Good Oil/Love and Other Perishable Items* by Laura Buzo
Publisher: Allen & Unwin/Knopf Books for Young Readers
Length: 283/256 pages
Subjects: Life, love, friendship
How I obtained the book: Library, hardcover
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?
I really don’t know how to review this book. It’s one of the only books that I honestly find perfect. I cannot name a single flaw or even an aspect that could have used a bit of touching up.
I picked this book up on a hunch. I had never heard of it before or read a single review for it. I don’t know how or why, but I knew that GOOD OIL would be amazing. From the moment I finished the first chapter, I knew that I was right.
It’s not often that I finish a book and the first thought that pops into my mind is that the book was utterly perfect. While reading, GOOD OIL invaded my every thought. I could not keep away from it. The book ensnared me with its beautiful characters and raw, brutal emotion.
For the first time in a long time, I not only like the main character but I also really “feel” her. I understand her. I can really put myself into Amelia’s shoes. Her flaws, her strengths – they were all believable.
Amelia is one the most multifaceted, realistic characters I’ve ever encountered.
Chris was Amelia’s equal when it came to realistic, multifaceted characters. He had a jealous, angry streak but he was a good person. He was a bad drunk and a good friend. He was a charmer. He was deeply depressed. He was strangely happy. But most importantly, he was real.
The writing was fabulous. Amelia sounded her age and Chris did too. Chris felt male, instead of a guy with secret ovaries that many authors like to portray. Amelia felt her age instead of a strangely mature 15 year old or a girl who acts like she’s 7 instead of her age.
The novel tells the story of Amelia who is utterly infatuated with her coworker Chris, who happens to be 6 years older than her. When I first picked this up, I was sure that GOOD OIL would be about Amelia and Chris’ forbidden romance, as the blurb suggests.
However, GOOD OIL did a THE STATISTICAL PROBABILITY OF LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT on me and it turned out to be about much more than what I expected.
Buzo has an uncanny ability at creating realistic, witty, and deep conversations and through such discussions, the book’s true themes of friendship, growing up, and love are unearthed. Amelia’s observations and thoughts make you think about your own life and question your own actions.
Buzo’s writing was absolutely amazing and her narrative voice was flawless. Her ability to make characters that are realistic and likable is uncanny. I will read any Buzo book after this and I recommend GOOD OIL to anyone.
*GOOD OIL was published under two different names by two different publishers. I read it under LOVE AND OTHER PERISHABLE ITEMS but I used GOOD OIL in my review because it a) was easier to write and b) I prefer the title as Good Oil is Aussie slang that means roughly “useful information” which I thought fit the book.
The summary and cover are from the GOOD OIl version.