Author: Laura Buzo
Publication Date: 8/1/10
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Blurb (GR): 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?
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.