Published by Knopf Books For Young Readers on December 2012
Genres: Contemporary YA
Amelia is 15 years old and has gotten her first job at Woolworth’s — a supermarket. She immediately encounters Chris, who is 21, and trains her on checkout and becomes her friend at work. It doesn’t take long for her to fall for him and his witty demeanor and his ability to make everyone smile. She feels like there is something there because they can talk about everything and anything — from the serious to the absurd– and there is always a constant banter between the two of them but the big hurdle is the 6 year age difference which, at times, feels like it’s a lot more than that. Amelia tries to show him that, despite the age difference, she’s right for him after all.
Love and Other Perishable Items was not at all what I pegged it to be! The cover made me just think it was going to be this ooey-gooey, will-probably-cause-cavities kind of sweet romance. Not the case! NOT AT ALL. And you know what? I loved it!! It was heartbreakingly real and honestly quite different — didn’t feel like something I’d ever read before.
It was really just one of those coming of age stories that perfectly captures that awkwardness and not always perfectly reciprocated feelings that comes with crushes and first loves. There’s that uncertainty in what the other person is thinking and the overthinking and the longings and Laura Buzo made me remember all that in Amelia’s story — especially as a girl who had a knack for picking older boys to set my sights on. Seriously, I had my own Chris situation with an older guy who was a good friend. We could talk about everything, we found each other super interesting and everything just clicked. But that pesky age difference.
Amelia’s crush on Chris really tugs at your heart. You see why she finds him so wonderful and you understand her longing. You get it. You do. But you also see the improbability in it and the fact that he might not love her in the way she would want in this time. I’m really happy that Chris wasn’t just seen through the lens of Amelia though — especially as the targets of our affection sometimes make us skew how perfect we see people. Having the Chris chapters helped to balance out my view of him and really made me see him as a PERSON and see the other side of the encounters and his motives in everything. It honestly made me crush on him a bit even knowing all his flaws.
But I loved that this book was only half about the romance and the other half was really Amelia coming of age (which essentially the “love story” was just really woven into that). She’s smart, witty and very observant and I loved being in her brain sometimes because she made me think as she tries to grapple with things like feminism and what it means (a little reminiscent of Frankie), her mother’s unhappiness, her family, etc. I loved the conversations she and Chris would have about quirky things and about the messiness of life.
That ending was perfectly satisfying and made tears well up in my eyes big time but, at the same time, I selfishly wanted MORE. I need a crystal ball to see the future of this story for sure. Not just for the romance but because I want to see the kind of extraordinary young woman I know Amelia would grow up to be. I’d read a novel about her as a twenty or thirty something for sure!
Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo was a quietly beautiful coming of age story about the stickiness of crushes and first love but also just about all the facets of growing up –finding your place, seeing the imperfectness in the world and your family, etc. It’s a slim and unassuming book whose cover might lead you to believe this is some ooey-gooey, sweet as candy love story but it was definitely more than that. I really, really loved it and highly recommend. It was surprisingly emotional and will have you reminiscing back to your first crush/love — especially if you ever felt something for someone a bit older than you like I did!
Let’s Talk: Have you read Love & Other Perishable Items? Heard of it? Did you love it like I did or have different feelings? What did you think about the ending? Was it satisfying to you or no? And because I’m curious, did any of you, like me, have your own Chris situation??