My book recommendation this week has been around for a while but for those of you who haven't checked it out (are there any of you left??) here's my review...
Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry #1)
by Simone Elkeles
amazon - paperback £4.12
Description (taken from Goodreads)
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.
I read Perfect Chemistry a while back and decided to re-read it after buying the second and third companion novels. I think I may have loved it even more the second time around.
Simone Elkeles writes real YA. Like Jennifer Echols, Jenny Downham and Tabitha Suzuma, Elkeles dives into the teen psyche and delivers a novel where teens talk, act, and think like real teens. And just to make her books gosh darn perfect she even gives them real problems too! There’s always a fear when reading a blurb like Perfect Chemistry that you’re going to lead your imagination into a bad racial divide novel that cheesifies very real and difficult issues. I am so happy to say that this is not the case.
Take the heroine, Brittany – she’s pretty, she’s blonde, she’s rich, she’s popular, she’s captain of the Pom Squad and she dates the hottest guy in school. But behind that glossy façade she has oh so carefully created, is a teenager that’s a carer (cleaning, changing, feeding and all) for her twenty year old sister, Shelley, who has Cerebral Palsy. On top of that she has a neurotic, OCD mother who suffered from a nervous breakdown a year ago, and a father who treats their home more like a hotel than anything else. Real teen with real issues – tick!
Take our hero, Alex – he’s yummy, he’s dangerous, he carries a Glock, rides a motorcycle and is a member of criminal gang, the Latino Bloods. But behind that terrifying persona he has oh so carefully crafted, is a teenager who loves his family, who would do anything to protect his family (after all he has been ‘man of the house’ since his father was shot dead in front of him at age six)… even joining a gang he hates… Alex is also intelligent, longs for respectability, is loyal and scared. The gang issues brought up are not glorified or brushed over or devoid of any tragedy. In fact the gang subplot provides a great dose of suspense to the overall story. Real teen with real issues – tick!
There is some curse words in Perfect Chemistry but I really feel the book would have been pretty silly if the gang members walked around minding their p’s and q’s all the time. I loved how the teenagers thought and acted like actual teenagers, even if that means the novel is more appropriate for older teen readers. I just don’t think the story would have worked nearly so well, or felt as authentic, if Elkeles had cleaned up the language etc. That’s not to say the language is overly graphic – in fact the author does a wonderful job of finding the perfect balance.
Outside of the hero and heroine’s individual problems, Perfect Chemistry is of course a love story. And boy is it a good one. The chemistry is sizzling, the romance well-developed and well-written, and the dialogue between Brittany and Alex absolutely fantastic.
Loved, Loved, Loved.
Five Massive, Massive Stars!