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2010 RITA Winner for Best Young Adult Romance
Gr 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
Like everyone in the world, I remember adolescence clearly -- and mostly with horror. It’s not the moments of humiliation that haunt me in the middle of the night, but piercing memories of mistakes I made: errors in judgment, ethical missteps, selfish unkindness. I could have been a case study for research proving that adolescent brain development (or the lack thereof) leads to reckless, foolish decisions. So when I decided to read all the 2009 finalist entries in the Young Adult (YA) category for the RITA, romance’s most prestigious prize, I was curious about how realistic they would be. Would these six heroines engage in anything that I -- or at least my memories of myself -- would recognize?
They do. In fact, all of these novels do a brilliant job depicting a young adult’s scrambled thinking and -- even better -- the first sign of the maturity that scientists promise will eventually occur. Here, the road to love is littered with risk-taking behavior.
Simone Elkeles’s Perfect Chemistry, for example, is the story of a striving-to-be-perfect white girl named Brittany, who finds herself paired with Alejandro Fuentes in chemistry class. If Brittany is perfect, from her glossy lips to her glossy toenails, Alejandro is her opposite: a Mexican gang member who’s both desperate and violent. They are both caught in situations that are not their faults -- but the way they flounder into various debacles will have you wincing. Still, the sweetness of watching this Romeo and Juliet make some tough (good) decisions, and grow up in the process, is truly inspirational.
If you happen to be a young adult yourself, or you know a young lady who might be interested, you can’t do better than buy these books. As the mother of a tween, I know how hard it can be to find YA books that appeal to a young girl and don’t horrify the woman with a credit card in hand. Far too many books aimed at this age group are little more than candy floss tales of conspicuous consumption. These novels will satisfy both of you.
Posted June 18, 2009
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This book was soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo good. It's officially my favorite book && in my opinion, the best book ever written. For someone obsessed with Twilight, I never thought there'd ever be a book better than it...BUT THERE IS!!!! this book made me laugh, cry, and swoon for alex. i yelled at the characters when they did something stupid, just like i would yell at the tv. I visualized everything that was happening and I can rarely do that. Although im mad that in that Perfect Chemistry video on this site, the guy playing alex is ugly as you know what. but anyway, i highly recommend this book. its amazing. it makes me want to move to illinois so i can find me an alejandro fuentes. soooooo, i think twilight obsessers should read this book because once you do, you won't be obsessed with twilight anymore because this beats that...bar none.
96 out of 108 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I read all the time, and I've read more than half of the teen books on the shelf at Barnes and Noble. But out of all of the books I've read, this is definitely one of my all-time favorites. I love how real the story seems. You can picture almost picture Alex's cocky grin, and see Brittany fall for him. This book may have a typical happily ever after ending, but from the way Simone Elkeles goes about it you realize it's one of a kind. This story is so intense from the gang warfare to the school projects. I've read it twice, and i still can't put it down.
61 out of 66 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Prefect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles, explains the lives of two very different people living in the north and south side of Chicago. The main two protagonists are Alex Fuentes and Brittany Elias. Alex is a Hispanic boy associated with a gang called the Latino Blood. He is very fit and very protective of his family. Brittany Elias is your typical rich American girl. She’s the most popular girl in school, captain of the cheerleading squad, and her boyfriend is the star quarterback. Alex and Brittany first meet on the first day of senior year. Brittany almost crashed into Alex’s motorcycle in the parking lot which causes a little argument between them. Their first encounter doesn’t go well, but they’re in for a surprise. They have just found out they will have each other in the same chemistry class, and to top it off they’re partners. Alex and his new partner can’t seem to work right. They argue over every little thing and can’t seem to agree on something simple, such as where to work on their project. As time goes by, they get closer and feel comfortable with each other. They have now realize they both have secrets, secrets that can be dangerous if anyone where to hear about them. Brittany has always portrayed herself to be the “perfect” girl and Alex has always acted as a tough guy, but are these two characters really what they say to be? Brittany’s life at home is horrible. Her dad is almost always away on business and unable to help emotionally at home. Her mom is under a lot of pressure because her oldest daughter has a mental disorder and worries that one day her friends will discover she has been lying about her “perfect life.” Alex has to seem tough so no one messes with his family seeing how his father was killed when he was six, and now has that responsibility. He knows it’s hard for his mother to support three kids on minimum wage, so he’s decided to make something out of his life. Not caring about the world and their inner conflicts, Brittany and Alex decide to begin a relationship. Once publicly displayed, trouble is not far behind. Brittany’s parents highly disagree of such romance, and Alex has now gotten himself into some trouble with the leader of the Latino Blood and he can’t seem to get out of. When asked to do a special job, will Alex listen to the promise he made Brittany or do the job to learn information about his father’s murder? I would extremely recommend this book not only to girls who love high school romance, but to guys as well. I say this because I myself am I guy and I have to confess I did enjoy reading this book. This was the first book I’ve ever read that’s been written in alternative-first person point of view and had me flipping pages almost every minute. At some points I would chuckle. This author really captured the protagonist’s feelings and made them sound like believable characters. Seeing how I took pleasure in reading Perfect Chemistry, I wouldn’t mind reading other books with a similar plot or by Simone Elkeles. When using flashbacks, Elkeles descriptions are very detailed. When reading these parts of the book I felt myself right in the middle of the action. I don’t regret reading this book and I trust neither will you. If you have already read this book I suggest you read to following ones: Rules of Attraction and Chain Reaction.
