Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
Published: December 11, 2012 by Knopf Books
(originally published in Australia, August 2010)
Received: e-galley for review from the publisher
'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 give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I'm open to all kinds of bribery.'
From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost...head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies, but he's 21, and the 6-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes? [goodreads]
I adore contemps that give a realistic reflection of how tough being a teenager can be. We've all been there and know how heartbreaking reality can be at that age. Laura Buzo does not hold back in telling Amelia's story in Love and Other Perishable Items. The fact that she's an Aussie writer just adds to the brilliance of this novel and reminded me why I love their contemporary pieces so much.
Amelia has taken it upon herself to get a job at the local grocery store. It gives her an excuse to get out of her parent's house for a few hours and make some extra cash at the same time. What she doesn't expect to find in this grocery store is Chris; the boy who demands her attention and captures her heart, but not even having a clue that he's done just that. It's a story which we can all relate to. Who hasn't had a crush on an older boy or girl? We get so caught up in the idea of wanting something we can't have, that we tend to overlook the obvious signs as to why we shouldn't have them. Though there was a large age difference between Amelia and Chris (6 years), their friendship still felt believable. Amelia is a seasoned soul, well above her maturity level. It's one of the reasons why Chris felt so drawn to her.
As the story unfolds, so does Amelia's crush for Chris. Even with the age gap, I still felt myself rooting for the two of them. I fell in love with the idea of these two characters being together. Before I knew it, I was obsessed with the story, just as Amelia had become obsessed with Chris. So when things finally came to a sudden halt, my heart felt like it was crushing into tiny pieces. Laura Buzo knows how to build up emotion, make you feel as though you're right there in the moment with the character. From the highest highs, to the lowest lows, this story became very real to me.
Usually I am satisfied with stand alone endings. I feel as though the story is complete. However this one left me wanting SO MUCH MORE. I literally found myself thinking about the characters long after I'd finished reading. This is a true testament to Laura Buzo's writing. She's managed to pull me in and captivate my mind with fictional characters that I don't want to forget about. I love that.