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Love and Other Perishable Items

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A wonderful, coming-of-age love story from a fresh new voice in YA fiction.

'Miss Amelia Hayes, welcome to The Land of Dreams. I am the staff trainer. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei and I will give you the good oil. Right? And just so you know, I'm open to all kinds of bribery.'

From the moment 15-year-old Amelia begins work on the checkout at Woolworths she is sunk, gone, lost...head-over-heels in love with Chris. Chris is the funny, charming, man-about-Woolies, but he's 21, and the 6-year difference in their ages may as well be 100. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien but will he ever look at her in the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

243 pages, Library Binding

First published January 1, 2010

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About the author

Laura Buzo

5 books176 followers
Laura Buzo was born and grew up in Sydney, middle of three daughters. Growing up she loved swimming, riding horses, tennis, netball, running, chocolate and above all, reading. After university, Laura worked as a social worker in various acute and community-based mental health settings in Sydney. In 2005 she took some time away from work to start writing her first novel, Good Oil. Laura is still working as a social worker and has a young daughter. She lives in Sydney.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,204 reviews
Profile Image for Aj the Ravenous Reader.
1,030 reviews1,045 followers
July 28, 2016

Such a cute read! Just the title and the book cover alone already made me want to take the book home which I did and which I didn’t regret because this is one of the more genuine, more honest coming off age stories about being fifteen, being awkward and falling in love for the first time, about heartbreak, about the toughness of being at that crucial age of entering the world of adulthood and generally about growing up.

Creatively told in the alternating POVs, Amelia’s voice and Chris’ narrative through his diary, we learn about these two very well rounded, very well depicted characters who are worlds and ages apart, (Amelia is 15 and Chris is 21) and how they find this sort of magical connection with each other in the Land of (Broken) Dreams aka the local supermarket where they both work part-time.

For the faint-hearted and for those easily grossed out, worry not because whatever you might be thinking inside that dirty head of yours, this isn’t one of those stories. Written very smartly and humorously, the story talks not only about love but also about literature, feminism, society and so many other significant subjects as well. I didn’t expect this to be a very thought provoking read but this really is.

In my honest, humble opinion, this is one of the better YA books written out there, the same thing I said about Melina Marchetta’s Looking for Alibrandi (Go, Aussies!) Even the conclusion although open-ended still gives a very powerful message especially to the youngsters out there. I’d say it’s perfectly done.

Definitely, definitely recommended!

Profile Image for Tatiana.
1,401 reviews11.7k followers
August 25, 2011
As seen on The Readventurer

This book spoke to me like only very few do. It fit me like a perfect glove.

From the opening scenes when 15-year old Amelia is totally in love with and obsesses over her too-old-for-her co-worker Chris (oh, those simultaneously horrifying and sweet K-Mart check-out flashbacks of Justin, cold sweat, mumbling and crimson cheeks); to the humor, in equal parts witty, deprecating and pain-filled (Chris buys a sixpack of beer on the way to Rino’s. James Squire something-or-other. ‘Special treat,’ he says, parting with a twenty-dollar note. ‘You like beer don’t you?’ I hate beer. Hate it. ‘Yeah!’ Oh, well. Love is pain. Or is it beauty is pain? I wouldn’t know about the latter, but the former makes my sternum ache); to the characters - Amelia, naive, idealistic and smart, and Chris - love-torn, scared of his future and indecisive; to the not-friendship-not-love relationship between Amelia and Chris that is refreshingly unique; to the conversations about families, feminism, books, love and life; to, of course, the ending which is a heart-aching perfection in my eyes. I loved it all.

I doubt Good Oil would be everyone's perfect fit, simply because so much of my affection for this book came from the connection to the characters and their peculiar troubles. But it worked wonders for me.

My overseas connoisseurs of Australian teen lit, keep these fabulous book recommendations coming, please!
Profile Image for Nataliya.
745 reviews11.9k followers
April 27, 2023
It seems that almost every book with young characters runs a risk of becoming a mixture of love story and coming-of-age journey - a combination that can easily turn stale, grounded in tropes, cliché-filled pseudo-deep conclusions and quasi-sophistication.
After all, the pains of growing up are far from unique. They seem stereotypical for a reason - we all have been there.

And yet, while you are there, caught in the moments - the years, actually - of painful transition "in no-man’s-land between the trenches of childhood and adulthood," it all feels raw and new to you, and, like any transition, riddled with uncertainty and disappointments and harsh lessons.
What Laura Buzo managed to do was capture that scary feeling of transition between stages in life and present it in a thoughtful, touching and self-deprecating way that gives the old stereotypes new unexpected freshness. What she also managed to do is give a fair spotlight to things beyond love and growing up - to things like social issues, economic constraints, and gender roles.

If you have lived through adolescence and young adulthood, you will probably recognize either yourself or at least someone you used to know in Amelia and Chris.

Amelia, a serious and introspective girl who "even takes the goings-on of fictitious characters personally" is still young enough to still count her age in years AND months. She feels that she does not quite fit in - like you'd expect a fifteen-year-old. She has unhappy parents and less than ideal home life, and juggles quite a few responsibilities.

Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll are not in her life at this point - but at least some of them are in the life of Chris, her coworker at Wollworths' grocery store, six years her senior and the object of Amelia's desperate, all-encompassing crush.
“You’re pretty passionate about your unhappiness, aren’t you, Chris?”
I looked right back at her and said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”
Chris, "the drama queen that he is", is at a vulnerable time in life, feeling a bit lost on a brink of real adulthood, about to finish college but unsure what to do with his life, living with parents because of financial reasons, fixated on a broken relationship by drinking himself senseless and obsessively looking for the Perfect Woman (which Amelia, by the virtue of being a tenth-grader, cannot be for him, understandably - to quote Chris, "Because you are fifteen and I’m twenty-two, we have nothing in common socially and are at completely different stages in our lives."), feeling cripplingly insecure and lonely, underachieving and inadequate, and envious of those who seem to have their lives all figured out while he's stuck in limbo of Woolworths grocery store - or, as he calls it, the Land of Broken Dreams.
"Bottom line is — I can’t run my own race. I’m constantly checking what’s happening in the other lanes."

The aforementioned "Land of Broken Dreams", ladies and gentlemen.

The unexpected friendship between Amelia and Chris brings along conversations about books (Dickens, Fitzgerald, Plath), unhappy family lives (the sad unfulfillment in Amelia's parents' lives is depressingly realistic) and social issues.

My favorite parts (not unexpectedly) were the pages that unexpectedly (for a young adult book!) and very appropriately tackled serious ideas of misunderstanding feminism and deeply ingrained gender roles within families - and does it in a way that is likely to ring true for most readers.
Why is it that women are STILL expected to work AND do all the housework AND raise children? When did 'having it all' turn into 'doing it all' - and in such subtle little ways that few noticed it? And why do we often blame feminism for it - like Amelia does initially - before we stop to think where it's coming from? And why does it take us so long to notice who would *normally* clean the refrigerator?
So, let's sum up:

Dedicated "to absent friends", this book is a story about real friendships, the kind that we miss years and decades later - both with people who touch our lives in unexpected ways and disappear (like Chris) and those who quietly stay by your side through the heartaches (like Penny).

It's the story of adolescence and youth that is far from perfect and yet quite real - filled with disappointments, realistic family troubles, looking for acceptance and belonging, stupid choices, smart choices, idealizing so many things, misunderstanding serious concepts, moments of sheer idiocy, discussing 'The Great Gatsby' and Dickens with your best friend who is also your heart-stopping hopeless crush - all told in a self-deprecating, at times very funny and sometimes touchingly sad way.

And it's a story about growing up, crossing the thin but crucial border between childhood and adulthood - the one that spans years and happiness and disappointments alike.

