Love and Other Perishable Items

Love and Other Perishable Items - Laura Buzo This book is about two things: a teenage crush and becoming a “grown-up.” Unfortunately, these subjects are never distant from clichés and they are often presented in a shallow, stereotypical way. In Love and Other Perishable Items, however, Buzo writes about these two universal experiences with exceptional depth and feeling. Buzo somehow manages to weave together two disparate realms of experience: the high school feeling when you suddenly become giddily aware of the complexity of the world around you, making you feel more “adult,” as evinced in Amelia, our 15 year old protagonist, and the early 20s feeling of uncertainty as you become an unequivocal adult with legitimate responsibilities, a period captured through the struggles of Chris, a college senior who serves as the second POV character in this novel. So whether you’re on the younger or older side of Young Adult, there are ideas here for any reader to attach onto, ideas that will recall the reader’s own personal experience. As a result, both characters, though deeply flawed, are loveable, because it is difficult not to project our own tribulations of adolescence and early adulthood upon them. To me, this personability of the characters, this ability to see ourselves in them, is one of the novel’s greatest strengths.An equally strong point is the novel’s focus on social justice. I read that author Laura Buzo works as a social worker in addition to writing, and her career experience clearly shines through the novel. I was enraptured by Chris and Amelia’s intelligent (but never pretentious!) discussions about the role of feminism in the 21st century, the unsatisfying conclusions to classic novels such as The Great Gatsby and Great Expectations, and the failure to recognize conditions of poverty in our own backyards. At its core, Love and Other Perishable Items is a book about romance, but it is much more smart and thoughtful than typical romantic fare yet it manages to maintain a (mostly) lighthearted tone. It’s totally approachable for all readers; some will adore the love story, others will enjoy the realistic depiction of these distinctly tumultuous life stages, and others will appreciate the sociological criticism within these pages. Of course, I loved Love and Perishable Items for all of these reasons, as I expect most readers will. Highly recommended for anyone desiring a bit of young adult nostalgia in the form of a book that is both melancholy and hopeful.