I went into Love and Other Perishable Items with fairly high hopes. I mean, it was a Morris honor book this year. And it sounded really interesting. Plus, the cover is striking (an unfortunate thing to base on, but true).
There is something so raw and honest about this book. It doesn't hide what it's doing. It doesn't make you love these characters and then tell you about the age gap. It lays everything on the table from the very beginning. And Buzo does it in a way that makes you love both characters.
I loved both Amelia and Chris. Amelia is so likable. She is so genuine and honest in what she is feeling. I feel like she manages to be so distinct in her characteristics while still an every-girl. I think there are few people out there who can't relate to having an unattainable crush. Buzo writes her in this way that makes her feelings for Chris so realistic that I feel like it can apply to girls and guys. The feelings are so raw.
Amelia has so much passion about everything. She is so buttoned down and bottled up at home. Chris brings out her energy and fire. He listens to her and discusses things with her and wants to help her learn. She is so bright and book smart and so life naive. And Buzo sets her up to be naive without making her seem stupid. She has a practical steak that I relate to and love.
I really half expected to dislike Chris. To be appalled by him or just completely uninterested. But I saw what Amelia saw. He is charismatic and charming. I loved how much he loved literature and how easily he could apply it to what he and Amelia were talking about. He was struggling with his own heartbreak and I love that Amelia could tell that he was damaged but not how damaged he was. He hid how bad it was and I loved getting to see that through his eyes rather than hers. My only nose-wrinkling moment was his drug use and how casually it was thrown in but it ends up being part of a night that he regrets and I think it contrasts with what Amelia brings out in him.
I am impressed by how awkward their relationship could have been and how Buzo made it all feel so natural. They really cared for each other and I loved the different ways that their affection for each other came across. Amelia has that young, no holds full on consuming crush. Chris has that sort of love for Michaela but I think develops a different, more reserved sort of love for Amelia. He realizes how alive they make each other. But with the age difference it doesn't work. They're not enough on one another's level.
I sort of loved the supporting cast. They were all such true representations of the different people that you can meet. The way everyone had problems but didn't necessarily see them as problems. Everyone has these different lives and there's a little bit of every kind of life thrown in. I would have liked to have seen more of Amelia's relationship with Penny. Their friendship is so realistic with it's distractions. So many book friendships show two people who tell each other every little detail but not every friendship is like that and I really enjoyed seeing one that was a little different.
The language that Buzo uses, and how it changes between the two characters is brilliant. Their personalities really come through and the differences between them shine so brightly. Chris' wit and humor and self deprecation. Amelia's desire to learn and willingness to try new things and her easy read of other people.
This book just strike me as so right in the feelings and characters that it is depicting. Buzo hits all the right notes in what she trying to do. I think it easily lives up to the award that it has won. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a good, realistic YA read.
Overall, I give Love and Other Perishable Items a rating of: Massively Epic.
I am so impressed with how accurately Buzo captures emotions.
Have any of you read Love and Other Perishable Items?
Next I am reading Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary. It's been so long and I'm excited to read it again. I remember loving Ramona.
Until next time,