I loved this book for all the "real" feeling it has, for the slight sadness and unexpected nerdy coolness and the deeper issues it so unexpectedly easily touches on. I loved that it underscores that not getting something you dearly want may still be good for you. I loved it for its ending - the only possible one, and the one that makes me want to hug Amelia and offer to be her big sister. My future hypothetical adolescent daughter will someday see this book on her future hypothetical bookshelf.
4 stars - despite it poking fun at the Dire Straits 'Romeo and Juliet' song which - don't judge me! - I quietly love.
"It was a pretty poor showing all the way through, but when I got to the bit where I was writing out the lyrics from the Dire Straits “Romeo and Juliet” song, I had to rip that out. But then, I really want to be more honest in this diary than I have been in past ones, so everything else stays in. It’s bad enough that I present such a heavily edited version of myself to my friends and family; if I start editing my diary, it will reinforce my already overwhelming tendency to be gutless. But let us never speak of it.

For the record, she really did cry when we made love and said she loved me like the stars above and would love me until she died. But, you know, people say shit in the moment."
Profile Image for Nomes.
384 reviews376 followers
March 22, 2011
4.5 stars :)

Funny and true and sophisticated and charming and brilliantly Australian. Reading this book just felt like a breath of fresh air. I completely fell in love with it, it struck a chord with me and I know this book will resonate for a long time. In fact, I already can't wait to re-visit it.

It's told from Amelia and Chris's POV - but not in alternating chapters - more in chunks - first from Amelia, and then from Chris. When it swivels to Chris's POV it rewinds in time which was brilliant, as I was anticipating up-coming events but from his perspective - loved that angle, kept me flipping the pages.

I don't want to say much plot-wise as when I went into it I didn't really know what to expect and I loved approaching it like that...

Amelia spends a lot of time crushing on Chris, which is understandable because, hey, I was crushing on him too :)

As for Chris? He is such a well written character, from Amelia's POV and from his own. His struggles with his future and mates and Uni and living at home and with various girls just felt so real and I adore him in a similar way to how I feel about Tom MacKee from Melina Marchetta's The Piper's Son and Saving Francesca.

Really, it wasn't just the story but the themes in this book that spoke to me: that hopefulness and angst that teen girls have, being naive yet day-dreamy. The perspective that a few years brings with Chris and how that age gap really does feel like an impossible thing. That feeling of being in your early twenties and not knowing what the heck you're doing with your life.

Maybe some people won't realise the power of this book - but underneath such an unassuming storyline there is magic in there. Magic. And I have heard this book compared to finding a new hidden talent such as when Melina Marchetta first bound on the scene with Looking For Alibrandi. Yeah, absolutely - Laura Buzo has the same talent for characters that feel real and a voice that comes straight from the soul of a teen.

I think some of the best contemporary novels are the ones that don't strive to be LOUD and edgy and OMG all the time but that have the confidence to quietly bleed emotion and genuine characters on to the page.

The prose was seamless, beautiful and engaging. I'm crushing on the writing.

The ending was so startling and bittersweet that I realised it's been a while since I've read such a perfect and lingering ending. Endings are important, hey? This one made me ache and took my breath away and guaranteed a permanent place for Chris and Amelia in my heart.

I didn't want it to end. I still want to imagine Chris and Amelia out there and re-visit them in their twenties and thirties and when they're old so that their story doesn't have to end for me. So, yeah, if laura's keen on a sequel I'd absolutely be there! :)

I recommend this to: guys and girls, fans of Melina Marchetta (and also fans of Kirsten Murphy) and readers who love an unpredictable and original heart-felt coming-of-age and love story.
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,964 reviews294k followers
March 30, 2012

Another great aussie novel, only this time I got warm fuzzies instead of gut-wrenching depression. Good Oil is light, funny, occasionally sad, and discusses some important issues in well-written conversations that are as hilarious as they are thought-provoking. It's told from two different perspectives and I think it's the only novel I've read that hasn't bored me when going over the same events from an alternative point of view; it's also probably the only multi-perspective novel where I can't make my mind up which POV I preferred.

On one hand, you have Amelia. She is so many things that I have been at some point in my life: bookish, introverted, naive, and completely obsessively in love with her older co-worker. I think I enjoyed the book all the more because I'd read all the novels she talked about and compared to aspects of her reality; I've had most of the same thoughts, and I went through a similar stage where I first started to learn about feminism and it made me rather unpleasant and angry at the world. I really, really got this girl.

As for Chris, the co-worker and object of Amelia's obsession, he is my personal definition of the perfect boyfriend. I don't care much for these beautiful, charmless boys that have taken over the young adult genre, I've never wanted a guy with super-strength or magical powers, and I've never wanted a vampire (okay, there was that one time...). But I like that he is funny, charismatic and believable. Yeah, that's it, he's so real. I think this is an aussie thing, creating wonderful but realistic characters, I've seen it quite a bit lately. Well, Chris likes to go out and get drunk, he wants to get laid, he's sensitive but he hides it from most people... and I would have fallen for him too.

I thought the ending was handled very well and I liked how we left both Amelia and Chris. I was bracing myself for sadness but it was just the right amount of everything. I mean, throughout I was torn. I desperately wanted Amelia to be happy - the kind of happy she would have found with Chris - but I was aware of the age complications: 15 and 22 is nicht gut. I kept wondering how the author would resolve the situation, the answer is: brilliantly.
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,889 followers
August 11, 2011
Actual rating: 4.5 stars!
Lately I’ve been lucky enough to add a few books to my all-time-favorites list, all of them Australian. Raw Blue, for example, left me with this feeling of beauty and despair that just won’t go away. I realize that I’ve been going on and on about Aussie authors and that I’d even threatened to move there at one point, but I see no reason to stop. Good Oil is just another proof of how special and engrossing their writing style usually is.

This story is about 15-year-old Amelia, 21-year-old Chris and a group of young people working at Woolworths grocery store in Sydney. The narration is equally divided between Chris and Amelia, and although I definitely preferred Chris’ point of view, I felt that both their voices were captured really well.

Amelia is the girl that doesn’t really fit anywhere. Her family life is a mess and, as a rule, she isn’t getting enough attention from her parents or other people. Chris, on the other hand, gets too much attention. He is one of those people who fill the room with their presence. Loud, very intelligent, completely messed up, extroverted and fun, he’s everyone’s favorite guy. He draws Amelia to him like a magnet and they spend a lot of time talking about books and feminism.

She's amusing - all frizzy-haired and fiery. I suspect she can, like, construct sentences and read books.

This is a book you will need to think about. My rating was all over the place while I was reading. At first I thought it will end up being a 4-star book. Then, after reading the last page, I felt very confused and tempted to go with 3 stars, but now, not a day after, I’ve decided to make it 4.5. Processing a book that doesn’t distance itself from reality is always harder than dealing with something you know in your heart is fiction. It’s strange for someone who claims to be such huge fan of realism to have problems with very realistic novels, but that’s me - a walking contradiction.

Usually when I read a book I know exactly how I’d like it to end. I was at a loss this time because no matter how much they have in common intellectually, at the end of the day, Amelia is a kid, and Chris is… not. I was very curious to see how Laura Buzo would handle that particular mess, and I have to admit that I was very impressed, regardless of my initial (conflicted) feelings.

I could go on and on about this book because, unlike most of my friends, I find it much easier to write about books I loved, but I see no point. I loved it. That's all you need to know.
I’m asking you all to read this. I promise you won’t be sorry.
Profile Image for Limonessa.
300 reviews507 followers
August 12, 2011
It is always pleasant when you approach a book with certain expectations and then, after reading it, you realize these expectations were widely exceeded.

