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Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles ISBN 9780802720856

Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

cover art from Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles

This is the second installment of the Fuentes Family.  The second son, Carlos, is sent to his older brother Alex because he got into trouble in Mexico and the mother felt unable to get him in line.   No one asked Carlos why he got into in trouble, but if they had they would have learned that he fought with his factory foreman because the foreman was acting inappropriately with a young female factory worker.  Carlos seems to have a good heart but a hard appearance and people just think the worst of him.

Kiara is the female lead who has very few friends — Tuck seems to be her only friend.  Kiara likes to work on her classic car, likes to climb mountains, and sometimes works at her mom’s organic tea shop.  In the past, Kiara has had speech problems and has worked hard with her speech therapist to overcome these issues.

Carlos is framed for drug possession.  Since he had been living with his brother in student housing he was going to be sent back to Mexico unless he found a permanent home — he ended up at Kiara’s house because her father was a professor and good friend of Alex’s.

There are many similarities between this and “Perfect Chemistry” — the way the chapters flip from Kiara’s point of view to Carlos’ point of view.  Sometimes the chapter transition was so seamless that it was really easy to keep reading and not stop when I had originally planned on stopping.

I loved this book — basic good hearted rebel meets lovely shy girl and end up happily ever after but it is the journey that was interesting and well written.

from Amazon.com

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—In this sequel to Perfect Chemistry (Walker, 2009), Elkeles once again delivers a steamy page-turner bound to make teens swoon. After getting involved with a dangerous gang in Mexico, Carlos Fuentes is sent to live in Colorado with his older brother, Alex. Unwilling to straighten up and abide by Alex’s rules, he soon gets into trouble when he is framed for narcotics possession by a drug lord with powerful gang ties. Carlos avoids expulsion from high school by living with Alex’s former instructor, Professor Westford, and his family, and attending an after-school program for at-risk teens. Romance ensues when tough-talking, authority-flouting Carlos finds himself inexplicably drawn to Kiara, the professor’s studious, outdoorsy, and vintage-car-loving daughter. Unfortunately, love is complicated, because while Carlos wants to be with Kiara, he is also struggling to extricate himself from the grasp of the drug lord who framed him. After he is seriously beaten up, he, Alex, and Professor Westford concoct a plan to bring the drug lord to justice. As in Perfect Chemistry, the brothers’ dialogue is infused with plenty of Spanish, but it’s clear in context. The ending is somewhat contrived and rushed, and minor characters are not as well developed. However, the passion between Carlos and Kiara, who tell their story in alternating narratives, is compelling enough to engage teens, especially those who were taken with Alex and Brittany’s romance in the previous book.—Lalitha Nataraj, Chula Vista Public Library, CA
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC

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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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