‘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.
It takes me a moment to place the reference, but then I remember Death of a Salesman from when Dad took me to see the play last year.
‘Want to be in it?’
I nod eagerly.
‘Cool. We’re going to the pub after work to workshop it. You should come.’
Chris calls Woolies ‘The Land of Dreams’ and when 15 year old Amelia starts working there, she is happy to agree. Chris, trainer and fellow check out operator is her dream man. There’s only one problem. Or maybe two. He’s six years older than her and she can’t decide whether he thinks about her in ‘that way’ at all or whether she’s just a mate he likes to talk to. They get along so well, it’s not long before she’s developed a crush the size of China. Amelia could talk to her sister but she’s at university in the country. Her mother seems too weighed down by life in general and she hardly talks to her father at all. She does talk to her friend, Penny but Penny has no answers for her.
First love can be very painful particularly when it’s seems almost impossible. Amelia is a very real character. She’s got great insights and strong opinion on some things, but she doesn’t fit with the cool kids. Not that she really wants to, but she’d like a slice of their pie. She’d like the confidence to take what she’d really like. The title Good Oil comes from a promise Chris makes her when she starts work. He’ll give her the ‘good oil’, tell her what’s what. Only he has challenges of his own that he hides beneath his cheery exterior. The first half of Good Oil is first person in Amelia’s voice, but the second half alternates between Chris’ diaries, letters and Amelia’s first person narrative. Different fonts are used to avoid confusion. Good Oil is a realistic novel about the pain of unrequited love. Recommended for mid-secondary readers and beyond.
Good Oil, Laura Buzo
Allen & Unwin 2010
review by Claire Saxby, Children’s Author
This book can be purchased in good bookstores or online from Fishpond.