That's exactly what happened to me with Good Oil. I knew the book is Australian (always a good sign), that it is YA and I thought it would all be about fluff - this theory supported also by the cover that reminded me of a billboard for a Kate Hudson movie. Doesn't the girl there remind you of her?
I also suspected that this would be a coming-of-age story because, let's face it, isn't YA lit almost all about coming-of-age?
And Bildungsroman it was, although, and this pleasantly surprised me, it was the coming of age of TWO characters, a teen and a not-so-teen anymore.

Of course I am talking about Chris and Amelia.
Amelia is a just turned 15 y.o girl. She is part of a pretty shitty family, of which she seems to be the more mature member. Mature, not experienced. In fact, while on the one hand she is well ahead of her age in her interests and ruminations, she is hopelessly inexperienced and naive on the social skills front.

Chris is 22. He is in that phase of his life which he defines purgatory. He's on the verge between the lingering end of his teen - a jolly good time with no responsibilities - and manhood, time to take action, move out, do something with his life, GROW UP. At the same time though, he doesn't seem to be able to. He studies Arts at Uni, works in a supermarket and spends his time and money drinking a lot, chasing the mirage of a perfect girl and pitying himself.

When Amelia decides to get an after school job at a supermarket and meets Chris, her life - and her hormones - get shaken up well and turned upside down. While Amelia hopelessly falls in love with Chris who can't help but see her as a youngster, these two develop a friendship from which they will both benefit and that will spur them to take their lives in their own hands: Chris by being decisive and Amelia by overcoming her awkwardness in socializing.

The story is told in alternating POVs a bit à la Cath Crowley. Both characters recount the same events, Amelia through simple narration, Chris by writing in his diary. So while, on the one hand, we have Amelia's teen point of view and her struggle through the pains of first love, angst and adolescence, Chris' side is definitely more suitable to the adult side of the young adults category, there being sex, lots of drinking and a fair amount of drugs.

I loved Chris. His personality is explosive, charming, full of life. His voice in the book is so much more vibrant than Amelia's you wonder whose coming-of-age is more fundamental in the book.
He is such a dork. I wanted to stab myself when I read the poem he wrote to a girl, I am so thankful I never received something like that in my life.
Chris, to me, is basically what Tom MacKee should have been but never managed to. I related to him on so many levels, cheered for him, laughed at his jokes and nodded my head at both the way he eventually manages Amelia at the end and at the choice he makes.

The story is well written, realistic, and I loved the way it ended, I wouldn't have had it any other way. First love, unrequited love, family dynamics, friendship, you have it all, with a generous sprinkle of Australian slang . I strongly recommend this book, it is certainly representative of that stunning phenomenon which we have come to observe lately in YA literature that is the Australian movement. (ok, this one I made it up, but doesn't it sound nice?)

On a side note, checking out the Australian Slang Site that Arlene mentioned in her nice review, I finally found out that UGG - as in Ugg boots - means ugly and they were boots worn by surfers in the 60s to keep their feet warm while out of the water. Now everything makes much more sense in my life. Thank you Arlene.
Profile Image for Reynje.
272 reviews962 followers
September 22, 2011

4.5 stars

Full disclosure: This review has little to no objectivity. It’s barely even a review. The whole experience of reading Good Oil was so fraught with nostalgia and personal resonance that any ability I had to critically analyse it was chucked out the window before I’d even finished the first chapter.
”Bottom line is – I can’t run my own race. I’m constantly checking what’s happening in the other lanes.” ~ Chris
”Oh, well. Love is pain. Or is it beauty is pain? I wouldn’t know about the latter, but the former makes my sternum ache.” ~Amelia
Reading this book was like opening a long forgotten photo album, catching glimpses of the ignored past pressed in between sheets of paper. Many of the scenes could have been lifted from the adolescence and young adulthood of myself and my friends – and probably countless others - there was a closeness to my own reality here that made the intertwined stories of Amelia and Chris both laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying funny and stomach-twistingly painful.

Good Oil does a beautiful job of bringing back what it’s like to be 15 and 21, with searing authenticity. As an adult, it’s easy to brush aside teenage emotions as incredibly self-involved and of little consequence in the grand scheme of things. You know the ones I’m talking about. Being so horribly in love you can feel it in your elbows. Desperately earnest and trying to carve out your place in the world. Awkwardness that stalls your tongue and trips up your feet. Feeling disconnected from the lives your peers are leading. The kind of feelings dismissed in later life with a good-natured, indulgent eye roll. Good Oil treats these moments of growing up with sincerity, and respect for how real and all-consuming they are at the time.

Buzo certainly makes her characters stand under direct lighting – there’s no concealing their flaws, or flattering angles here. Everything is laid bare and the characters’ decisions and behaviour are open to scrutiny in all their various shades of grey. But what Buzo masters is showing that nobody is exempt from messing up, and that “good” people are just as capable of inflicting hurt or making dubious choices as the “bad.”

In this respect, Chris is one of the most realistic embodiments of a 21 year old male I’ve yet seen in a young adult novel. I believed every word of his messed-up, self-loathing, conflicted voice and the emotional flagellation he put himself through, or sought to drown in alcohol. He would have been a character easy to dislike, but Buzo also shows his intelligence, humour and kindness – flashes of the person he is capable of being.

And Amelia, oh Amelia, some of her pages were so difficult to read because her voice was so raw and bursting with the passion and frustration and anxiety of fifteen. Her awkwardness felt achingly familiar. I wanted to reach into the pages and assure her that things would change – that eventually she would feel like she fit into her own skin and her own life.

It’s hard to distance myself enough from this book to gain the necessary perspective to discuss things like plot and character arcs and pacing and so on. It read like pieces cut from real life, all rough edges and blurred lines and crushing honesty. Chris and Amelia and the supporting cast were less like characters than people you would walk by down the street, or had figured somewhere in your past.

I can’t my put my finger on exactly what feeling this book conjured as I read it – but the closest I can think of is homesickness. The complex tangle of nostalgia and yearning, and the realization that life rarely works out the way you think it will. The small fragments of realism (the drive from Sydney to Newcastle, drinking James Squires’, part-time checkout jobs, sneaking into the pub, PE with no showers afterwards, Augie March, families that drive you crazy… I could keep going here) pieced together a story that I absolutely believed and completely broke me down. The ending is quietly powerful and wrenching, and it lingered long after I closed the book.

Gush and awe aside – some parts of the story did feel a little awkwardly placed, for example, the recurrent them of Amelia’s aversion to her parents’ smoking. While it illustrated part of her character, I felt it occasionally came across a little heavy-handed. Minor matter of personal taste though, I guess.

Good Oil is probably best summed up with the quote from the back cover: “A story that’s real and warm and just a little bit heartbreaking.”

It really, really is.
Profile Image for Giselle.
990 reviews6,365 followers
December 9, 2012
Previously released in Australia under the name Good Oil, Love and Other Perishable Items is one of those reads that are one hundred percent refreshing. You sit, you read, you enjoy the time you spend with it, and then you move on. Nothing profound happens, nothing even that exciting happens. Actually, nothing really happens at all other than an average year in an average teenage girl's life. This is what initially sent me into indecision about how to rate this book after I turned the last page. I liked it, I really did. It's short, it has fantastic characters, but it is really a story about nothing.

Some may say life is about nothing, and perhaps this is the angle Laura is going for. This story is undoubtedly realistic. We don't always get the things we want, or end up with a happy ending--or a bad one. Sometimes, life is just life. On one hand, I read books to escape from mundane life happenings, I want sparks and excitement, a book that brings surprises and guilty pleasures, but on the other hand, I appreciate the authenticity of this book, the "true to life" factor. At any rate, I was surprisingly wrapped up in Amelia's story. Her being such a memorable character turned this uneventful tale into something kind of wonderful. Who knew the dynamics of a supermarket crew could become so tangled?

