December 4, 2012

Title: Love and Other Perishable Items (originally published under the title Good Oil)

Author: Laura Buzo

Published: December 11, 2012

Publisher:  Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages: 256

Summary from Goodreads: Love is awkward, Amelia should know.

From the moment she sets eyes on Chris, she is a goner. Lost. Sunk. Head over heels infatuated with him. It’s problematic, since Chris, 21, is a sophisticated university student, while Amelia, is 15.

Amelia isn’t stupid. She knows it’s not gonna happen. So she plays it cool around Chris—at least, as cool as she can. Working checkout together at the local supermarket, they strike up a friendship: swapping life stories, bantering about everything from classic books to B movies, and cataloging the many injustices of growing up. As time goes on, Amelia’s crush doesn’t seem so one-sided anymore. But if Chris likes her back, what then? Can two people in such different places in life really be together?

Through a year of befuddling firsts—first love, first job, first party, and first hangover—debut author Laura Buzo shows how the things that break your heart can still crack you up.

Pre-order here: Amazon ♥ Barnes & Noble

  • Christina really enjoyed this title and places it on her third shelf.

**Note** An e-Arc of this this title was provided by the publishers via Net Galley. However, that did not influence this review in any way.

Actual rating of 3.5 stars!

The Lowdown: Told in alternating POV’s, this is the coming-of-age story for two different people at two very different times in their lives. Amelia Hayes is a fifteen-year-old high school student, middle daughter to a mother with a heavy workload and an absentee director father. Hating to burden her family for money requests, she starts working a few shifts a week at at grocery store where upon she meets Chris. Chris is a twenty-one-year old (brokenhearted) uni student on the cusp of graduating, where he finds himself straddling that ever-dubious line of youth and responsibility, that place of uncertainty where one thinks,  Where do I go from here when I have to learn to be an adult- career, independent homestead, and not binge-drinking to forget my troubles?  Despite their age difference, they are able to connect to one another on a level through their appreciation of the written word, the injustices of the world, and each other’s life troubles.

Of course, like any young girl who garners the attention of a strapping young uni student of the male persuasion, Amelia soon finds herself absolutely smitten with Chris.  However, she isn’t delusional enough to think that he could ever return her affections, especially with him constantly making lustful comments about other girls around her. But then, when he revels in her musings, buys her flowers, and says things like, ‘If you were two years older, I’d be going out with you.’ how is a love-struck teenager supposed to do anything other than contemplate what they could be like together beyond friendship?

My Thoughts: Chris and Amelia’s first meeting goes like the following:

”Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will share with you what I know. Right? And just so you know, I’m open to all kinds of bribery.”

I immediately smiled and settled in, just knowing that this was the book that I could fall in love with quickly.

I adored Amelia from the get-go. Though mature as far as her take on life and all its inequalities, when it came to social graces, she was a bit of a fumbling disaster. With her naivety, love of books, and social awkwardness, she reminded me what it was like to be a teenage girl with starry eyes focused on a guy much too old for you and how you’ll do or say just about anything to walk a bit in their world when it’s so far removed from your own.

Chris buys a six-pack of beer on the way to Rino’s.

     “Special treat,” he says, parting with a twenty-dollar bill. “You like beer, don’t you?”

     I hate beer. Hate it. “Yeah!”

     Oh, well. Love is pain. Or is it beauty is pain? I wouldn’t know about the latter, but the former makes my sternum ache.

I loved her perspective on books and characters, but most importantly, I enjoyed her view on feminism and how it made me think about my own.

Special Notes: There is a lot of references to alcohol and drug use as well as sexual content. If that isn’t your thing, this book might not be the one for you.

Verdict: I was a bit disappointed in the ending. Not necessarily because these two kids go their separate ways, but rather because it was left so wide open. With all the references to Dickens writing an alternate ending to Great Expectations where Pip and Estella meet later in life, I guess I thought maybe the same would happen here with a short epilogue of sorts. That perhaps Chris and Amelia would meet some years down the road and either A) remember the months of camaraderie they shared together and be satisfied with that or B) maybe find love now. Yet, neither happened, and so if you like your stories tied up in neat little bows, you’d probably be a little miffed about where this one ends.

I think Australian lit is an acquired taste and while Melina Marchetta sits comfortably on her Aussie throne, I believe if you enjoy her work that you’ll certainly find Love and Other Perishable Items to be a good read.

♥ A very special thanks to Knopf Books for Young Readers and Net Galley for allowing us to preview this title. 

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