A first novel of great charm that attempts to penetrate the unique genius of the Italian family, both in Italy and in its American version. Here, a first-generation American teenager summers with her relatives in Calabria, and finds within the sanctuary of family not only an acceptance of her passionate 17- year-old self, but a view into the harsh past of her father, whom she adores and from whom she yearns to be free. ``The Italian part of me has been at war with the American me as long as I can remember.'' Thus speaks Guilia di Cuore, only child of tender, loving widower Nicola--a psychiatrist who arrived in Ohio at age 29 and who's since built walls of restrictions to block off for his adored child the siren songs coming from her peers. Dateless, rebellious Guilia agrees to visit the di Cuore family in Italy, who are set for another sunny summer in a cheerfully crumbling beach cottage--where the overstuffed refrigerator wheezes like a baby, where a beachful of minimally clad neighbors and friends of all ages sun while aunts prepare huge midday dinners. Guilia is happy--and soon headlong in love with Luca, friend of a cousin. Love amid sun and sea and rides on the motorino, clinging to Luca's back, are paradise. Then for the first time in 20 years, Nicola also returns, and behind him Guilia can sense her powerful peasant grandfather. After he leaves, Guilia heads for Rome--with Luca and with a fading fantasy of becoming an Italian housewife and mother. But for her there'll be a final road away from the obligations to both cultures and toward the self. Monardo writes with an easy confidentiality, and her affectionate appraisal of a world of kin, shrewd but without bitterness, might remind one of an early Mary Gordon scan of her Irish/American enclave. An alluring tribute to love--of first love, of family, of Italy.