Amelia is a girl with a crush. A crush that makes your heart flutter along with hers. But unfortunately, their age difference is a big obstacle in their path which makes it a viciously bittersweet love story. It makes you savor every moment. Amelia's naive young mind is endearing throughout this story. Her best quality, though, is her intelligence; she's smart and cultured, she cares deeply about things way beyond her years, like feminism. This trait creates some witty and fascinating dialogue that even supplies food for thought. These interactions were my favourite parts of this novel. What is also a pleasure is how, at first, we see everything through Amelia's eyes, but then, we rewind and go through it all again in Chris's perspective. You'd think this would get monotonous, but it doesn't. Seeing how Chris perceives things differently, or getting to understand his rationalizations, gives it this extra flair to help you connect with these people and their situation even more.

This novel may as well be called "A Year in the Life of An Average Teenage Girl With a Crush, When Nothing Happens", however I couldn't help but find it inexplicably charming. Can a book be both uneventful and addicting? This book is a warm sunny day where you don't have to do more than sit and relish in it.

An advance copy was provided by the publisher for review.

For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads
Profile Image for Brooke.
136 reviews167 followers
November 22, 2011
2.5 - 3 stars.

Okay. I'm just going to get straight to the point - this book was a pretty epic disappointment for me.

Why? It had so much going for it! I loved Amelia, Chris (through Amelia's eyes) made me swoon - but what the hell happened?! It was like... build up, build up, change POV, go back in time, catch up, change POV, climax, sadness, boring talk, the end.

Perhaps the male jerkiness aspect just shirted me off, or the fact that Amelia was so wrapped up with Chris, or the way things panned out. I donno. I'm feeling a little flustered right now.

I loved reading things from Amelia's POV, she was real, naive, adorable, witty. I like the girl. I related to her, the checkout chick (4.5 years at Woolworths will do that to you), cue nostalgia. I had those crushes, I worked with those guys, it was great. But when Chris' came around I found myself skimming the page. And I hate that. It just didn't interest me.

I just didn't like the ending, either. I mean, I love a good cliffhanger, but it wasn't really a 'real' ending.

Just... a let down. Sorry guys, I know some of you loved this one, but I just don't get it. Perhaps it's just me.

Profile Image for Arlene.
1,156 reviews641 followers
February 18, 2011
I am Chris, your friendly staff trainer. You’ll be with me for three hour shifts. I will call you grasshopper and you will call me sensei. And I will give you the good oil. Right?

I don’t even know where to begin with this book. I loved it...let’s start with that. It made me think about a lot of things...there’s another point to offer. But, there’s just so much that makes up this story and to try and dissect it would just be criminal. I had no clue what to expect with Good Oil. Heck, I didn’t even know what it stood for, so if you don’t either, let me give you a little heads up... it’s Australian slang for useful information, a good idea, the truth. I didn’t know Austrailians had their own language and this book is filled with little aussie-isms so here’s a helpful Australian Slang site you can use to translate their speak.

Anywho,I digress... This book revolves around fifteen year old Amelia who gets an afterschool job at the local supermarket and manages to meet and fall head over heals for her twenty-one year old co-worker/trainer Chris. Yes, train wreck waiting to happen, but as everything was unfolding, truths were being revealed, emotions were being laid out, and hearts were being broken, there was a part of me, albeit small part because of their age difference that really wanted this train to make it safely to the station. You’ll have to read the book to find out if it did.

I’m proud of Amelia for how she handles herself throughout the book. She’s ten times more mature than I ever was at her age, and I enjoyed reading that. She’s honest, angry about a lot of things, but hopeful and determined to move forward. Grant it, she makes a few mistakes here and there, but how she recovers and deals with the mess had me clapping enthusiastically and becoming a fan of hers. One of the final scenes that involved her not going to a certain somewhere, I was wooting and cheering for her because it took a lot of restraint to just leave bad enough alone. Loved her!

Now Chris, what can I say about him that my favorite quotes below won’t already reveal? I loved his perspective that he chose to share in the form of journal entries. He’s funny as all get out and his honesty made me just want to hand him a twinkie and hug him... after he eats the twinkie of course. He knows what he has going for him, but for obvious reasons chooses to focus on what sucks in his life. For example, he says:

I’m young; I’m healthy; there is a roof over my head, food on the table, heat in the house; I have friends; I have access to tertiary education; I live in a safe city with clean beaches – and I’m miserable most of the time. I spend most of my time massaging my temples or fuming about a range of grievances. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to wrap up now so I can watch the patch of sunlight on my bedroom wall fade as the sun slowly sets, casting my room in darkness.

Woah! Deep!

So when you pair up angry Amelia and unsatisfied Chris, flavor it with endeering moments, fun conversations and honest journal entries and letters, you’re going to get a story that moves you, makes you smile, causes you to shake your head in frustration and leave you with a sense of wanting an epilogue that glimpses into their lives two or three years down the road. Loved their journey and I’d travel outback with them any day!

Favorite Quotes All Chris... no surprise, right?
‘You’re very passionate about your unhappiness aren’t you, Chris?’ I responded with, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.”

Phwoar. I need a beer.
Right. Beer o’clock

She’s-big-she’s-blond-she-works-in-deli Georgia

Harvey out.
PS I have puny shoulders.
PPS And I’m okay with that.
PPPS I’m not really.

I have very little remaining in the way of brain cells. What’s everyone else’s excuse?

I covet my neighbor’s oxen. I’m not happy for people who have their lives sorted out and go about living them, who have money, independence, intelligence, influence. I can’t run my own race. I’m constantly checking what’s happening in the other lanes.

Whack! Pow! Bam! Holy horible punch-in-the-face, Batman!

Chris says: So Amelia, what do you hate? You know, despise, loathe, abhor. What erodes you from the inside?
Song Choice: Hate Every Beautiful Day – Sugarcult

Extra Notes:
Warning: I’ve been asked this before, so I’ll just make a note so I don’t forget. Yes, this book is filled with a ton of foul language infused in a fuckwittery fashion. It didn’t bother me one bit, but there’s a lot of it. There’s also drinking and drugs. You’ve been warned... Enjoy the show.

Finally, thank you Albie for sending me this book all the way from New Zealand and thanks to Nomes for challenging me to read this. I loved it, as you can tell. :D
Profile Image for ~Tina~.
1,092 reviews159 followers
December 1, 2010
Oh Gawd! To be a 15 years old again and be that naive little girl who wears her emotions on her sleeve and feels to much and thinks so hard and dreams of a guy who she could never have simply because a few numbers are in the way and your life will never be the same again cause he gave you that kiss that he never shouldn't have and you'll pine away for the rest of your youth, till that One Day he comes strolling back in your life, years later, and proclaims his love for you, finally has come at last!!!!

... Yeah, I wouldn't go back there for all the gold in China people.

Good Oil starts off the story with fifteen year old, Amelia Hayes. She's been hit by first love. Only problem is she's in love with a guy who's twenty-one years old. Chris Harvey has his own emotional baggage but the two developed a cutey working friendship that escalates into intellectual conversation about books and theories and ponder the meaning of life as they know it. Only fueling the desire in Amelia heart leading to a hopeless situation of unrequited love for the guy who makes her world spin.
A tender story of first crushes and the devastating blow that comes with it.

