Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
I originally read this book because one of our students had asked me to order it, and kept coming back once a week to see if it was here yet! She was right; it is a wonderful love story, sort of like Romeo and Juliet but with a much more satisfying ending. Brittany Ellis is a beautiful cheerleader who looks like she has the perfect life. Alex Fuentes is a gang banger who can intimidate anyone with one of his dark, piercing looks. They both look like perfect stereotypes, but in this case looks can be very deceiving. When they are forced to be chemistry lab partners by the dictatorial Mrs. Peterson, each teen must face their own prejudices, while dealing with their own personal problems at the same time. The truth is that Brittany’s perfectionist mom is making her crazy, especially when she threatens to send her disabled sister to an institution. And Alex who saw his dad murdered when he was just six, is only a member of the Latino Bloods gang to protect his family.
After accepting a bet to bed Brittany by Thanksgiving, Alex does his best to seduce his lab partner, but finds himself falling for her despite his common sense. This book is definitely filled with plot twists, and what I liked about it is that it’s way more than a love story. It also deals with the facades people all put up to protect themselves from getting hurt. The gang activity feels pretty realistic, without glorifying the street life like some urban drama does. I also appreciated that the story tackled the difficult subject of honesty in a friendship, when it’s all you can do to be honest with yourself.
Don’t be fooled the the romantic cover of this book; it’s way more that a simple romance. Simone Elkeles did a great job blending tough teen issues with a love story, and I can’t wait to read more of her books.