Author: Simone Elkeles
Publish date: 2008
Source: Purchased (and signed!)
"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." (from Goodreads)
Last Tuesday, I attended the Smart Chicks Kick It tour at Schuler's Books & Music in Lansing, MI. I purchased and got books signed by Simone Elkeles, Melissa de la Cruz, and Carrie Ryan. Simone and the rest of the ladies were HILARIOUS and I honestly decided to read Perfect Chemistry first (before the other signed ones) because she was so funny and honest. I am so glad I did because I LOVED the book!
Perfect Chemistry is labeled as kind of a steamy YA, and while, yes, it was that, it was so much more. I really liked the characters and could easily picture them in my head. For the first three quarters of the book, I thought the dialogue and plot were excellent, although they did seem to taper off a bit by the end, almost like the author was in a rush to finish the novel, but that didn't lessen my enjoyment. For the majority of the book, though, I enjoyed Elkeles's writing style. The chapters alternated in narration by Alex and Brittany, which I liked. It's nice for readers to get a glimpse into both of the main characters' heads.
After reading this, I've kind of realized that I'm a sucker for the bad boy/good girl stories. It makes me feel like a teenager again, but I can't help but like them! Of course, we learn throughout the story that Alex is a good guy with this bad guy/gang persona, but it's the still the whole "boy from the wrong side of the tracks" story (and we know they're going to end up together but HOW?). I'm definitely going to recommend this to my students, especially after we read Romeo and Juliet in my 9th grade class. Lots of similarities and since most of the kids enjoy R&J, it won't be hard to convince them to read Perfect Chemistry, especially since it's a modern and believable setting (with you know, Alex Fuentes). I'm looking forward to the sequels to see what else happens with the Fuentes brothers!