Amelia is a really sweet character and she reminds me so much of myself at that age, when I was nothing but an adolescent-bumbling-idiot who did the wanting what you can't have bit, and dreaming the One-Days for wasted-years after wasted-years.
Yeah, not much fun. But never the less, she's a sweet kid and I felt embarrassed for her and cringed with her and hoped right along with her because when you read a situation like this, there nothing that you want more then for the girl to have her dreams come true.
Then there is Chris. He's got one of the best personalities and I can see what Amelia is going on about here. Funny, intelligent and has an effortless way with his charm. That is, till you reach his point of view. Dame! Dramatic, emotional and intense much there, Chris? Poor guy I actually felt really bad for him and might not have always agreed with his methods, but for what it's worth, I found his honesty refreshing, messed up, completely real and oh so sexy!

Laura Buzo pens a really great and remarkable story. It's one of those books where you totally want different circumstances for these characters and yet, you wouldn't have changed a thing. I really loved the ending since it was very realistic and anything else would have probably ruined it. It doesn't actually call for a sequel but I'd love another round with these two again. They are just that awesome.
Overall, a really sweet and agonizing story that reminds you that once a upon a time you really were that young and that even the youngest of minds can make a impact on the wildest of hearts.
Wonderfully done!

Special thanks to Nic for sending me a copy. I.couldn't.put.it.down.
I wouldn't have had the great pleasure of knowing Chris and Amelia story, so thanks babe! xo
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,889 followers
December 13, 2012
4.5 stars
I don't read contemporary YA that often, but when I do, I almost always go for Australian. There's just something about the complex subtlety of their prose that pulls me right in each and every time. I first read Good Oil (title of Aussie edition) almost two years ago and it remans, to this day, one of my favorite contemporary books. It is, after all, yet another proof of how special and engrossing their writing style usually is. There must be something in the water!

This story is about 15-year-old Amelia, 21-year-old Chris and a group of young people working at a grocery store in Sydney. The narration is equally divided between Chris and Amelia, and although I definitely preferred Chris’ point of view, I felt that both their voices were captured really well.

Amelia is the girl that doesn’t really fit anywhere. Her family life is a mess and, as a rule, she isn’t getting enough attention from her parents. Chris, on the other hand, gets too much attention. He is one of those people who fill the room with their presence. Loud, very intelligent, completely messed up, extroverted and fun, he’s everyone’s favorite guy. He draws Amelia to him like a magnet and they spend a lot of time talking about books and feminism.

She's amusing - all frizzy-haired and fiery. I suspect she can, like, construct sentences and read books.

For me, processing a book that doesn’t distance itself from reality is always harder than dealing with something you know in your heart is fiction. I remember how utterly confused and conflicted I was when I first read this. I recognized its brilliance right away, of course, but it still hit too close to home in more ways then I can count.

Usually when I read a book I know exactly how I’d like it to end. I was at a loss this time because no matter how much they have in common intellectually, at the end of the day, Amelia is a kid, and Chris is… not. I was very curious to see how Laura Buzo would handle that particular mess, and I have to admit that I was very impressed, regardless of my initial (conflicted) feelings.

I could go on and on about this book because I find it much easier to write about books that I loved, but I see no point. I loved it. That's all you need to know.
I’m asking you all to read this. I promise you won’t be sorry.

Profile Image for Jo.
268 reviews946 followers
August 31, 2011
"I can’t run my own race. I’m constantly checking what’s happening in the other lanes"

Initial Final Page Thoughts.
YES, AMELIA, YES. *nods in approval*.

High Points.
Amelia. Check-out girls. Intellectuals. Aimless drifters. Wanderlust. Literature. Drunken house parties. Blushes, butterflies and tingly toes. Late night phone calls. Swapping letters. Grey’s Anatomy. Phew.. that was close. *shifty look* Half-off flowers. Plenty.

Low Points.
Hmmm, I go into my minimal problems in my heroine/hero sections so it would be ridiculous to go through them twice.
I’m just hankering for a sequel now… hankerhanker.

As I read this book I started seeing Amelia as this sort of little sister figure. Basically I started foaming at the mouth if anyone mistreated her....
I loved how Ms Buzo wasn’t interested in making her this perfect Mary Sue that the reader will fall head over heels in love with. Because even though I did love her, I recognised her flaws.
I sympathised with Amelia, but her constant belief that Chris was the be all and end all just upset me because I just wanted to give her a cuddle and tell her he’s not worth it.
But I think my adverse reaction just proves how fantastic Ms Buzo is at characterisation: Amelia is an honest and painfully realistic teenager and when I was reading it I honestly felt every stomach flip and blush and frustration she felt.
I also loved that she was very mature for her age without being over the top. And also she’s extremely clever. More YA books need clever heroines who enjoy going to school.
But, a word of advice for you Amelia.
Read it for your own soul.

Oh Christopher. You are Australian. You are a bit of a loser. You have a tendency to drink instead of dealing with your problems. You are in love with an unattainable girl. Sound familiar?
Chris Harvey has a lot of Mackee-avellian qualities.
He’s Mackee-lite.
And from anyone who has ever met me, you will know that Thomas Mackee is my favourite boy, ever. I go crazy over that sexy train wreck.
So you’d think I’d love Chris, right?
Well… I did…. From Amelia’s perspective.
But from his own? No.
I understood him and related to him in a “He’s just completely described my life/anxieties/need to jet off somewhere exotic” but I didn’t think it excused his actions towards Amelia.
I found it very difficult to sympathise with him and there was a lot of times where I just wanted to throttle him for being a patronising pillock who takes advantage and just makes his life worse by making silly decisions and then he just whinges about it and badmouths Dire Straits.
WHICH, by the by, I did not appreciate.
Because that song is amazing.
I know I’m probably being unnecessarily harsh, but I went into complete protective mode with Amelia and I just can’t tolerate oblivious so and sos who are set upon destroying themselves and don’t care about how people they genuinely care about feel even if they are really cute and can talk to me about literature all the live long day.
Unless they are Thomas Mackee, he is the exception to that rule.


He is the exception to every rule.

Theme Tune.

Ten Days by Missy Higgins.

OK, I am in love with this ladies voice and I’m glad to have discovered her because I’ve never heard her before. I have such a weakness when bands/artists don’t lose their accent when they sing a song. (*ahem* )
But yes, this song is lovely and I think it captures Amelia’s feelings perfectly.
*Mutters something about Chris not deserving Amelia’s lovely feelings*

Strictly Savage Garden Story Song.

To the Moon and Back by Savage Garden.
A personal favourite of mine.
“I would fly you to the moon and back
If you'll be, if you'll be my baby
Got a ticket for a world where we belong
So, would you be my baby?”

One day the right kind of pilot will come, Amelia. Just listen to Darren. HE’S NEVER WRONG.

Boy/Girl Angst.
10/10. Jeez louise. Although, for a book which is basically all about boy/girl angst, I only rolled my eyes and got annoyed with Amelia once and it was only because I felt very protective over her and wanted to shake some sense into her.
But Chris. GOSH… He me to shame. And I'm the Queen of Whinge.
This guy could fill a box full of diaries with all his girl angst… oh wait.

Sadness Scale.
This book kind of reminded me of the times when you and your best friend are reminiscing about past crushes and they say: ‘Oh my GOD, remember when you used to fancy that guy? You remember. That awful guy. The one who broke your heart. The one who trampled all over it. The one you cried over for a whole afternoon. You know, what’s his name. The one who destroyed your self-esteem. The one who RUINED YOUR TEENAGE YEARS.’
And you both laugh and roll your eyes and cringe and laugh some more because it really doesn’t matter now.
But when you’re fifteen you wear these kind of boy blinkers and you don’t see that he’s a complete and utter douche and yes, you can be a bit whingey and yes, you can get a bit out of your depth… BUT, I have ultimate faith that in the sequel… the sequel…. the sequel….(Did it work? Damn. A sequel for this book would be gooooooooood)… that Amelia will look back and cringe as well. While shacking up with a smokin’ rugby player. YEAH.
And I know a lot of people will be a bit miffed with the ending. But I absolutely adored it and I think it was the only way it could end without it being too cringe and/or illegal. :-S

Recommended For.
People who like realistic YA fiction. People who have ever had an unrequited crush. People who don’t mind going back to the most awkward days of your life. People who are disgruntled by the end of Great Expectations. People who like to polish furniture at parties.

