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Monday, September 5, 2011
"Perfect Chemistry" by Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers
Age Group: Young Adult
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for—her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more. In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.
This book had been on my radar for a while, and I have been hearing so many great things about this series recently, so I finally managed to get my hands on a copy and dive right in. This was good stuff. So good. It starts out as your typical story, boy from the wrong side of the tracks and snobby rich girl, they get thrown together in school and can't stand each other. Of course they aren't your typical bad boy and rich girl and we get to come along while they figure each other out. I don't know much about gang life and honestly I think it would scare the crap out of me to be so close to it, but this book definitely makes you wonder about what's really going on inside of some of those gang members. Don't judge a book by it's cover is the perfect analogy for the characters in this book. And I'm not just talking about our main characters. Alex and Brittany's worlds are filled with people who end up surprising you. I really liked the fact that even though all of these kids started out as stereotypes, the author was able to show that not all teenagers are superficial and cruel. You can find a friend anywhere as long as you are willing to get to know a person. Can I just say that the couple of scenes, involving Gary Frankel at the school, had me laughing so hard. That was hilarious.
I don't know what it is about a bad boy, but Alex Fuentes had me from the start. He was so different from the way people assumed he was, but he worked so hard at being tough so no one would ever know it. I felt for him, because he was always trying to do best by his family, even though it didn't seem like they always appreciated it. Brittany's life made me really sad. She was popular, pretty and rich, but her life at home was so lonely. She perfected perfection so well that most of her friends didn't even really know her. I really liked that we were shown how devoted she was to her sister, so she never truly felt like the perfect, snobby, rich girl she tried so hard to pretend to be. And the tension between these two, WOW! That was some hot stuff. I'm sure the whole forbidden thing made it feel even hotter, but damn Ms. Elkeles can write some palpable sexual tension. *Pant,pant* Moving on...
I really liked the fact that this didn't have an easy, happy ending. Some serious stuff went down in this book and it was a rough journey to the end. When things are hard and the good stuff has to be earned it makes the story seem that much more real. I'm so excited that this is a series and I can read more of the Fuentes brothers. I waited so long to pick up this first one and now I don't want to put them down until I've read all three. Great story, romantic, sexy and realistic. Definitely recommended!