Review: Good Oil (aka Love and Other Perishable Items) – Laura Buzo

Released in Australia as Good Oil: August 2010
Released internationally as Love And Other Perishable Items: December 11th 2012
Published By: Allen & Unwin
Pages: 283
Goodreads: Add it to your reading list
Rating: 3 out of 5

Synopsis:
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?

Review:  Another Aussie YA book – I am on a roll! I am going to sound SO un-Australian saying this – but I’m going there anyways. Good Oil. Apparently this is Aussie slang. I had to look this up on the internet though, because honestly, no one I know would ever be caught dead saying this:

Good oil : useful information, a good idea, the truth

Hah. Well I suppose that being said the title doesn’t seem so silly to me anymore. lol This title was published internationally as Love And Other Perishable Items – but the book is one in the same (except for minor changes).

I really enjoyed this Aussie contemporary book, however there were a few slight things about this book that I didn’t love, and so this book is getting a rating of 3/5 from me (3 = I liked this).

Firstly I want to discuss what I liked about this book. I really enjoyed the setting of this book. The Australian version is set at Woolworths, the American version set at Coles – either way it’s a supermarket. I have a Woolworths in my street, and so for me my mind went there. I enjoyed the work banter, the politics, the multiple hook ups amongst different staff – I found it was quite realistic in nature.

I also really liked Chris. I felt he was quite a three dimensional character. He was flawed and he was believable. He really was the typical uni student you would expect to see. I feel the author really did her research here.

Things I didn’t particularly think worked in this book… Amelia. I really wanted to like her. But I didn’t. I felt like her character didn’t work for me. She’s meant to be 15, and she’s talking about Sylvia Plath, Great Expectations, The Great Gatsby and feminism with the vocabulary of a university graduate. I was not really buying that. And not only that, but she was a little bit sheltered and out of touch with reality. More than anything this grated on me.

I also didn’t particularly like the way the ending left off. This review is spoiler free, so I won’t go into details except to say that I felt a little bit dissatisfied by the ending.

The book in general is about nothing. And I am not saying this in a disrespectful way – but essentially, the book is just about the day to day life of working in a supermarket. There is no major plot – the main theme is that Amelia is crushing on Chris, and then we also see Chris’s perspective of things also.

Thankfully though, it’s saving grace was the fact that each of their perspectives really did keep your interest. I really enjoyed Chris’s diary entries, and I did like the banter between Amelia and Chris also.

All in all, enjoyable and an easy quick read. Didn’t blow my mind or anything, but still pretty good.

Quotables:

“I can’t run my own race. I’m constantly checking what’s happening in the other lanes.”

“She even takes the goings-on of fictitious characters personally.”

“He would learn to accept his defeat gracefully – unlike Gatsby
with the shotgun – and decide to get on with his life.”

“Harvey out.
PS I have puny shoulders.
PPS And I’m okay with that.
PPPS I’m not really.”

What do you think?

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