This review is part of AUSTRALIA WEEK on my blog... you can find out more here.
Profile Image for Rachel Maniacup.
153 reviews79 followers
September 28, 2016

This book is a pleasantly surprising read,because it was refreshing,fun,and cute novel. It would remind you of who you were when you were fifteen..when you come to meet Amelia, the first narrator in this book,who was crushing on a guy (Chris), the 2nd narrator and who was much older than her(21 years old). She made me miss my high school life,when I too was only 15 and finding myself,trying to fit in with everyone,and trying to be noticed by my first serious crush who was also 21 that time.

I never thought,this book would touch me in a way that no other book ever did. This is a great coming of age story because it is relatable and it captures the spirit of adolescence that makes the story realistic and adorable.

I loved Amelia and Chris' relationship,because they share a special bond of togetherness especially when they're having their conversations,as they are both witty,funny,and intelligent. And I was satisfied on how the author ended the story because she thought it cleverly..can't wait to read more of Laura Buzo.

Many thanks to my dear little sister for recommending this entertaining book,that most "youngsters" would enjoy!^^

392 reviews332 followers
October 8, 2010
He didn’t move straight away. He looked at me and, with full eye-contact for maximum impact, said ‘You are the real thing, youngster. I hope you will never change’. Before moving slowly back to his own register.
I know a compliment when I hear one, even if I don’t fully understand the nature of it. The hammer shot that last nail in one strong blow.

Wow. This is such a honest and heartfelt coming of age story. It brought back so many memories of being 15 trying to figure out the world and of course having a crush on someone out of my league.

This is not a cute and fluffy read. There is definitely a lot of funny moments but this book is also a little bit heart wrenching at times. The writing is effortless to read and it is easy to caught up in Amelia and Chris‘ lives. I enjoyed the dual POVS that allowed us to real get a feel of what both characters were feeling. Chris POV at time surprise me. It was so honest and sometimes he mad me mad with some stupid decisions but despite that, I still love him. You can’t help but fall in love with both Amelia and Chris. The both grow so much throughout the book. Amelia my heart went out to her. So relatable, it brought back both the joy and agony of being 15.

I liked the ending, it was realistic but I would loved it more if there was an epilogue of a couple years later. I would love to know what happened with Amelia and Chris further down the track. This book doesn’t need a sequel but I would love one.

Overall, a stunning debut and I hope we hear more from Laura Buzo.
Profile Image for Milly.
637 reviews23 followers
June 18, 2011
The tears did it for me! I have to give it 5 stars!

Good Oil = Australian slang for useful information, the truth, a good idea. Courtesy of the http://www.koalanet.com.au/australian.... I have to thank my Booker friend Arlene, who shared this very helpful website to get me through the slang in this book, which were numerous IMO. But that just adds to the authenticity of this book, which I enjoyed and appreciated!

Now, let us see if I have any Good Oil to give.

This book might just appear to be another coming-of-age book and young adult romance at first glance but it's so much more especially when we read about the subtle and secondary themes of feminism and how that affects the dynamics of Australian families (which was surprising to me), the pressures of a twenty-something guy to make a living and make something out of himself when his chosen major is not as lucrative if he chose to be an engineer or an accountant. Just tidbits about life as a teenager, a young adult, or a parent in Australia was so interesting and introspective. I especially love the parts of the book where both our protagonists become vulnerable and open up to their Moms. Both so powerful and heart strings yankers that I couldn't stop the tears from falling! But that's what I love about this book. It comes off being understated when it truly is a powerful book once it takes a hold of you. But then again, my introspection of any book I read is sometimes over the top so what I saw and felt in this book might be different from someone else's.

Our female protagonist is Amelia, who just turned 15 and just started working at Woolworth's, a grocery or a supermarket in Australia. There she meets her love interest, Chris, who's 21 and her trainer. Chris takes her under his wing and gives her the 'good oil'. Amelia of course falls in love head over heels with Chris. And who wouldn't at that age when someone older like him gives you his time and attention and shares his perspective on life and such. Amelia's never been in love or has never been in a relationship with a boy so this is all new to her. Chris becomes her sun and everything about her revolves around him. That's first love...and we've all gone through that so we know how it is to be like Amelia.

So, Chris, our male protagonist, doesn't really notice Amelia's feelings for him because he's still getting over an old flame and is heavily pondering of what he should do with his life. He feels like his life's in a rut and he's in need of a change but just doesn't know how he could affect that change. Chris is not your typical male protagonist. He's flawed, an alcoholic, and weak most of the time. He's Pip I think (from Great Expectations) living in an illusion that someday he'll be with that old flame of his again and needs to find a way out of that. Sometimes I wished he could just move forward, to stop wallowing and just get a move on with his life. He's not the typical protag you swoon about but you're still attracted to him somehow because he is vulnerable and he does care, perhaps too much that's why he's in such a predicament. I thought it was quite endearing the way he cared and looked after Amelia and how he tried to protect her. But is this love or brotherly love? We learn about Chris in this book through his perspectives in his journal entries and of Amelia's accounts of him.

The book makes a lot of references to Great Expectations and the Great Gatsby as well as other English classics and contemporaries that I found very enlightening since I haven't read any of them but was compelled to do so after reading Good Oil.

There's definitely themes in this book that I could relate to. The themes of feminism for one. I grew up in a patriarchal family where my mother did everything. She worked and still took care of us and the household where in my father just worked and came home waiting for his meal. That's the Filipino culture for you and I disliked it. I vowed that when I got married that I would not marry a man who's raised in this type of culture! I just don't agree with it and I would never live it if I have any say in it. My parents are senior citizens now and my mother still answers to my Dad's beck and call! It still drives me nuts to this day! I was actually surprised that the Aussie families are similar. But is Amelia's family the norm or are they an exception to the rule?

But what tore me up the most in Good Oil were the revelations by Amelia's and Chris' feelings over each other. Could a 15-year old and a 21-year old could really be a couple? Could this really work or were they just asking for heartbreak and heartaches? Be romantic or be realistic? I know I was delusional when I was 15 and I swooned over my older brother's friends, who were 5 years older than I was. They thought me cute...but cute to be a little sister no less! So when Amelia said those 3-words, the only thing going through my mind was..."Oh no you didn't!" But, we've all been 15 and we've all had our first loves. Mine broke my heart and I would always remember. Now I laugh to myself when I see him...balding and unhappy. I know, I know it's mean. So sue me! Revenge is sweet indeed! Hahaha! But...I digress.

I wept and I couldn't stop. My heart was breaking.

Good Oil made me cry without trying. I wept and I hoped. Now I want a darn sequel!!!

I have to thank my special friend, Arlene, for sharing her wonderful book to me!
I have to thank my Booker friends for such an awesome recommendation! Bring in the Good Oil!

Profile Image for Ariana.
938 reviews1,303 followers
January 5, 2011
I can't review it without spoiling it for you (so DON'T READ THIS if you don't want to know anything about the book, the characters, the ending), but if I could give it negative rating I would. I gave it one star just because it means "I didn't like it"

What's the point of this book?
Nothing happens (for like 7/8 of this book..) and in the precise moment when something is about to happen and I am like "ok, maybe it wasn't that pointless", then everything goes down .. end of story.

