Release Date: December 11, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Check it out on 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, 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.
To put it simply, this was a great book about a real situation infused with effortless charm.
The book focuses on a fifteen-year old cashier Amelia and her bonding with her coworker Chris. He’s funny, cool, but there’s only one little snare: he’s twenty-one. In a blend of friendship and romance and confusion, they argue about books and philosophy and the state of the world. Amelia experiences her many “first”s: kiss, hangover, party, all of it. But one thing remains constant: her daily talks with Chris and her feelings for him.
Amelia was quirky and cute with an otherworldly maturity that lent her years. She was down-to-earth, but naive to some of the things that happened around her. That definitely led to some laughs throughout the book; I loved her refreshing perspective and sweetness.
I went back and forth on Chris – he was magnetic but also rather depressing. He was claimed to have “a passion for unhappiness” and it definitely showed. He was sweet when he wanted to be but the intelligence that made him so alluring led to a deep-rooted bitterness and self-absorption. Don’t get me wrong, I still really liked him and thought he was a good guy but it made me not like his narration at a few times.
I loved the age difference. Other little things just really made the book stand out. For instance, I had to google Christmas in Australia. At one point, Amelia complains about having to wear Santa hats and it’s boiling hot! It led to an insistent curiosity within me: how do Australians celebrate Christmas? Do they still sing White Christmas with equal cheer?
The best sorts of books are the ones that can make ordinary things beautiful. This book took an ordinary setting and situation, making it into a lovely coming-of-age.
I love romantic stories; even more than the cakey stories of boy-meets-girl-fall-in-love-perfection stories, I like the ones that have unhappiness and awkwardness and beauty mixed in. Eleanor and Park.
The view of feminism was fascinating: I’m not a huge fan of when books drag out all these different views on feminism and rake them through the dust. Sarah LaPolla put it very eloquently on her blog, stating that “feminism is the belief that women are equal to men, and that women have the freedom to make their own choices. That’s all it is.” She spoke about how most people tend to see the extremes of feminism, and I completely agree, as well as with this book.
One of the largest part of Amelia’s dynamic with her family was that her mother was left to do all the domestic work and was constantly beaten-down and exhausted with her responsibilities. Yes, she had the “freedom” to work at her own job and the “right” to be equal to her husband by managing a career but she was still left with all of her previous responsibilities: doing the dishes, taking care of the children, cleaning up after her husband. It just happened to take up more of her time with a job.
Amelia worries about this; it’s a large part of her development of a character. I loved how this book focused on family but didn’t obscure everything else because of that element. It was a large portion of the book, influencing Chris’ and Amelia’s decisions but it was by no means the focal point. It led to creative discussions and conflict, and I loved it. It was a real fraction of their lives.
I love books that make me think. I like books that take thoughts and flip them upside down. I love books that warrant an “oh, I’ve never thought of that” or a fascinating discussion with somebody in my life. I like books that challenge my thinking and intelligence and overall leave me curious and changed as a person. The discussions between Amelia and Chris about sex, drinking, love, feminism – they weren’t raw and they weren’t the brutally honest label toted by so many others. They were soft discussions and interesting points batted back and forth and mulled over by the characters throughout the book. It was like Pudge in Looking for Alaska and his constant return to the idea of the labyrinth tossed around by him and Alaska.
A bit plain at times, the narrative was still compelling and sweet. It was thoughtful, eloquent, and simple in all its complexity. There were messy relationships described in a very clear-cut writing style that balanced it all out in the end.
I really enjoyed the book. It was pretty plainly laid out which had its drawbacks and advantages. It was really easy to read, pretty quick as well. Still, it had a story that I cared about. It wasn’t fluff, but it still had the cuteness that made it easy to relax into and really enjoy. It was realistic and bittersweet in all the ways that matter.
If you’re looking for a sweet twist on a coming-of-age with plenty of interesting concepts to think about thrown in, Love and Other Perishable Items is an absolute definite.