Perfect Chemistry (Book 1)
Author: Simone Elkeles (Website)
Release Date: 12/23/08
Publisher: Walker House
Age Group: Young Adult (14+)
Source: Borrowed (Public Library)Overall Feelings: A-class excellence! Terrific!
"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." (Goodreads)
Plot & Ending: I'm happy to report that Perfect Chemistry was another nearly perfect read. Geez, where to start on this one...
I know! Brittany Ellis and Alejandro Fuentes are far from perfect, far from being opposites though it would seem like they would be looking at the surface. Brittany comes from the Northern side of Fairfield, where the rich and upper-class society members reside. Alejandro comes from the opposite...Not to mention that he's in a gang, the Latino Bloods.
You'd think two people from two totally different worlds would never work out as far as a relationship, even as far as a friendship, goes. But, these two soon come to find that there's a lot they're unaware of beneath the surface, that rumors and labels and racial differences and upbringing don't always factor in when it comes to identity. Each are good at putting up a facade, perhaps that's why they're perfect for each other...
Watching these two grow and face their problems with society and school and their parents and so on, really spoke to me. I was amazed by the two of them, overcoming these obstacles and hurdles for the sake of each other and to reclaim their identities. Learning about their friends, their everyday lives made me rethink some of the stereotypes I carried around inside of my head. When I thought rich girl, I thought excessive shopping for the hell of it and worrying over chipping a nail. With gang boy, I thought drugs and alcohol and jail time. I realized how very wrong I was to think that. It was an experience, learning a lesson, developing with the characters.
Emotions slammed into me from unexpected places in this novel. Two parents' neglect of both their daughters, the state of the second daughter, the home life of a bad boy involved in unforgivable, unrelenting circumstances, the death of a best friend. I was taken on an emotional roller-coaster on full speed without a seat belt.
I was all smiles by the end. The closing of the last chapter and the epilogue pushed tears into my eyes, bright smiling, and giggles. I loved it. I loved this book. Check it out; it's called Perfect Chemistry for a reason.
Characters: Both Alejandro's and Brittany's characters have deep longings and deep-seated, pent up anger, resentment, bitterness, coldness, fear. All emotions that make them into unforgettable, real characters. Beneath the illusion, the facade each hold in place, they are remarkable people. One is soft, loving, attentive, and the other passionate, charming, and caring. I was moved by their characters, their relationship, their love. I appreciated the friends from both sides, also. Sierra, Doug, Isa, and Paco go out of their way for the couple, especially Paco, who tries his hardest to watch out, to take care of his best friend. How much Alejandro means to him is touching. I'd call all of these guys 3-D characters, ones I enjoyed learning about.
Cover: I adore the simplicity of this cover. The all black background, the bold whiteness of the title, and then the two lovebirds intent on each other, oblivious of the rest of the world's presence. You can easily see how vast the gap is between the two and imagine how hard each push to close it. As it turns out, it doesn't take much, at least for themselves, but when it comes to everyone else like parents, friends, neighbors, whatever, that's where it gets difficult.
Again, I'm ticked off that I don't own this one, that I borrowed this from the library. But, sadly, funds are incredibly low right now so there's nothing I can do about that. Ah, well, I'm thankful I got to read Perfect Chemistry. Now, I'm encouraging you to go out and do the same: read it!