Am I the only one feeling that way or what?
I mean, I didn't find it funny (ok, not that funny anyways), I didn't find it interesting (there were some nice conversations and that was the only thing keeping me reading it, but not interesting enough), I tried so hard to finish it (and I think that I gave up on more interesting books before).. and maybe it wasn't meant for me (duoh!) but are teenagers really suppose to learn something from it?

This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Albie46.
6 reviews
August 14, 2010
Well, I can't believe how much I loved this book. It's the type of book that perhaps many people would find completely average however to me it struck a real chord.

It's the reasonably familiar story of a fairly naieve 15 yr old girl who develops an all-consuming crush on an older boy at her work. Told through stream of thought diary like entries, from both Amelia and Chris, we as the reader get a very rich insight into the very different thinkings of both the characters.

I think the reason I enjoyed the book so much is because I found it instantly easy to relate to. It brought back memories of when I was that age, and despite Amelia's age she is very mature in many ways and didn't feel like the book came across overly 'young' in feel.

I thought the author did a very good job of allowing us to see the same events, conversations, and situations from two very different perspectives. The contrast was refreshing and I thought very realistic.

I lauged a whole lot throughout this book, and even teared up a little at it's conclusion.
Although not a happily ever after ending, I found it to be still very satisfactory, if a little rushed towards the end. Or perhaps that's just me, not wanting this gem of a little book to end.

I think this was a debut book from this author, but it's certainly cured me of my aversion to reading Australasian books. I'll look forward to any further books from this author.
And although this book is a perfect stand alone book, I wouldn't be disappointed in the least if she followed up this book with an update into Amelia and Chris's lives some time into the future!
Profile Image for Megan.
418 reviews385 followers
December 27, 2011
It really must be something in the water down there. Laura Buzo has that Melina Marchetta quality to her writing. Good Oil was all consuming while I was reading it, but when everything was said and done it is hard to place what is so special about this book. That is, the uniqueness of the book seems to stem from such well-rounded characters and true to life scenarios... which shouldn't be such a great feat from writers. But apparently it is.

Good Oil is the story of a fifteen year old girl with a crush on an older co-worker. Hers is the most painful sort of crush because these two do have a fair amount of chemistry between them and genuinely like each other as friends. Because of their age differences and their lifestyle and personality dissimilarities, you know the odds are stacked against them. But that tricky coworker situation forces them to face each other and their feelings on a regular basis. Buzo manages to capture all of the conflicting emotions of such a relationship so very well. This story is told from the point of view of both Amelia and Chris. Normally a multiple POV one of my least favorite literary choices, but it works amazingly well here. We see just how very different Amelia and Chris are. And because they are actually telling quite different stories, there is no boring rehashing of the same events over and over.

As an adult reader of YA I often find myself lamenting that I didn’t read this book or that book as an actual teen. So many times I realize that a story or character or whatnot would have had a much greater impact on me when I was younger. Although I am certain I would have loved Good Oil just as much as a teen, reading it as an adult has its own advantages. I can’t help but wonder if Buzo based Chris on one of her former boyfriends or crushes? While I couldn’t help falling a little in love with him, it was so easy to see the sort of person he is, and to guess what his actions would be. As a teen, I don’t think I would have been so quick to notice his flaws. (Hell, as a girl who is just as introverted and socially awkward as Amelia I fell for more than my share of guys like Chris. ) The further along I read, the more I felt happy little butterflies in my stomach along with Amelia. Yet the cynical experienced adult inside of me couldn’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety and sorrow .

At the end of this book, I loved it so much but I still wanted more. More of this characters, more of Laura Buzo’s story telling I can’t wait for another book from this author, and hopefully for her works to become available in the United States.
Profile Image for Jasprit.
527 reviews749 followers
October 1, 2011
(4.5 stars)

Good Oil was another book full of Aussie filled goodness which I extremely enjoyed!

Good Oil does a great job of capturing the essence of being a teenager; it reminded me of the many things I wanted to do like go to adult parties, but couldn’t get to do so as I wasn’t considered old enough, experiencing that fluttery feeling in your chest when you see the guy you’ve been crushing on for ages, having a big smile plastered on your face as soon as someone mentions his name, having the whole achy feeling of wanting him so badly but just not having! Basically Good Oil left me with a longing of the times when I was a teenager, all the fun and stupid things I used to get up to with my friends. Gosh how I miss those days!

The characters in Good Oil were a funny bunch; Amelia I felt myself drawn to Amelia straight away I knew exactly how she felt and the fact that she was strong, independent and funny made her an easy to love character. Where shall I start with Chris?? He was just so awesome! Always looking out for Amelia, he was witty and he had so much knowledge about books! How I wish I had known someone like him. Then there was sweet adorable Jess, Bianca who was always ruining the moment between Chris and Amelia and her minions Jeremy and “street cred” Donna and the Kathy virus! Seriously they all had me in endless hysterics!

I enjoyed Buzo’s references to the many characters from different books and how it seemed both Chris and Amelia were talking about the characters from the books but it could be easily interpreted as if they were talking about themselves and what was happening in their lives. What this book has made me realise is that I really enjoy a good alternative pov book, before I was fine with reading from one person’s pov but being able to get into both Chris and Amelia’s minds and knowing their inner thoughts and feelings I absolutely loved it! Especially with Chris, his pov was both so raw and intense but also comical.

Overall Good Oil was an extremely fun and enjoyable read, it’s definitely a feel good book, so if you need a quick pick me up book when you’re feeling tired or run down, Good Oil is guaranteed to brighten up your day and bring a smile to your face!
Profile Image for Isamlq.
1,578 reviews709 followers
March 22, 2011
I love the cover. Amelia looks absolutely ecstatic, and like a good friend of mine, I found myself wondering, What the hell is she laughing about? That’s just one of the reasons I went out and got this. It seems I am having a love/hate thing going for Australian YA. I have loved every single book that I have managed to get my hands on. But HATE the fact that it’s almost IMPOSSIBLE to find them over here.

I need more books just like this one.

Amelia is a fifteen year old in love with a 21 year old. I know it kind of, sort of sounds pervy, but if you think about it.. Dimitri and Rose were not that different age wise (If I remember correctly.) Ignoring that particular reference to VA, Good Oil is nothing like it. It is instead YA Contemporary the way I like it:

It’s a smoothly told story of how a fifteen year old pines over an almost 22 year old Chris. It is also interspersed journal entries from said guy. Honestly, without hearts in my eyes or anything? This is my kind of book… bitter and sweet all at once.

He calls her youngster. And she is that. You can tell by how she regards feminism. Anyway, I could very well be her. Well, I could very well have been her a couple of years ago. She’s so passionate about everything. What was it about her that had him thinking of her more towards the end of the book? He says, ‘She made him think.’ For me, it was that was she was honest - in a no holds barred fashion; telling it all.. at least until something related to him came up. BUT the thing is, she is young. She is Pip. Everything she complained about in Pip… those were her issues too, IMO. This was obvious to her as well.

And what pray tell does a fifteen year old see in a twenty plus year old guy? First, I love a guy who keeps a journal. It seems so... sensitive. SEEMS being the key word.. Because honestly (again) he is just too wrapped up in his own problems. That is until later, when he starts to see her in a different fashion.

As to that ending? THAT ending?! Well, I expect a great follow up.

Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,212 followers
November 30, 2012
I kind of loved this one!

This book reminded me of a mixture of CK Kelly Martin's contemporary reads with Lia Hills's "The Beginner's Guide to Living." This isn't a typical YA novel, in that it features a character who is 21-then-22 in the story along side the 15-then-16 year old. Both Chris and Amelia have fantastic and distinct voices.

