My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I really really enjoyed this book. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it down for anything, which lately is rare for me, but I think that this has a very specific audience. It's absolutely YA even though there are a couple "fucks" thrown around and a lot of talk about sex.
'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 share with you what I know. Right? And just so you know, I'm open to all kinds of bribery.'
And that up there is right about where I too, was hooked on Chris. Amelia Hayes is an almost 16 year old girl living in Australia. Her life consists of her friend Penny, school, and her family which includes her depressed and over-worked, over-tired mom, her dad she barely tolerates and her little sister. So she gets a job and meets Chris. The majority of the book revolves around her time at Coles (which is a grocery store) the characters she meets there and how she relates ... or doesn't relate to them and why.
Chris is funny, charismatic, charming and everyone loves him. He's easy to be around and the dialogue between the two was probably my favorite part to this book. Most of it was light and funny, but there were definite sad reveals as well as some deep thoughts discussed. Here's the catch though... Chris is almost 22. He's a Uni student almost graduated and struggling to find what he's supposed to do now. He's at that point in life where all you want to do is linger in the land of very little responsibility and go out drinking all the time and get laid, but he also realizes it's time to grow up and get a real job and move out.
I really enjoyed the different perspectives from the book, told in alternating points of view from both Amelia and Chris, we experience it all. Amelia through narration shares with us moments of first, unrequited love, the angst of being a teenager and thinking you don't fit in anywhere. From Chris's perspective we get the story via his diary. His side is a bit more risque in that it focuses on his chasing of the idea of a perfect girl, his broken heart, lots of drinking, some sex and a bit of drug use. There is overlap but seeing it from the two different perspectives makes it work and I wasn't bored.
I think at one point I said I wasn't sure if I liked him or not, and mostly because I was reading from his perspective after having just seen the extent of her feelings for him, and her not even being a blip on his radar. I truly loved him by the end and it makes total sense to me why she fell for him. Don't get me wrong, my heart broke at one point and I wanted to throw things... at him. But honestly, I just really felt that Chris as a character was brighter if that makes sense. I wanted to know him, I wanted to sit down and have a talk about books and feminism and things we hate over pizza.
It's a coming of age story, but for two different people in two different points in their lives. They connect and see the potential, but where they are in their lives... well, I'll let you read about that.
I thought the end of the book was brilliantly written and thinking about it all night, I realize there wasn't much else in the way of it ending in a realistic way that I as a reader would have bought. I loved it.
So - are you looking for teenage angst, friendship, love, family issues and a charming boy? Then this might be the book for you.