Friday, January 4, 2013

Review: Love and Other Perishable Items

    Review: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buza

    Published by: Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children's Books. Originally published in Australia by Allen and Unwin, Sydney (2010). American Publication 2012

    ISBN: 978-0-373-87000-2

    Reading Level: Grade 9+

Love, when you're a teenager, is almost always complicated. Love, when you're 15 and the person you're in love with is 21 is a little more problematic. 'Love and Other Perishable Items' addresses the question - what do when your first love is someone you shouldn't love?
Amelia and Chris both work in their local supermarket. Chris is a university student who is finding the motivation to finish his last year difficult to find. Amelia is finding high school to be not quite what she wants. Amelia, at first sight, fell head over heels with the sophicated Chris, but knows enough to not act on it. Instead she plays it cool and strikes up a friendship where they compare the injustices of growing up as well as bantering about books and b movies. On the surface they're perfect for each other - witty, funny and with similar interests. As time progresses, Amelia does not seem like the only person who longs for a romantic relationship. Yet those six years stand between them - inconsequential when they're in their sixties, miles apart when they're spanning their teens and twenties. Told in alternating sections of Amelia and Chris, the reader wonders if these two can find love - or is their relationship about to meet it's best before date?
This book details the firsts that Amelia is experiencing - her first love, her first real party, her first job, her first hangover. She's a very observant and mature fifteen, forming opinions on literature and feminism and practicing the ability to spout these opinions when she can. At the supermarket, she is not one of the girls who's 15-going-on-35 in terms of social maturity and sexuality. It is her opinions, not her actions, which makes her stand out to Chris. Chris is in search of something - badly burned by Michaela and finding solace at the Uni bar and in his crush on his coworker Kathy he goes from day to day unsure of where his life is leading. He is intrigued by Amelia and her mix of maturity and innocence and enjoys discussions with her, especially those where he can mentor her on books and popular culture. They are well suited and their friendship is one that develops organically, romantic feelings aside. The conclusion of their story is one which does not demean either character and which allows for the idea that the future is always wide open.

I found this book to be nicely written. It captured the angst of unrequited and inappropriate love without making it seem taudry and unrealistic. The issues presented are ones that the characters are quite aware of and it never becomes a 'he and I against the world' kind of Romeo and Juliet tale. Both Amelia and Chris grow and develop as characters, finding their places with each other but also in their own worlds. The alternating of voices, especially since they tell of the same times and events when appropriate, is done quite well, as is the conclusion where these voices are shared. At times, Amelia seems a little too perfect for Chris, Chris seems a little too aimless and the secondary characters seem a little too much like caricatures, however, overall they exist together in the world they inhabit, helping each other find what they want and begin to figure out how to get it.

I give this book a 4/5. Nicely written, draws on the simplistic at times, well concluded.

Goodreads page.


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