Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
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.
Perfect Chemistry was a steamy and intense read that made me wonder- why have I waited so long to pick this up?! After hearing so many people raving about this novel, I finally decided to pick it up one rainy day and couldn't put it down. From the beautiful romance, fantastic characters, and excellent writing, Simone Elkeles is one amazing author. I loved that the book was written in alternating chapters, that way I could get into the heads of both of our main characters, Alex and Brittany, and understand them even better.
The novel opens before Alex or Brittany have even really met and readers get to know their family and friends a little first. Both characters are ones you might expect to hate- Alex, the bad boy gang banger from the wrong side of town, and Brittany, the beautiful, blonde cheerleader with the football boyfriend. But this is just what they are on the outside and at school; hiding their secrets from everyone around them and keeping their family life hidden from the world. Brittany is not as perfect as she looks- her family is falling apart, mainly because of how much pressure her mother puts on Brittany to not make any mistakes and because of Brittany's older sister, Shelley, suffering from cerebral palsy. Brittany's relationship with her sister was beautiful. She would do anything to protect her sister and make her smile.
On the other hand, Alex is dealing with the fact that he has been the man of the house since his father was murdered years earlier, and he is now trying to keep his brothers and mother safe from the Latino Bloods- the local gang he is a part of. But Alex is really a kind and tragic character, dedicated to protecting those he loves and living each day the best he can.
Watching Alex and Brittany get to know each other after being assigned as chemistry partners was my favorite aspect of the story. Their relationship was slow growing and readers got to watch as they fought feelings for one another and realized that they were actually falling in love. From that first sizzling kiss everything changed for the pair.
My heart went out to Alex and Brittany because so many prejudices surrounded them from all sides. Who would expect the local bad boy and most popular, good girl in school to become a couple? Criticism and hate surrounds them but they truly start to break the barrier and prove that just because someone is from the "wrong" side of the tracks doesn't mean they can't succeed in life and love whoever they want. Simone Elkeles made this a romance that will have readers rooting for the two main characters and furiously flipping through the pages, dying to know how things will turn out for the star crossed lovers. They have their ups and downs and there are a lot of intense moments that left me gripping the pages.
There were a lot of funny moments and I liked when the characters tossed in Spanish phrases as well. It made things all the more realistic. Perfect Chemistry was just an overall fabulous example of how gripping and amazing contemporary YA fiction can be. I fell in love with the characters and was left mesmerized by the story. I am anxious to pick up the sequel, Rules of Attraction, as soon as possible and get to know Alex's younger brother. I know I'm in the minority of people who waited so long to read this, but if you're like me, and still have it on your TBR list, I suggest picking it up as soon as you can! And one final note, the epilogue may seem cheesy to some, but I loved it- it was satisfying and made me smile!
Overall: 5 out of 5 stars
January 1, 2008/Walker BFYR/360 Pages/Young Adult/Book One
Source: Bought (Paperback)
Other books in the series: Rules of Attraction and Chain Reaction