Antonia Lucia Labella has two secrets: at age fifteen she's still waiting for her first kiss, and she wants to be a saint. An official one. Seem strange? Well, to Antonia, saints are royalty, and she wants her chance at being a princess. All her life she's kept company with these kings and queens of small favors, knowing exactly whom to pray to on every occasion. Unfortunately, the two events Antonia's prayed for seem unlikely to happen. It's not for lack of trying. For how long has she been hoping to gain the attention of the love of her life -- the tall, dark, and so good looking Andy Rotellini? Too long to mention. And every month for the last eight years, Antonia has sent a petition to the Vatican proposing a new patron saint and bravely offering herself for the post. So what if she's not dead?
But as Antonia learns, in matters of the heart and sainthood, things are about as straightforward as wound-up linguini, and sometimes you need to recognize the signs.
I think I enjoyed this book more than the first Donna Freitas book I read -- The Survival Kit -- but I still had some reservations.
This book is firmly built in Catholicism, saints, and Catholic and Italian culture. I am not Catholic or Italian, and at times it was hard for me to understand (for instance, when they elect the new pope. I don't know anything about how popes are chosen and that scene was confusing).
Antonia is a feisty, vibrant girl who was named after St. Anthony, and loves the saints. Every where she goes she prays to the saints, always knowing exactly which one to pray to. She keeps track of the saints in thick notebooks filled with mass cards and notes on the saints' powers -- ie, what to pray to them for -- and information on each saint. And every month, Antonia writes to the vatican suggesting a new saint. There's a saint for cooking? Why shouldn't there be a saint of fig trees or pasta? And every month, she suggests herself to be the new saint. Since she was eight, her biggest dream has been to be a saint. Her romantic life is just as tangled, as she decides between her crush Andy and her friend Michael.
This time, I think I enjoyed the plot more. Obviously the plot is a bit farfetched, but if someone wanted, they really could write to the Vatican and beg to become a saint. Freitas seemed to understand that her plot was farfetched as well. However, the plot was again predictable. I knew who Antonia would choose right away, as it was fairly obvious. And the ending of what happens to Antonia and her dreams of being a saint is also easy to figure out. But, I did like reading Antonia's letters to the Vatican. They were fresh and full of voice, and pretty darn hilarious. The plot was fun to read about, and I think that it would make a good "comfort read", but really the story was simply just predictable.
The reason I really enjoyed this book more than The Survival Kit was Antonia's voice. She was fresh and funny and sounded like a real (saint-crazed) teenager. She was funny, too, and her use of capitals when she became excited was funny rather than being gimmicky. I can understand how some reviewers thought that she was immature, and think that the letters were stupid, but I thought it was cute and didn't mind. The characters seemed a bit more developed here. We learned about Antonia, Michael, Andy, and Antonia's mother in greater depth. However, again some characters were not developed, like Antonia's friends (they again seemed to be pawns in the story) and Antonia's cousins (they seemed a bit too stereotypical).
So, yes, I did enjoy this book more. It would make a fun "comfort read" and it's pretty darn funny, not to mention having mouthwatering food in it. (Don't read this book before breakfast/lunch/dinner!) And above all, I found it to be more interesting than the first Donna Freitas that I read.
Three point five stars.