Good Oil, Laura Buzo (Allen & Unwin)
Amelia is 15 and has just got a job at Woolies, where she meets 21-year-old Chris and she is fairly instantly smitten. They click right away, spend their breaks discussing literature and philosophy and there are moments where Amelia thinks that maybe she is in with a chance. Buzo has perfectly captured the somewhat obsessive nature of teenage crushes, as Amelia analyses the smallest of exchanges and looks.
‘I am acutely aware of Chris’ movements at work. I see him approaching even when I’m studying a bag of beans to distinguish whether they’re broad beans or round beans. I know which girls he has talked to throughout the shift. I know when he’s preoccupied or playful by the way he moves. I know it all. Sometime I mutter his name under my breath like a madwoman.’ (p31-32)
After 90 pages of Amelia’s point of view, the reader becomes privy to Chris’ side of the story through diary entries (mostly drunken) and we realise that Chris is struggling with some love questions himself. Though it at times seemed a little didactic (or at least strangely over-explanatory) when Chris lectures Amelia on the history of feminism, it still was very interesting to have the topic broached.
I have a little niggle – when Chris is lambasting Amelia over the thing that happens at Bianca’s party I found myself laughing at what he was saying, and his manner, before realising a few pages later that he was actually supposed to be a serious exchange, and not a playful, hilarious one. I’d be interested to know if others read it the way it was intended, or if they had the same reaction as me.
Overall, Good Oil is a very enjoyable read for both girls and boys (though mostly girls) and is a great first novel.