Sadie Hawkins Sunday #75: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Sadie Hawkins Sunday #75: Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura BuzoLove and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
Published by Knopf BFYR on December 11, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 256
Format: Hardcover
Source: Won
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three-stars

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.

Recommended by: Lauren Morrill (Author of Meant to Be/Being Sloane Jacobs)

When Love and Other Perishable Items came out, there were a lot of reviews that said they really didn’t get the point of it, since it’s not got much of a plot. It was very character-driven, they said. Of course, this made me want the book, even if many others were seriously whelmed by its contents. It was one of those times where reviews that actually weren’t highly positive totally reeled me in and convinced me it might be a book for me. Plus, I’ve heard so much about Aussie YA and Melina Marchetta totally panned out, so why not Laura Buzo? And yet. Here I am, a bit surprised not to have loved this one.

Love and Other Perishable Items does a lot well. There are two POVs and they’re very distinct. Amelia and Chris do not sound remotely similar and I think she effectively set up their timelines. They’re talking about the same things, but their views of them are so different. I would always look forward to seeing things from Chris’ side, after seeing Amelia’s interpretations.

Amelia, fifteen and seriously infatuated for the very first time, suffers from a pretty standard teenage problem: insecurity. Her lack of self-worth is exacerbated by her parents’ inattention. They’re present, but lost in their own worlds. Amelia thinks of herself one way, but through Chris’ eyes it’s obvious that her view of herself is flawed. It’s a reminder that what we see isn’t necessarily what others see looking at us, a very important lesson in life.

What I think I liked best in Love and Other Perishable Items was watching Amelia learn through fiction. She’s reading book primarily for school but she really takes the time to think about what they say and to try to apply their lessons to her own life. I wish I could say that I thought that much about everything I read as a teen. This, too, is how Amelia bonds with Chris, her crush. He’s in college, 22, and he enjoys talking with the intellectually curious youngster who works with him at the grocery store. In these moments, I was able to take Amelia’s crush seriously and to see where the two might really get along. It’s also the only time I found Chris likable.

That said, the romance in the book did not work for me, such as it is. Chris annoyed me to no end. He’s constantly whinging about the manic pixie dream girl of his past, a girl he failed to understand and who treated him like shit but whom he continues to feel is the one for him. Meanwhile, he seeks out the “perfect girl” even though he already met his perfect girl and she dumped him hard. I’m a fan of drinking, sure, but Chris worries me. He drinks like he wants to die. Plus, he does other drugs and makes just terrible life choices all around.

The ending has me side-eyeing this book. I feel like it all ties into the discussion of Great Expectations that Chris and Amelia have. Let’s just say I’m skeptical like Amelia about things. On a side-note, the discussions of feminism in this book are really interesting. It’s all about the different ways people have defined it and misinterpretations. Amelia actually hates feminism because she doesn’t really get what it is. Nothing’s really settled with regards to that, but I think it’s a book to make people think if they’ve never really considered those issues.

Did I like Love and Other Perishable Items? Well, kind of. I’d say it’s a good book and I liked it more than I didn’t, but it also never really coalesced for me. Authentic though their voices are, neither Amelia nor Chris really leapt off the page and felt real to me the way the best characters do.

Favorite Quote:

The upshot is that I pretty much don’t have a chance with her. And, you know, thank God, because if I did, I’d have to give up my lifestyle of soul-wrenching loneliness and sexual frustration. I’m too good at it to quit now. I could brood for Australia.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif sisterhood of the traveling pants grocery store


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