Survival Instinct by Janie Crouch

Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo

Synopsis: Love is awkward, Amelia should know.
From the moment she sets eyes on Chris, she is a goner. Lost. Sunk. Head over heels infatuated with him. It’s problematic, since Chris, 21, is a sophisticated university student, while Amelia, 15, is 15.
 
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 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?
 
Through a year of befuddling firsts—first love, first job, first party, and first hangover—debut author Lauren Buzo shows how the things that break your heart can still crack you up.
 
Review: Love and Other Perishable Itemsis not a typical young adult romance. Buzo dives into her characters desires, emotions, and experiences, creating a story that is honest, intelligent, and vivid.
 
When I started reading this novel, I had no idea that it was going to be written in multiple perspectives. Laura Buzo starts with Amelia’s point of view and gets us comfortable with her narration. Written in present tense, Amelia’s chapters follow her through her daily life. The middle child between an older sister already in college and a younger sister in preschool, Amelia has a hard time getting her parents’ attention. School work is hard, and the best friend she’s had for years might be slipping away from her. Working at the local grocery store, ironically referred to as the Land of Dreams, is actually the time when Amelia has the most fun. And that is all because of Chris, the older guy she is totally crushing on.
 
Having been in Amelia’s place before, I absolutely loved being able to know what the guy was thinking. Chris’s narration is brutally honest. He lays himself right out for readers—his jealousy of the best friend who has his life all in order, his history with the girl who broke his heart, his fear that his degree in sociology will be useless and he’ll end up working in the Land of Dreams for his entire life. Chris does not shy away from describing his drinking habits, sexual escapades that he later regrets, or his growing feelings for Amelia. I could not get enough of Chris’s diary entries.
 
My favorite part of this novel is that it bridges the gap between teenagers and twenty-somethings. Amelia feels the way she does about Chris because they have a lot in common: they both read classic novels and are constantly analyzing society. In contrast to fifteen-year-old Amelia, the twenty-somethings that Chris and Amelia work with are far from being on the same intellectual level as Chris. There are obviously several issues with Chris and Amelia’s age difference—“Accompany Amelia on the upcoming round of her friends’ sweet sixteen birthday parties. Attempt to smuggle her into bars for my friends’ birthday parties,” as Chris points out—, but Buzo does show that their feelings for each other are not be laughed at or frowned upon. Is personality or age a better determinant of love? Buzo ask this question and then answers it firmly with the former.
 
Love and Other Perishable Items is so different from other young adult romances because it goes beyond the love plot and includes several subplots, the most intelligent of which is Amelia’s family life. Amelia’s father is a play director, meaning that his work comes and goes, and so does he. While Amelia’s father is entirely wrapped up in his career, Amelia’s mother provides steady income by working as a teacher while also doing all of the housework and caring for her three children. Amelia has a problem with this, and she is right to. Chris’s analysis of Amelia’s argument and later acceptance of it is an important part of the novel.
 
Laura Buzo’s Love and Other Perishable Items will make you laugh, cry, and think. So go read it.
 
Reviewed by Stephanie
 
~ 5 DIAMONDS ~