Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Review: Love and Other Perishable Items

Love and Other Perishable Items (Formerly “Good Oil”), by Laura Buzo. The GoodReads summary:
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, 15, 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.
I would say I liked about half this book. The story’s told from two perspectives—Amelia’s and Chris’s—and while I liked Amelia’s half, Chris and his story never won me over. Amelia was a fairly typical YA main character: a little shy, a little witty, a little worn down by her crappy home life but resilient all the same. She wasn’t necessarily a memorable character, but she was likeable enough. Chris, on the other hand, I couldn’t stand. I swear all he does is whine about his ex-girlfriend and get drunk. And while he hates his life, he never does anything to change it. So I basically had no patience for him and his immaturity.

I think where this book excels, though, is in how it shows that you can’t really ever completely know another person—there are always things that they’re not telling you, and your interpretation of their actions isn’t necessarily their real motivation. Amelia thinks she knows so much about Chris, but all she sees is his outgoing, friendly side—that’s what she falls in love with. She doesn’t ever seem to catch on to the dark and depressed part of him. The same goes for Chris. He sees Amelia as a precocious, entertaining teenager and doesn’t have a clue about how bad things are for her at home. The disparity between how they saw each other and how they saw themselves gave me something to think about, which was refreshing since I was admittedly expecting something a bit fluffier.

I also liked how well this book captures hopeless crushes. Amelia knows that realistically she and Chris won’t ever be together—she’s 15 and he’s 21, not to mention he’s in love with someone else. But she can’t help but wish and hope and dream that somehow it’ll all work out. Her heart wants what her heart wants, and no amount of rational thinking is going to change that. And who hasn’t been there and done that? I just thought Buzo’s portrayal of that emotion was really well done and realistic.

Overall, there were a lot of things that this book does really well, but my dislike for Chris stopped me from really enjoying the book. I could never quite tell whether the author intended for me to like him or not, but either way, he threw a bit of a wrench in my appreciation for the book.

Rating: 3 / 5

1 comment:

  1. I actually liked Chris, something about the writing drew me in even as I cringed when he talked about women and his unsuccessful attempts with them.


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