Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo
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? (Goodreads)
Amelia has an enormous, mind-boggling crush on Chris, an older guy who works at the checkstand next to hers. They have this fun, totally charming banter and Chris really seems to enjoy her friendship, but he doesn’t see Amelia the way she sees him. In fact, he’s totally clueless about her crush. He obviously sees her as more of a kid (which, hello, she’s fifteen. She is).
Chris spends his time wallowing in heartbreak over his lost love (who really did a number on him) and in finding creative ways to de-pants the other girls at work. It’s not his fault it hurts Amelia. It is what it is. Herein lies the problem: As they grow closer there is a shift. It’s as though Chris finally, finally sees her. He recognizes all of the amazing qualities there are in Amelia (because she really is pretty fabs), but there’s always that awkward age roadblock.
At the same time, Amelia has battles at home. There are domestic issues regarding her dad and his unwillingness to do anything to help her mom around the house, there’s his overall standoffish ways, and there’s Amelia’s mom, who seems to live in utter misery. These issues raise questions for Amelia, questions about love and marriage and what she wants out of life. In a strange way it draws her closer to Chris as she begins to discover her feelings on feminism and roles in marriage , prodded further by him.
I liked this book. It wasn’t incredibly romantic liked I’d initially hoped, in fact, it was a bit melancholy at times, but it felt realistic. As an adult watching the story unfold, I could understand all of the reasons why Amelia should not be with Chris. Why he’s wrong for her. Why he’s troubled in his own way and not this perfect guy she’s made him out to be. At the same time, I get where she’s coming from. Amelia is looking for that ideal “love conquers all” sort of romance that can see past the age and experience differences, and she sees some part of that in Chris. And Chris gets Amelia. Even when he doesn’t realize her crush, he gets her humor, he gets her ideas and he thinks she’s great. Amelia has lofty ideas about herself and feminism and what she’ll be like when she finally marries one day, and yet she is immature and can’t quite see that with Chris she’d be giving up so much of her freedom and youth–not that he’d demand it, but circumstances would–just to be his girlfriend and to keep him happy. It’s such an interesting parallel to what she thinks of her own parents.
One of the other things I really enjoyed here was that Chris keeps journals. Through those we get the opportunity to see what a funny, tragic, broken young man he is. He is not good for Amelia, or anyone, at this point in his life, but I think he owns it. He wears it well.
Crush Intensity: 3.5/5 This is a solid read, not super-romantic (or romantic at all), but interesting in a different way.
Thank you to Random House for sending me a copy to review with my blogging friends through The Selective Collective.