Amelia takes a job at Coles, a local grocery store, and that's where she meets and falls for Chris, the much-older-than-her boy. They develop a relationship, but while she wants it to be more romantic, he wants it to be much more a friendship than a romance. Where Amelia struggles to understand those first feelings of love, Chris is much more experienced and wants instead to find companionship and solace because he's lost the true feelings of first love on a girl who used him. While they're struggling privately with these feelings, they share incredible conversations about life, growing up, feminism, literature, and much more. Getting these conversations from both sides -- the teen side and the not-so-teen side -- made them dynamic and thoughtful. They really provided great character development in a way that the story required.

What struck me as particularly good about this novel was that neither Amelia nor Chris are having any huge crises in their lives. Their struggles are really typical of their ages. But Buzo does a great job respecting their ages and their moments in time, which infuses their daily struggles with meaning. These aren't boring characters nor boring situations.

At times, both Chris and Amelia are irritating and selfish and needy. Using the dual perspective allows the readers to draw these conclusions, since neither character calls one another out on this. It was great that neither got to know the whole story behind the other, but the reader gets the opportunity to do that. It felt like being let in on secrets.

I really appreciated, too, how Buzo wasn't afraid to go there in this story. She pushes the envelope with drug use and with sex; these are real and honest parts of these characters' lives, and shying away from them would be a disservice to them and to the reader. I also found the Penny subplot strong and important to Amelia's development and growth.

Even though the characters don't have a true "resolution" at the end, I walked away completely satisfied. This book made me happy.

Also, this song is going to be permanently attached to this book for me: http://youtu.be/mxfjSnMN88U

Full review here: http://www.stackedbooks.org/2012/11/l...
Profile Image for Alexa.
351 reviews278 followers
March 7, 2011

My review can also be found on my blog Collections.

Good Oil is told from the perspective of 15-year-old Amelia Hayes. It's about her life. From school to her family and to her job at the local supermarket. But it's mostly about Chris Harvey, Amelia's 21-year-old co-worker. Chris is funny and friendly, and even though there's a six year age difference between them, he's the guy Amelia is in love with.

The story also includes diary entries written by Chris. There's more to him than just the funny, easy-going guy. He's not happy with his life at the moment. He doesn't particularly like his job at the supermarket. And he's living with his parents in his last year of uni and doesn't have a clue as to what he plans to do next.

I think we all can easily relate to Amelia. We've all had crushes on someone who seemed like the perfect person for us. But our feelings usually disappeared after we really got to know that person. Or maybe not. That's why I liked Amelia. She still liked Chris even with his flaws. Because, although I liked Chris's character, I'm not sure I could have continued to like Chris as more than a friend after finding out some of the personal things about him.

Like Amelia, Chris is a character I think some of us can relate to. A lot of teenagers and young adults get to a point in their lives where they're not sure which direction to go. Choices need to be made soon or time will continue to pass by with nothing ever being accomplished. I'm pretty happy with the decision Chris makes at the end. I think it was the right one.

As for Amelia and Chris's relationship, I admit I felt a bit lost during some of the conversations they had about certain literature because I'm not familiar with those books. But I liked their interaction. They got along well. They both were comfortable around each other and seemed to enjoy the discussions they shared with each other. I even forgot there was a six year age difference between them, and it just made me want them together even more.

Good Oil is a quick read, and the ending of the book doesn't give complete closure, but I'm satisfied with the way it ended. It's a coming-of-age story about two people who are in different stages of their life, and I would recommend it to those who aren't necessarily looking for a perfect resolution.
Profile Image for Tink Magoo is bad at reviews.
1,249 reviews194 followers
February 14, 2017
3.5 - 4 Stars, I can't make my mind up

This took me back to being an awkward, shy, slightly odd 15-year-old. When every little thing is a major event and the future doesn't exist past next week. I think a lot of people will relate to Amelia and Chris. While this doesn't show their lives past that one year, it gives an accurate portray that I really enjoyed.
Profile Image for Sky.
303 reviews15 followers
March 1, 2017
The Good Oil

3 Stars

This is the kind of book that you want to give 4 stars but can't because everything that bothered you hits you in full force, that you start to forget the fun you had whilst reading it.

The Good Oil follows two main characters throughout their journey in life. The first character, Amelia, is a 15 year old girl in high school who's at the time of her life where she starts to notice everything wrong with the world, she's angry, she's bitter, and she's so real. I remember when I was 15 I started seeing things for what they really are; I started noticing how teachers taught boys and girls as if they were different species with different educational needs, how they were never forgiving when a girl did low on an exam but were oh-so-sympathetic when a boy just walks out during an exam because he's "gonna fail anyway". I started noticing how I've never seen dads that cook (heard of them, but never actually witnessed it); I noticed how people from different races and backgrounds were treated differently; how violence and war and poverty exist; I started noticing a world outside of mine, and it wasn't pretty. This all went through my mind when reading through Amelia's chapters, “Oh adolescence, how much I don’t miss you.”.

Whereas the second main character, Chris, is a 21 year old college boy who still lives with his parents. Chris's chapters were written in diary entries that were extremely melodramatic that I couldn't help but roll my eyes while skimming through them. Most of my problems in this novel are because of my feelings towards Chris. I won't say exactly why I was bothered by him a lot, hence not spoil you, but I will give a few non-spoilery reasons; See, Amelia is in love with Chris, that may seem as bad, but really, it isn't; how many 15 year old girls you know love a 20+ year old? The answer is a lot. Chris never really saw Amelia that way, he liked her, he also liked the idea of someone like her (but older, of course) but he never really liked her-liked her. I sympathized with Chris, I understood why he feels how he feels, but his hypocritical acts lessened my sympathy a notch.

And don't you all just hate, hate, when you read a spoiler of a book within a different book. THE ONLY SPOILERS I NEED TO READ WITHIN A BOOK ARE FORESHADOWINGS! OKAY?

All in all, this was fun and easy. I usually recommend 3-Star reads, but I won't this time because of all the bloody spoilers within this book.
Profile Image for Julissa.
156 reviews39 followers
December 2, 2015
You know what I like about aussie books? They tell you the truth!

This is a picture to show you the awesome dedication of this book. :) I'm a collector!

3.5 stars

Two POVs. Two main characters, Amelia and Chris.
The amazing thing of this book is that each POV its is own story, has its own world and characters and both are very different. (something that some authors fail to accomplish while exchanging POVs).

Two stages in life.

You have Amelia. 15. Dreamer, idealist, innocent... 1st love problems.
And then you have Chris. 21. Also an idealist...Who feels stuck in a world where everyone else is moving on and has everything figure it out when he still doesn't know what to do next. 1st heartbreak problems.

And these two... they get to know each other, they develop a friendship where they talk about fictional characters, complain about each other's families and discuss feminism and social differences... Who' wouldn't fall for that? These two GET each other and... well... It's painfully beautiful. Like love, and life.

This book is not for the dreamers or hopeless romantics.
Some books you go to, to escape reality, to enter a world different form the one you're in, where better things happen, where your dreams come true and I don't know, stars and rainbows? hehe I love those books too. But this one is one you go to, to not feel alone, to get frustrated, to suffer a little, to hurt like the characters, and to grow :)
Profile Image for Trish Doller.
Author 10 books1,892 followers
September 30, 2013
What in the world do those Australians put in the water to make their writers so talented?! I read the Australian version, but it's coming out in December 2012 under the title Love and Other Perishable Items. Clever. You should read it.
Profile Image for Syndi.
2,905 reviews636 followers
August 17, 2017
this book is cute cute cute fifteen years old crush cute.

i can so relate to amelia awkwardness toward chris. i also can relate to chris heart break.
but i wish the story ends different.

the writting is superb. the author captures every aspect of fifteen years old crush right to the dot.
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