50 out of 55 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 30, 2009
Alex Fuentes and Brittany Ellis are complete opposites. But in this book, opposites really do attract. Sparks fly between the two and I can definitely say that this has been one of the best books I've read in a VERY long time. I would recommend this to anyone who truly loves a good romance book.
45 out of 49 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I was stick and tried of reading traditional love story's so when i found this book on the shelf i immediately bought it. It was different then a twilight or a Sarah Dessen book (which are very popular for teen theses days). It was edgy. This book had enough twist to keep you always needed to turn that next page to find out what is going to happen. This is a great summer reading book. You will want to read it again and again until you have every word memorized..... and for the record i loved the epilogue. I thought it was defiantly and very cute way to end this book.
27 out of 27 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I have no clue how you cant LOVE this book. It has such a good twist to it. Ok when Alex Fuentes has all his problems, his gang and yet he somehow finds the time to devote to Brittany Ellis. The highschool hottie. And When they get together, your heart just melts. The way he Talks to her, and treats her. If you havent read this book. Buy it, right now.
24 out of 26 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 29, 2009
this is the bestttttttt book ever! Im in love with all the characters in the book. Especially alex. Makes me wish he is a real person in my life. Recommend this book to EVERYONE. well besides kids younger than 12.
18 out of 22 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
I really wanted to love this book but as a Latina this book made me mad at all the stereotypic descriptions. First of all all those Spanish words that he would use with her were annoying. As a woman who dated Latinos and some gang members I know they would never use the word mamacita and if they did use it I would have been turned off by it. Mamacita is a word a man uses when hes trying to get a girls attention as she walks by. It mostly used by the men that stand on the corner. Anyhow the love story itself was great and I even found myself crying at the end. I just wish there could be a book about a Latino that is not poor, not gang member, does not have big family, knows how to speack correctly, and does not use Spanish words mid way through a sentence.
17 out of 30 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 5, 2009
This book i think is the best book ever written. When you get to the end of a chapter u just want to keep on reading until you finish reading the whole thing.This is a can't put down book. I'm sure if u read it you would LOVE it as much as i did. And if your a girl like i am it would make you want to search for love and hopefully find it.
14 out of 16 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted July 3, 2010
This book was awesome.!! I went in to barnes and noble to find somethin to read in my spare time and just happened to come across this book. I read the back and became totally into it. I read the first page and I just had to keep going. I went home immediately to read. I read from 1pm to 11pm. and I finished the WHOLE book. :) I just could not bring myself to stop. Now I just can't stop thinking about the story and the characters. I am going to buy Rules of Attraction as soon as I get the chance. This is the first Simone E book I've ever read and believe me she is now one of my favs.
11 out of 11 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 23, 2009
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This Book Was So Amazingg I Love Alex And Its Just A typical Love Story And I Love It.Im Gald I Got This Book Its Was Just Sooo Good I couldnt Put It Down And I Got My Friend To Read It And Now She Won't Give It Back!!!!.I Recommened This Book To Teens 14-18.One Of My Favorite Books EVER!!!!
11 out of 14 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted April 7, 2012
My niece was reading this book and asked me what I thought of it. I read it last year and was so incensed at how horrible it was, this review (which has undergone several revisions from the original pissed-off rant) has been sitting in My Documents until now when the discussion of Perfect Chemistry came up again. I somehow managed to survive this EPIC RACEFAIL/GENDERFAIL of a book. Seriously, I wondered if author Simone Elkeles ever met a stereotype she didn't like or believe in. To say that she has become an automatic never-buy-or-read-even-if-she-were-the-last-book-on-earth is an understatement.
I never set out to just hate a book sight unseen and even though I had the feeling Perfect Chemistry was going to be a perfect disaster, I gave it a chance because some of my Goodreads friends recommended it since they know I love interracial romance.Yes Virginia, I absolutely, positively HATED this book and it's only the second book I've ever read where I wished I believed in book burning because this one would be roasting hot dogs by now.
