Friday, July 26, 2013

Love and Other Perishable Items

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

I read to page 134 out of 243 pages and I have to put this book down. I'm putting it down with a bit of a heavy sigh though as I did enjoy the character of Amelia (one narrator) but not so much the character of Chris (the other narrator).

An amazon summary, "Love is awkward, as fans of Sarah Dessen and E. Lockhart well know. Funny and heartbreaking in equal measure, this grocery store romance was a Morris Award Finalist for Best YA debut.

"Smart, honest and full of achingly real characters. And it made me laugh. What else would you want in a book?" —Melina Marchetta, Printz Award-winning author

From the moment Amelia 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.
"A sweet and scathingly funny love story." —Kirkus, Starred Review" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

I really wanted to like this book because love stories that are quirky and a bit unpredictable and everything like that are right up my ally. I love Sarah Dessen novels because love manages to sneak it's way into awkward and weird situations. Have a I mentioned I'm a sucker for romantics? Sheesh.

Let me set the scene for you of this story.

The story takes place in Australia (which is cool!) and noteworthy because some of the jargon I was a little unfamiliar with but could understand from the context it was used. It also threw me off a little bit when boys were referred to lads and girls were referred to as lasses regardless of their age. I digress.

Amelia has started to work at Cole's (a supermarket grocery store of sorts, although it doesn't seem to be like Walmart) and has taken a fancy to her new employee trainer, Chris. It's a slight build up to love, but it definitely escalates there quickly enough. Amelia is smart, kind of prim and proper girl because she seems to lack the confidence in herself to try anything new that's outside her comfort zone. However, she's kind of fun and has a best friend that she ignores pretty consistently; I MEAN CHECKS IN WITH PERIODICALLY TO KEEP YOU UP A LITTLE BIT ON THE DRAMA which might come back to bite her in the butt towards the end of the book.

But I didn't get that far.

Then there's Chris who's smitten by a girl from his past and on a quest to find the perfect woman. He's an alcoholic, he goes to university (often abbreviated to uni) and he's 21. He's a literature and sociology major and has no idea what he's going to do with his life after he gets out of uni.

I pretty much hate Chris.

When the book is written from his point of view he wallows in his own angst so intensely that I kind of recoil from the amount of anger and contempt he holds for his world. He constantly pokes fun at himself and seems to throw a tantrum every time he writes an entry (his narration reads like a diary). There are a few redeeming qualities about Chris, but they just seem to mask his angst only a little bit. Maybe this will play back in the book later on, maybe he'll make an astounding recovery from his angst.

I didn't get that far.

I really didn't want to finish reading this book because Amelia is 15 and in her kind of short time with Chris she relents to go to a party where there's alcohol, she proceeds to get drunk and make out with a guy that was leading her towards sex. However, a guy manages to stop them and Amelia the next morning is like WHOA CRAP. I believe the legal drinking age may be 18 in Australia, but I have no idea for certain. I do know that there was another character that was 16 in the book that was going to the bars with Chris and the other older people from the store. So maybe there's something weird going on there or they had a fake ID. I don't know.

I might be a stick in the mud and this might have turned into some sort of beautiful coming of age story for both Amelia and Chris, but I don't really want to read a love story between a minor and an adult. I don't really want to read about Amelia becoming 'corrupted'. I don't really want to read anything else that's over the top angry from Chris.

I really did enjoy reading Amelia's side of the story, and I didn't even mind too much that Chris' narration was told in the diary format (which normally I absolutely loathe), it was more that Chris' personality got in the way for me.

Amelia states a few times that she knows what kind of person Chris is, yet she loves him anyways. He seems to come across as an angry, floundering, social butterfly that doesn't have any direction to go in. I think Amelia is just charmed that he treats her as if her opinions are worth something. I did love this quote from Chris, "She even takes the goings-on of fictitious characters personally. These are the things she thinks about when she is packing groceries," (Buzo, page 48, Love and Other Perishable Items). He's referring to Amelia and her statements about The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

I was kind of hoping it'd turn into something like The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things by Carolyn Macker (which you can find HERE). It didn't seem to be going in that direction any time soon though.

Also, I get a little irked when authors incorporate books or writing into their stories. I understand that you should write what you know as you'll be able to convey it the best, but I get a little overwhelmed by the sensation of reading when I'm reading about someone else who is reading something that I have already read in a book that I am reading. PHEW. This was a great way for Amelia and Chris to share their minds as Amelia has a quirky literature teacher that seems to be giving out 'older' books where Chris already has a passion for literature (it's one of his majors). I understand all of that. But all of the reading, like WHOA.

I'm glad that the book is there to show how 'odd' people get through the rougher years of their lives, but this book just wasn't for me.

Happy reading.

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