Saturday, 23 February 2013

Book Review: Good Oil

The second I read the description for Love and Other Perishible Items (Good Oil in Australia) by Laura Buzo, I knew I had to read it: 
(From GoodReads) "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 am a sucker for romances that involve huge age differences--who knows why? 
Amelia's story sucked me right in. Her voice was real and honest and heartbreakingly relatable. I had flashbacks to being sixteen and working at the local video store the entire time I was reading. One quote, in particular, felt like it was pulled directly from my own (hypothetical, and more articulate) diary: 
"The yawning six-year chasm between my age and Chris’s is not the only fly in the proverbial ointment of this “loving Chris” business. I’m not even sure what “getting” Chris would involve; all I know is I want him. I want to be enfolded by him somehow, and to possess him. To have unfettered and exclusive access to him all the time. To feel how I feel around him all the time. To know that he loves being around me too. To feel more of his skin on my skin."
How freaking accurately does that describe your first (possibly inappropriate) crush?

The book is told from alternating points of view, meaning that we hear about events from both Chris and Amelia's perspective.. At first I found the transition from one to the other, not to mention Chris's angst, a little annoying. By the second half of the story, as Chris tried to figure out what to do with his life, I was able to relate to him, and his particular brand of mid-twenties confusion, more and more. 

I also really enjoyed reading about the social politics of the Woolworth's. Anyone who has ever worked a part time job could probably relate to the bizarre power structures that exist when you have a primarily youth-staffed workplace. There was also Amelia's first exposure to drinking, drugs and sex through her older coworkers. I don't know if it was the universality of the experience, or if it was just incredibly well written (I suspect both) but again I found myself feeling as though the author had picked my 16-year old brain. 

This novel made me sad, in many ways. The characters don't have an easy time of it, and that felt very realistic. Amelia never gets much of a break, whether it's her parents financial problems or her best friend starting to drift away. There are no fairy tale makeovers in this book, and despite my love of fairy-tale makeovers, I think that's why I connected with it so much. Amelia had to survive on the strength of her own character, which meant that by the end of the novel I was still left with a sense of hope for her. 

I enjoyed this book more than I have any in a long while, so if you get a chance to read it, I would highly recommend it. I think it would be especially good for: anyone who has every harboured an impossible crush, those experiencing mid-twenties angst, people who are not robots. 

You can also friend me on GoodReads, if you want!


  1. Great review! I've heard about this book and would like to read it. It sounds cute, but realistic, which I like.

    I find it weird that it has a completely different name & cover in Australia! I really like the US/CAN title & cover treatment much more.

    1. I know, right? I love completely out-there, supernatural or just ridiculous plot lines, but it takes so much more skill to have a book that is funny and cute and also realistic and relatable.

      And I like the US/CAN cover more too!

  2. I am really excited to read this books. That quote, just like you said, totally totally describes some of my first (inappropriate) crushes. I'm not sure what it is with teenage girls and older guys but it's for sure been a theme in my life. I'm pumped to read a book that actually speaks into that!

    1. I know exactly what you mean!! I still have no idea what it is with older guys!