Did I mention how stereotype-laden this dreck thinly disguised as a YA romance was? Okay, try Mexican teenage boy who's poor and is in a gang meets pretty, White and rich teenage girl and they fall in love much to the consternation of the people around them. Really? Mexican teenage boy in a gang? Whoa. Just as good as Mexican boy as gardener? Or Mexican teenage boy as car wash attendant? I guess Mexican teenage boy as geeky science student from a stable and loving family wouldn't have worked, right Ms, Elkeles? Don't tell me, readers wouldn't have bought it.
Worse still are her descriptions of "gang life" which read like they came straight from the film 'American Me' or from the docu-series on A&E, 'Gangland'. It's basically over-the-top gratuitous from the point of view of a woman who thinks a little google research and some television shows are all that's needed to portray 'realistic' gang life sans nuance. The first thing I thought while reading about Alex was, why did he have to be in a gang? The story would have been just fine if he was just from the wrong side of the tracks, a poor kid with smarts trying to make good. And what was with the random high school-esque Spanish thrown in when Alex was talking with his family and his friends?
Next on the chopping block, Brittany. There are few female characters I've had the urge to slap silly, and she's right at the top of the list. Puddles have more depth than this girl. Oh yes, she struggles to be perfect, but everything's about her looks. We're constantly told how she's this Barbie Doll brought to life with her perfect hair, skin, body, makeup, boyfriend, etc. Where's the rest of her? I'm sure she's smart but I never got that impression. I got the impression of a spoiled, self-centered little rich girl who tossed this Mexican gangbanger-gone-good named Alex at her upper-crust parents in order to piss them off. I just didn't see any indication that she really cared for Alex, nor he for her (since she was part of a bet over a car). Maybe it was the writing, which was just painfully bad.
Unlike some readers, the sex and drugs aspect was probably the most accurate part of the book. Whether we want to deal with it or not, some teens are engaging in this behavior and we have to start dealing with it in an honest fashion. If there was any romance involved, I had a hard time seeing it because of all the rest of the FAIL.
The sad fact that this book won so many awards is just mindboggling at best but also shows these groups need a serious shot of diversity on their panels. There's no way a book this racially insulting should be winning anything save a Razzie, if they had them for books. The sad thing is, there's a dearth of well-written YA interracial romances out there. We need them featuring well-rounded characters and not stereotypes.
9 out of 30 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted January 8, 2012
THIS BOOK IS THE PERFECT STORY OF HOW OPPOSITES ATTRACT!!!!!!!!!!
This book was OUTSTANDING! It was the type of book where once you start it YOU CAN'T PUT IT DOWN! It was a story of Chicago high school students from seperate parts of town that could never be a realistic couple. Alex being a gang member, and Brittany the golden girl that she portrays for her family's sake. If they thought senior year would be simple they were very wrong. As a bet leads to something more than a bet to Alex, and Brittany thinking of how Alex really puts on a show to people to make him self appear as a BA! When they can't help but feel attraction to each other; Alex would do all most anything to protect Brittany from his life outside of school, his Latino Blood gang. Brittany struggles to keep the perfect girl act while she wonders if her and Alex could ever stand a Chance in the world.
Now don't get me wrong there were somethings that I didn't care for in this book. One would be the amount of foul lauange that was in it. Although it does portray how teenagers act these days, sad to say. Also THE GLITCH towards the end of the book around page 313 it would not change pages. It would have the same page appear each time I tried to change pages. Had to type in page after page to get to the end. Real disappointment there! This is not the author's fault! This was a book written Brillantly. AND EVEN WITH THE GLITCH " PERFECT CHEMISTRY" WAS SO GOOD THAT I STILL HAD TO GIVE IT 5 STARS!!!!! =D
8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Ok so this isnt very realistic only because guys like Alex arent real-most the time- but it was an amazing love story. If your like me, a hopeless romantic, i guarantee you'll be satisfied with this book. It is amazing and heart throbbing. I couldnt put it down!!!
7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted May 12, 2012
Posted July 1, 2009
This novel is a great quick entertaining read. I read it in one sitting. If you enjoy the classic opposites attract teen romance, you will enjoy this book.
6 out of 7 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 22, 2012
I decided to read this book after looking at some of the reviews and i am sooo glad that i bought it because i love it...i could not put the book down i wanted to read and read and read hoping the story would never end...If you like to read and want a good book pick it up you won't be dissappointed.
4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 6, 2013
I really disliked this book. I'm still confused to why people enjoy it. As a hispanic woman, I was extremely put off by the stereotypes but even that wasn't what really made me hate the story.
I agree with everything VixenneVictorienne had to say and I'm glad that there are at least a few others on here that understood that this was a terrible story.
3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.