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Monday, July 26, 2010

Good Oil by Laura Buzo

Title: Good Oil
Author: Laura Buzo

Release Date: 1st August 2010

My Rating: 4/5

'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 starts working 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 six-year gap in their ages may as well be a hundred. Chris and Amelia talk about everything from Second Wave Feminism to Great Expectations and Alien, but will he ever look at her the way she wants him to? And if he does, will it be everything she hopes?

My Review:
Reminiscent of Melina Marchetta, Laura Buzo's debut novel is a funny, witty story about a girl who experiences her first major crush.

The witty banter between Chris and Amelia is entertaining and the story itself is a funny and realistic image of young love. Amelia's favourite subject at school is English and it is one of the underlying themes in Good Oil. She and Chris are always discussing classic stories that Amelia is studying and I love how Amelia often uses certain characters situations to tell Chris how she is feeling as it can be taken at face value but it also allows her to tell him how she feels if he chooses to read into it. I like this as it is something I know I have been guilty of doing.

The main focus of Good Oil is Amelia's fixation on Chris. I think that most teenage girls will be able to identify with Amelia over her feelings towards him. Buzo is spot on with Amelia's obsessive behaviour. For a 15-year-old girl who thinks she has fallen in love for the first time, all she wants is to be around him and tell everyone how wonderful he is. She counts down the moments until she gets to see him again. Unfortunately, this means she is a bit self-absorbed and doesn't really think to ask her best friend Penny what's happening in her life and then resents Penny because she doesn't know something or isn't part of something that Penny is doing.

Amelia is a great character. I love that she can be so naive in one area of her life but then so opinionated and wise beyond her years in others. This is one of the things that draws Chris to her and why I like her too because I like that a 15-year-old can have so many important and interesting thoughts amongst all the other teen angst. I especially love the rants and tangents she goes off on, particularly Amelia's issues with her parent's smoking and her thoughts concerning feminism, how she believes it has ruined her mum's life. Amelia's father frustrates me so much and I feel bad for her mum. To experience this would be quite foreign to me as my own parents have always equally shared the raising of my sister and I and the household duties.

The story is told in alternative points of view between Amelia and Chris. Amelia's part is told in first person and so is Chris's, but his is in diary format. It is interesting as, while the story is mainly Amelia's, we still get to find out what Chris is thinking and his reasons for acting the way he does. My only annoyance with this is that these perspectives are told in large chunks so after reading Chris' thoughts, I had to try and remember back to how Amelia perceived his actions.

Anyone who has ever worked in customer service will be able to relate to the first paragraph...

'I'm writing a play,' says Chris, leaning over the counter of my cash register. 'It's called Death of a Customer. Needless to say, it's set here.' He jerks his head towards the aisles lined with groceries and lit with harsh fluorescent bars.

...and the clich├ęd staff are also easily recognisable as the different character types I'm sure almost everyone has had the pleasure of working with at some point.

My favourite thing about the book is actually the ending. It's not a fairytale ending. I feel it is realistic. I think the most powerful part of Good Oil is that it is a story which teenage girls can relate to as it is based around a huge part of being a teenager: the first crush.

I recommend this for ages 14+ as it does have some adult content.


  1. Great review. This books sounds really good.

  2. Awesome review! I was thinking this looked good but thought it could be a bit too teen-angsty for me, so I'm glad you reviewed it :)

  3. Hey this sounds like a book for me! I love your reviews Jess :-) do you have a readers copy? any chance I could borrow it? xx

  4. argh! just noticed this. another book i have been lusting after. i really need this book. yours is the first review i've read - but i wanted it anyway based on it being australian, the cover and the blurb :)

  5. Is this out now in the U.S. I can't seem to find it anywhere.??

  6. hey, I loved the book and everything about it! :) but it just leaves you hanging at the end if you know what I mean. Do you think there will be a second book to it this year?

  7. I've read this book and i oved it the best book i've read in ages


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