In the vein of Eat, Pray, Love, but for teens, this inspirational novel is set against the backdrop of Tennessee horse country as well as the historic cities of Italy and the Italian countryside. The story unfolds as three teenage girls, recently graduated from high school, plan the next phase of their lives while dealing with immediate life issues. McDaniel subtly explores the many types of love the girls experience--including love for one's family, one's friends, and intimate love--and the sacrifices they choose to make (or not) for each of them.
McDaniel's (Red Heart Tattoo) latest drama centers on the tumultuous lives of three best friends during the summer after their high school graduation. Ciana is contending with an alcoholic mother and trying to take care of her family farm. Arie has been fighting cancer (and a smothering family) for years. And Eden is weighed down by her possessive drug-dealer boyfriend, her impulses to harm herself, and a mother with bipolar disorder. When Ciana's grandmother leaves her a large college fund, Ciana invites her friends to leave their small Tennessee town to vacation at a villa in Tuscany. There, they discover that some relationships and realities will follow them anywhere, including a romantic conflict between two of the girls. In Tuscany and Rome, the girls encounter worldly men, explore historical sights, and reassess their priorities. The emotional chemistry between the friends can be slight at times, but the story's themes of escape, freedom, horse riding, and finding love should have a strong pull for romance fans. Ages 12 up.