Release Date: December 11, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
A wonderful, coming-of-age love story from a fresh new voice in YA ﬁction.
'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? (courtesy of Goodreads.)
I didn't know what to expect when I started this book. I'd read numerous raving reviews of it when it was released last December, but I'd forgotten what they said. I figured it would be a light, fluffy, funny romance. But it was not.
Love and Other Perishable Items is a subtle novel about friendship, love, family, and growing up. In one moment, the story can be hilariously witty and in the next poignant and bittersweet. Laura Buzo is Australian and the book is set in Sydney, which I hadn't realized going in. Her writing reminds me of her fellow Australian Melina Marchetta with a slightly lighter touch.
The book is told through both Amelia and Chris's eyes, which is wonderful because we see two very different viewpoints of each character. In Amelia's story, she is unsure of herself in every sense - where she stands amongst her friends, her family dynamics, how she comes off to other people. Chris is funny, outgoing, goofy, charming, mature and perfect in nearly every way other than his ongoing crush on Kathy, their co-worker.
When the viewpoint switches to Chris, he views himself as stuck at a point where he's no longer a kid and not yet an adult and he's not sure how to transition. Plus, he's devastated over the loss of his two-timing ex-girlfriend. Amelia is like a breath of fresh air. She doesn't put on airs, she's passionate about everything she's learning in school. It's blatantly obvious to Chris that she's on the verge of becoming an amazing person. He is as attracted to Amelia as she is to him, even if he doesn't admit that to himself for a long time.
I've read numerous books where a teenage girls falls in love with an older guy and they begin an illicit relationship which invariably ends badly. This is not that book. It is a love story that is not yet a love story. It is the opposite of insta-love. Their chemistry and attraction grows as they get to know one another on a level far deeper than most teenage love stories. They delve into the dark secrets of their families, their likes and dislikes, philosophy, their own mistakes. The book is painful to read, because they are perfect for each other but the gap is too large.
If you're sick of reading YA romances that leave you feeling like you need to brush your teeth, you'll love Love and Other Perishable Items. The book is painfully read. People are not perfect, circumstances are not perfect, time is not perfect. Yet despite the feeling of impossibility, you'll be left with a deep sense of satisfaction and happiness.
Rating: 4.5 / 5
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