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Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles ISBN 9780802798237

cover art from Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles
cover art from Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

This book is literally a page-turner and I couldn’t put it down and so it was 4AM when I finally went to bed that night. I know I could have figured out what happened and could have forced myself to go to bed at a reasonable time however it was just a perfect storm of what will happen next that I preferred to stay up almost all night as opposed to wait.

Alex’s father died in a gang shooting and he is the “man” of the household. To protect his family he has also joined the same Mexican based gang that his father was in and so does what he can (no drugs and no killing — he is a collector). He is the infamous “bad boy”, but he may be the first in his family to finish high school.

Brittany is picture perfect. She has all the right clothes, she has the right boy friend, she has the right drive to go to college — this is what she lets people see. What she is hiding is an absentee father, a mother on the brink of a nervous break down and a sister who has cerebral palsy. She may have the perfect home but no one sees her home for she has no visitors.

This is the ultimate Romea & Juliet story — two worlds collide in Chemistry class. Well actually they almost collide in the parking lot when Brittany tries to park her brand new BMW in the parking spot that Alex’s motorcycle already resides. She has a hard time finding reverse in her new car and later that day — Alex offers driving lessons. His friends tease him about his chemistry partner and he starts a bet that by Thanksgiving he can get into her pants. By Thanksgiving he has decided that he actually likes her and wants to treat her better than that, but all he** breaks loose and they learn what true friendship needs to grow.

 

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—Told in alternating narratives, Perfect Chemistry portrays a romance between two unlikely lab partners. Brittany is her Chicago high school’s “golden girl” but few of her friends know that her parents are totally dysfunctional and that she is highly invested in caring for her physically and mentally disabled older sister. Alex is a member of the Latino Blood, but he wishes he could leave gang life and pursue a college career. The plot thickens as Alex accepts a bet from a friend that he cannot bed Brittany by Thanksgiving. Smoldering doesn’t quite do justice to the romantic banter that sparks between them. As the story unfolds, Alex is incarcerated and later hospitalized. Raw language and Spanish phrases that Anglo readers might feel obligated to investigate further are peppered throughout. The pace picks up too quickly at the end, leaving readers wondering if they missed something as time that has previously been marked day by day begins to clip along in five-month increments. Overall though, this is a solid romance that’s suitable for reluctant readers.—Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL
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