Love and Other Perishable Items

Laura Buzo.. Knopf, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-375-87000-2

Set over the course of a year, Buzo's debut, first published in Australia, tracks 15-year-old Amelia as she pines over Chris, a boy six years her senior, who works the checkout with her at a supermarket in New South Wales. Amelia knows that a relationship with Chris is probably impossible, but she can't get him out of her head. From the beginning, Buzo underscores the idea that Chris and Amelia are simply at different stages of their lives (a line Chris even uses on Amelia at one point). Chapters told from Amelia's perspective are all about Chris, even as she vents her frustrations about her parents' relationship and feeling young and naïve. Conversely, Amelia barely warrants a mention in Chris's chapters, diary entries in which he mopes over being dumped by the love of his life and details partying with friends at university. Throughout, readers see how little Amelia really knows about Chris, a powerful bit of dramatic irony. It's a believable and often funny portrait of the messy relationship between a starry-eyed but sharp-witted teenager and a young man stumbling his way into adulthood. Ages 14–up. (Dec.)
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