Title: Good Oil
Author Laura Buzo
First Published: August 2010 by Allen & Unwin
Having loved Laura Buzo's new book Holier Than Thou I decided to read her other book Good Oil. I've always seen Good Oil in libraries and bookshop and the cover and title caught my eye, but i never liked the sound of the plot, i thought Amelia would be a silly, whiny, bimbo who has no thoughts except about some jerky guy. Well, i am pleased to say this is not the case.
Amelia is an angsty, clever 15 year old who's just got a part time job at her local Woolworths, which her charming 22-year-old co-worker calls the land of dreams. From her first shift with Chris she's sunk, can't get him out of her head. And how could she? he's clever, cute, he listens to her like she's an adult, they discuss everything from school, to parents, to feminism.
Chris is almost 22, single, still living at home and about to finish a degree in sociology with no job prospects other than the beloved Land of Dreams. His friends are buying houses, starting careers and getting engaged. He is searching for the perfect woman, and the perfect candidate has abandoned him and moved back to Perth.
A lovely, realistic story more about friendship, family, and growing up than love. Don't worry, this is not the stereotypical story of a girl falling for an older boy and whinging about how she can't have him for 200 pages. it's a sweet, slightly quirky book which was actually very intelligent.
Oh, and you'll just love Amelia.
“She even takes the goings-on of fictitious characters personally.”
My favourite thing about this book was Amelia. I just LOVED her, she was so frank and clever. In fact, she reminded me of myself a little, i think we'd get on well. She's constantly reading, thinking and turning things over in her mind. I never quite new what was going to come out of her mouth next. She was just such a gutsy character. I found it really true to life how she could be so clever and confident, and yet so self-doubting at the same time, sure in some areas, completely lost in others.
I can also see why she liked Chris so much, he was positively charming, and Buzo captured him perfectly from both points of view. I know EXACTLY what was meant about his smile each time it was described.
The story being told from both Amelia and Chris' point of view was a surprise, but it worked really well, it added the extra depth which really makes his novel shine. I liked how similar the characters seemed from both point of views, they saw their co-workers in a similar way. This also applies the the protagonists, I'd have hated if Chris or Amelia weren't as awesome from the other's point of view. once i realised it was multi-POV i had one major concern, and that was that Buzo would make Chris hate Amelia, it would be a completely one-sided relationship, all in Amelia's head. I was relieved to find he really liked her. it would have ruined the story if he found her a pain. Because it became a story about friendship, between the two of them, and other characters like Amelia and her mother, Amelia and Penny, and Chris and his sister.
i also enjoyed all the literary allusions, especially when i had read the texts they were talking about, which wasn't too often. instead of seeming like the author or characters were showing off, they really added to the book. In fact, it's a great advertisement for teenagers to read classics, much better than adults going 'it's better than that junk you read'. BUT, would someone please explain to me why Amelia ans Chris said Gatsby killed himself? did i miss something when i was reading that chapter of Good Oil?
The ending was realistic, and while not opened ended in the way Holier Than Thou is, still was left rather open. I was expecting a more dramatic ending, the book seemed to be building, but the ending did work well, and it has grown on me. I'm now glad Buzo ended it the way she did.
All, in All a gorgeous book, rich with detail and typical Australian and teenagey things. i Loved reading it.
in Nomes from Ink chrush's review she said
"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."
this is the Perfect summary. Like other Australian YA, Markus Zusak, Melina Marchetta, Randa Abdel-Fattah, Bill Condon etc, the book seems to bleed truth and emotion, but in this case in a quiet, gentle way.