Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Good Oil by Laura Buzo

‘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 six-year difference in their ages may as well be 100.
Chris and Amelia talk about everything from ‘Second Wave Feminism’ toGreat 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?
A coming-of-age story that is warm, funny and a little bit heartbreaking. 

This bittersweet story of first love and second thoughts will capture your heart and make you laugh.

I really wanted to read this book for a few reasons:

  • The cover! It's fun and fresh and flirty
  • I got hooked on Amelia, 15yrs, crushing on Chris from work, 21. Okay, so sometimes it doesn't take much to hook me :)
  • Woolies is a setting! Well, cool. Who doesn't go to Woolies all the time? I love the simplicity of it and memories of my own check-out chick days (which were in a slightly daggier $2 shop setting)
  • It's an Aussie debut! yay!

My thoughts: 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.

(Also has some mature themes with Chris's older POV, perfect for older teens)

publishers site (Allen and Unwin)


  1. OOo sounds awesome.
    I adore the word bittersweet.

  2. oh, yeah, i love the word bittersweet too - and the feeling it evokes :)

  3. wow. i can't believe it's a book set in woolies, that is going to be so cool to read.

  4. Hey, I worked at Woolies when I was fifteen! (although no cute boys, unfortunately). I'll have to check this one out, sounds great :)

  5. I didn't know this was an Aussie book! I guess Woolies was a big giveaway, ay?

    Added to my wishlist. :) Thanks for the review. It's so detailed; it really feels like you covered every aspect of the book, without any spoilers! ♥

  6. I really love reading your reviews, you put so much of yourself in them.

    So they still have Woolworth's down under huh? I spent some great times at the Woolworth when I was a kid, but they long since disappeared.

    Definitely sounds like a lovely story. Thanks.

  7. I've read this book and your right, its so awesome. I also picked it up becuase it said woolies:D Immediate connection, and I loved how quirky both Amelia and Chris were. I just hope, hope she writes a sequl. Great review

  8. Ohh this sounds so, so good but I just looked it up on Amazon and of course it's not available here:( Hopefully it will do really well and get released here too because I absolutely love quiet novels and obviously HUGE MM fan and fan of Tom too, so it's must read. Thanks for the review

  9. @ Anna - well, yeah, they work at woolies and theres a few other settings: school, parties they go to and their own homes :)

    @ Vee - shame about no cute boys ;)

    @ Cass - sometimes when I love a book I cant help but start giving detailed reviews :)

    @ Jan - that is such a lovely comment. thank you so much - you're so nice :) Made me feel good :)

    @ Monique - oooh - so great to see more people have read it :) And loved it and want a sequel too! Thanks for the lovely comment :)

    @ Alexa - sorry, sorry, i keep reviewing these awesome Aussie titles...


  10. Sounds great, but another Aussie one I can't get here!

    I was a checkout chick at Big W, I was inspired to get a job there by a Sweet Dreams book where a girl found love at the checkouts. Sadly that did not happen to me!

  11. That's a lovely review. We no longer have Woolies here in the UK (they went bust) but it appeals to me as a setting too, in the same way the store in The Sky Always Hears Me And The Hills Don't Mind does. I'm always up for finding new Aussie titles to check out, and the way you've described this one has me pretty convinced it's one I'd love, so thank you. :)

  12. @ Kristy - LOL @ being inspired by Sweet Dreams!

    @ Laureen - oh, yeah - i loved the store in the sky always hears me and the hills dont mind too - i was hooked right from the start with that book - another one of my fave reads this year! Poor UK woolies... :) Good Oil is such a fantastic book - i hope it gets released internationally!

  13. I finally got around to reading this (loved it so much, finished in about 4 hours!) and now I want to know about a SEQUEL.
    Please. Tell me there is more. It can't end like that!


Thanks for the commenty love :)