Saturday, March 30, 2013

Review: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Title: Love and Other Perishable Items
Author: Laura Buzo
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release date: December 11th 2012
Pages: 256
Genre: Young Adult contemporary romance
Source: Bought
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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
My rating: 4 out of 5 stars

I love Australian books. I honestly can't think of a single book by an Australian author that I haven't liked. There's just something special about them. And that's how it was with Love and Other Perishable Items, too - there's no one great thing about it, but it's just such a cute, refreshing, fun read, and I loved it.

What I loved most about Love and Other Perishable Items is how well it conveys that feeling of having a crush. Amelia's crush on Chris is sweet and innocent - yes, it's naive, immature, and slightly stupid, but I thought her innocent way of looking at it was refreshing and just adorable. I think we can all remember feeling like Amelia at one point in our lives, and I love how Love and Other Perishable Items took me back to that.

Amelia is a great character. She's feisty, opinionated, awkward, and awesome. There's just this energy about her that I couldn't help but admire, even if she is, quite obviously, 15. I tend to go for older YA because 14- and 15-year-olds are not exactly the age group I identify with anymore, but I totally didn't mind in Love and Other Perishable Items. Laura Buzo somehow managed to make her main character authentically 15, while still making her relatable and, well, not annoying like most MCs in younger YA. There's an honest, innocent way about her that I just loved.

Going into the novel, I'd assumed it would be completely from Amelia's point of view, but a good third of the novel is actually written from Chris's. After reading about one month of Amelia's life, we get Chris's journal entries for that month. It might sound boring to read about the same events twice, but it totally works, because Laura Buzo gave her narrators two very distinct voices. Chris's voice is authentically male college student, and a total contrast to sweet, innocent Amelia's. His journal entries are slightly weird and often inappropriate, but always honest and entertaining, and I really liked that we got his point of view as well.

I loved all the interactions between Chris and Amelia. They're clever and funny - they had me laughing out loud (and attracting stares from everyone around me) throughout. I wasn't sure whether Laura Buzo would be able to pull off developing such an unlikely relationship, but she totally did - their relationship develops in a very natural way, and it's just plain adorable. To be honest, I was expecting the book to be more, I don't know, scandalous, I guess, but nothing bad really happens - it stays relatively innocent, and I liked it that way.

I was going to talk about the plot, but then I noticed that, well, there kind of isn't one - nothing really happens in Love and Other Perishable Items. If you're the kind of reader who needs lots of action and a strong plot, this book isn't for you because it's a book about... nothing. But I never even noticed that there are very few big events because it reads so nicely that I couldn't stop reading.

Another aspect I loved was the setting of the Land of Dreams. Reading about the supermarket setting and the dynamics between all the employees was so much fun. I especially liked how having most of the novel set at the place Amelia works, instead of at her high school, gave the book some maturity and introduced characters of a variety of ages.

I don't even know what to say, other than, I loved this book. It's not deep and moving, and it's not fast-paced and action-packed, but there's just something about it. With authentic characters and clever humor, Love and Other Perishable Items is a refreshing, sweet, honest portrayal of first love in unusual circumstances. I flew right through it and was entertained throughout. I can't wait to read more from Laura Buzo!


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