Book Report: Our highly scientific analysis of a book, from the characters to the writing style to the swoon. See More...

Relationship Best Enjoyed Before Expiration Date

In Love And Other Perishable Items, our heroine Amelia isn't interested in high school boys. Which is totally understandable.

Relationship Best Enjoyed Before Expiration Date

BOOK REPORT for Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Cover Story: Adorbs
BFF Charm: Yay!
Swoonworthy Scale: 6
Talky Talk: She Said, He Said
Bonus Factors: Taboo Topic, After School Job, Feminism
Relationship Status: The Odd Couple

Cover Story: Adorbs

Sure, it's a little bit twee, but I totally heart this cover! Uh, no pun intended. (Ok, maybe a little.) It's sweet and simple, and it definitely hints at the charming contents inside, although the story is a bit darker than this image indicates. The artwork isn't rocket science, but that's ok, because making good covers ISN'T ROCKET SCIENCE. Although from the way most publishers have been failing lately, you'd think that designing a cover would be as difficult as solving the secrets of Rambaldi. (Can you tell I've been re-watching Alias on Netflix? Damn you and your pointless mysteries, J. J. Abrams!)

The Deal:

Like most fifteen-year-old girls, Amelia has a crush on a guy who is totally unattainable... but not because he's a fictional character or famous pop star or Homecoming King. Her object of adoration, Chris, is someone she actually knows in real life! And they're even friends! So why is Amelia's situation so bleak? Well, because Chris happens to be 21. RECORD SCRATCH. Amelia knows that a relationship with him is impossible, so she privately obsesses over him while they work together at Coles, a local supermarket. One conversation with Chris a day is enough to make Amelia forget about her dreary home life (her dad is always gone, and her mom works her ass off) and her lack of any social cache at school (or anywhere else, really). But what she doesn't realize is that Chris is looking for a distraction, too, and try as he might, he can't help but find Amelia fascinating. Over the course of a year, their friendship deepens, but can they overcome the barrier of their seven-year age difference? And, even if they can, should they?

BFF Charm: Yay!

Amelia Hayes, you are a YA marvel. You've got the awkwardness of Georgia Nicolson, the feminist spark of Frankie Banks and the dry pessimism of Jessica Darling. Which means you are weird and emotional and insanely clueless and kind of an idiot and I LOVE YOU. As your potential bestie, I would have warned you against nursing your crush on Chris, and sure, I would have rolled my eyes when you continued to moon over him, but I also understand that boys your age are totes grody, and I applaud you for taking some emotional risks. Even in your most angst-ridden moments, you never lost your sense of humor or your sense of self, and that makes you an FYA hero.

Swoonworthy Scale: 6

Ok, let's face it: the idea of any kind of romance between a 15-year-old and a 21-year-old is nasty at its worst and unsettling at its best. There's usually Daddy issues and sexual desperation involved. But with that said, the evolving relationship between Amelia and Chris isn't disturbing, not in the least. Part of that is due to the naturality of Amelia's crush. I mean, Chris is bursting with charm and charisma, plus he actually pays attention to Amelia. And, thanks to his own journals (more on that below), we know that Chris is well aware of the issues with their age gap. What makes the swoon in this story so compelling (and appropriate) is its foundation in their friendship. Whether they're engaged in witty banter across the market registers or debating serious intellectual topics, Amelia and Chris are kindred spirits, and you can't help but root for that connection.

Talky Talk: She Said, He Said

The book alternates between Amelia and Chris' journals, which gives the reader a deep understanding of both characters and consequently a strong grasp on the complexities of their friendship. Buzo has created vivid, unique voices for both Amelia and Chris, and I felt equally drawn to both of them. There are a few times when one of the journals gets ahead or behind of another, and while this was mildly frustrating, it made me sympathetic to how much Amelia and Chris actually don't know about each other. This novel is Laura Buzo's debut, and I was impressed with her deft exploration of a taboo subject as well as her excellent character development. When it comes to balancing angst and humor, girlfriend's got skills!

Bonus Factor: Taboo Topic

I always appreciate a book that can tackle a controversial idea and unravel it into understandable and even sympathetic layers. When I began the book, I was immediately like, "Amelia, girl, don't even THINK about trying to date a 21-year-old." But thanks to the nuanced portraits provided by Buzo, I eased away from my snap judgements.

Bonus Factor: After School Job

For Amelia, working at the supermarket isn't just a way to earn cash. It's also a way to experience a whole new world, full of college kids, late night parties and juicy gossip. Not only did I admire her for working so hard (on top of all of her homework), I sort of... envied her. And then I remembered minimum wage and NOPE NOT JEALOUS AT ALL.

Bonus Factor: Feminism

Lucky for Amelia, she has a crazy cool English teacher who assigns the class to read The Feminine Mystique and The Bell Jar. (That's how you can tell this book is set in Australia and not the U.S., because THAT WOULD NEVER HAPPEN HERE.) Inspired by these texts, Amelia analyzes her family situation and gets into fervent arguments with Chris about whether or not feminism screwed over her mom. Sure, she's naive, but I still felt proud of her.

Casting Call:

Xenia Goodwin as Amelia

And even though they're actually 11 years apart (yikes!), I couldn't help but picture...

Sean Biggerstaff as Chris

Hopefully, he can handle an Australian accent.

Relationship Status: The Odd Couple

Look, book. I wasn't sure about you when we first met. I mean, you seemed kind of crazy, not to mention inappropriate. But it didn't take me long to realize that I adore you, even though you push my buttons. You're funny and thoughtful, and your dark tendencies always keep things interesting. People might not understand our relationship, but I don't care! To hell with them! I think you're fantastic, and our differences only make our friendship stronger.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from Random House Children's Books.  I received neither money nor cocktails for writing this review (dammit!). Love and Other Perishable Items is available now.

Posh Deluxe's photo About the Author: Sarah lives in Austin, TX, where she programs films at the Alamo Drafthouse. Sarah enjoys fancy cocktails, dance parties and anything that sparkles (except vampires).