Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

“We’re actors in our lives, pretendin’ to be who we want people to think we are.” 

A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers.

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.

Personal Thoughts:

This is a modern, suburban version of the Romeo and Juliet story with a different ending. Set in two different environment of exactly different characters with the same hit and miss in life. Brittany Ellis is a description of perfect girl who works so much to support her perfect image. She’s rich, popular, blonde and beautiful. Alex Fuentes on the other hand, is a Latino gang member. He is poor, tough and dangerous.

They both living in am image they expertly constructed to meet the expectations of others. But behind all the facade lies the real personality longing to burst out and get accepted. Because Brittany is not as perfect as she appears to be. Her family life is anything but perfect, she has a sister who has special needs, her father is too busy with work that don’t even notice anyone at home and her mother is overprotective who is much concern with what others may think of her and their family. While Alex no matter how tough and dangerous he act is really caring and loving. He will do anything to protect his mother and two brothers even if it means losing his own life and dreams. He is also smart and undeniably good-looking.

A perfect girl whose home life is secretly not so perfect and a good guy stuck in a bad situation. So yeah I it is not surprising that I found the characters and the set-up a bit cliché but what is surprising is how much I enjoy reading this book and savour everything in one sitting. For someone like me who isn’t a fan of star-crossed lovers plot and predictable ending I am undoubtedly entertain by this book.

The story is pretty simple but there is something addicting in this book. The writing is well paced and straight to the point. The author doesn’t waste time on needless descriptions of useless settings or small talk. With lots of funny dialogues and a little mystery you will never get bored reading.

The alternating points of view of Alex and Brittany gives a better understanding of the their thoughts and feelings. They’re honest characters with conflicts that draw me in before I even realized it. The change of point of view isn’t distracting and the voices are easy to recognize. The inclusion of Spanish words spoken by the Latinos add more realistic touch to the characters and a great feel of the surroundings.

“Makin’ mistakes ain’t a crime, you know. What’s the use of having a reputation if you can’t ruin it every now and then?”

When Alex and Brittany try to be free from what others expect them to be, it is hard not to cheer for them. People expect them to behave in a certain way, to follow the usual path or category as if that’s all they can be. Brittany is expected to the perfect girl others perceive her to be, she must choose the best guy in school because that what is expected. While Alex is expected to drop out of school and be in the gang his whole life and deal with drugs. So when they try to take different path from what is expected they break the norm and they have to face the consequences.

Consequences worth taking because it is better to be who you are and have the courage to take in charge with your own life even if it means to be different. It doesn’t matter what other may think or what they want for you because at the end of the day you don’t own your life to anyone but yourself. You are the only one who can take you where you want to be. So embrace the courage and start fighting for your dreams and happiness.

I don’t know how Simone Elkeles did it, but she made a predictable story more enjoyable to read. With great amount of humour and well paced writing this book is pretty addicting. This book doesn’t aim to change the world or try to be too philosophical but it is surely an entertaining good read. A love story that touch some topics like racism, violence, poverty, acceptance and importance of being real.

4 thoughts on “Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

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