February 15, 2011

Book Review: Good Oil by Laura Buzo

Good Oil
Love this cover. Don't know why, I just do.
At First Sight: Amelia Hayes divides her time between school, taking care of her baby sister Jess, work and daydreaming about Chris. Ever since she started to work at Woolies (a groceries store), she has been falling for Chris, the guy who introduced her to the mysteries of the cash register, obscure produce and whom generally makes her shifts tolerable. Too bad it's all a hopeless business since she's 15 and he's 21 and sees her as nothing more than the grasshopper to his sensei.

Or does he? Chris' life hasn't been great in the last few months. He's living in the limbo of being about to finish college, of not being ready to break from it, of living at home with his parents and not wanting to get a serious job, of everyone else moving forward to adulthood and leaving him a little behind. He sees Amelia as someone special - to him and in general - even though she can't see it herself, he likes being around her because it's easy and she gets him in many ways, and she makes him truly smile for the first time since the last girl that stomped all over his heart. 

But is that enough?

Second Glance: I don't know what it's about Australian authors  but their writing generally makes me feel so raw inside. Told in alternating 'sections' from both Amelia and Chris's perspectives, Good Oil made me feel so many things and ache so bad and laugh so hard.

I felt for Amelia, remembering what's like to be fifteen and in love with someone unattainable. I loved Amelia's general narrative, how she talks about her life, the ups and downs of her family and her best friend Penny, of the world changing around her and how she feels about it. Of how she feels about Chris and her view of feminism, and so many other things.

Chris was harder to like at times, because he can be a real selfish jerk, but if anything redeems him is how unflinching he is about himself. His 'narrative' comes in the form of the diaries he keeps and it was a stroke of genius. I particularly loved to see how Amelia starts to insinuate herself into his life, how she becomes 'important' to him, in her own quiet way. Once you encompass the whole of his history -not just as seen though Amelia's eyes - he makes sense, and he turns out to be decent enough a guy, even with his occasional jerky tendencies. 

I even loved the ending, and I think the tag line of this book captures it really well: "A book of first loves and second thoughts."

Bottom Line: Good Oil is wonderful book that made me laugh and cry and feel again all that delicious agony of being truly hopelessly in love. It's definitely an afterglow-kind of book, a book that lingers - Proof of that is that it has been a week since I finished reading and I still have Chris and Amelia on my mind.

Favorite Quote: "The universe is against me, I think, as I read down the page. Incredible. Here I am, able to treat myself to the words of longing, desire and downright worship in Chris’ funny handwriting, knowing that they are not for me and never will be. Thanks universe. Thanks heaps. You bastard." - Amelia

About Amelia: "She even takes the goings-on of fictitious characters personally. These are the things she thinks about when she is packing groceries." - Chris
starstarstarstar1/2Personal Favorite


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