Brandi's Reviews > Perfect Chemistry

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
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's review
Aug 29, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: 2009, favorites, teen, random-reads-column, lincoln-2011, librandian-blog

Brittany and Alex are complete opposites. Brittany is blonde, popular, and a cheerleader. Alex is ruggedly handsome, in a gang, and dangerous. Both hold their own form of power over the students of Fairfield High. Brittany’s popularity is the envy of many. Alex frightens everyone. Unbeknownst to each other, they both have something in common…a secret.

While Brittany may seem like she lives the perfect life, the truth couldn’t be more different. Brittany’s older sister Shelley is mentally challenged and requires constant care. Brittany’s parents would be happier if Shelley was locked away in a home somewhere, but Brittany won’t let them. Brittany only makes plans with her boyfriend and her other friends if it won’t interfere with Shelley and few of her friends even know the story behind Brittany’s sister.

Alex has everyone fooled into thinking he’s super tough and loves the life of a gangbanger. In reality, Alex is only in the gang to protect his family and wants nothing more than to graduate high school so, if he wanted to, he could go to college. Now his brother is showing interest in joining the gang as well and Alex is forced to do more dangerous things for the gang. All he really wants is out.

Brittany and Alex are paired together for a science project. The connection between the two is impossible to ignore, especially by Brittany’s boyfriend and Alex’s wanna-be girlfriend. Brittany and Alex begin to realize that there are others hiding behind stereotypes, protecting vulnerable secrets from the rest of the world.

In the similar vein of Romeo and Juliet and West Side Story, Simone Elkeles delivers an electric story about overlooking stereotypes and connecting with someone on an emotional level. Elkeles balances a predictable romance with danger and controversy to create the unpredictable account of two star-crossed teens. Written in alternate voices, Perfect Chemistry proves that opposites do attract.

I really didn't plan on enjoying this book. I don't really get into teen romances. However, as I read it I realized that I was getting sucked into the story. I didn't want to guess what was joining to happen next, I wanted to walk into every situation blindly, just like the characters. Simone Elkeles did a supreme job of presenting the characters in such a way that you didn't feel like you were observing the story, you were a part of it.
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Gail I could say almost the same thing--much better than I expected!

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