Perfect Chemistry – Simone Elkeles


Brittany is a picture of the perfect American girl. She’s blonde, beautiful and head of the cheerleading squad. She’s smart, too, and comes from a well-to-do middle class family. And just like the icing on an already piece of sublime cake, Brittany is dating the quarterback of the football team. Perfect, right?

Maybe, but maybe not, too.

Things certainly look perfect in Brittany’s life, but she’s harboring some deep secrets that she protects with her life. Her older sister is severely disabled and neither of her parents seems to care about her enough to do anything about it. The only reason they haven’t shipped her off to a nursing home yet is because Brittany flat-out refuses to let them do it. Through all her difficulties, Brittany loves her sister and can’t comprehend how her parents can be so cavalier about their first-born child. But her parents are all about appearances, you see, and having a severely disabled daughter contradicts the image they’ve built for themselves.

As if Brittany didn’t already have enough on her plate, on the first day of senior year her Chemistry teachers pairs her up with Alex Fuentes in class – and they’re bound to each other for the entire school year.

Alex Fuentes is not the picture of the perfect American boy. He’s Mexican, for one, and the biggest bad ass that attends Fairfield High School. Hot, right?


But he’s part of a gang which is much more serious than just a schoolyard group of bullies throwing their weight around. His father was part of this gang, and so are most of the boy and men in his Mexican community. They’re involved in some serious stuff – like drug dealing, for example – and now that Alex is getting older, his superiors expect him to step up to the plate.

When Alex is paired with Brittany, his friends make a bet with him and set him a challenge he can’t refuse: Alex must get Brittany to sleep with him before the end of the school year. Not one to walk away from a challenge, Alex accepts and sets about wooing his new chemistry partner. The thing is, Alex actually starts falling for this wholesome, clean-cut chick and things suddenly become more complicated than he ever imagined. But Brittany is a smart girl, she’d know better than to fall for Alex’s charade, right? And what about Colin – her quarterback boyfriend? As she spends more time with Alex, Brittany realises that no one has ever made her feel more alive, made her feel more intensely than he does.

Simone Elkeles carves an intense, emotional roller-coaster ride for anyone who dares to step aboard. Her characters are real, alive and dynamic in every which way. I felt like I knew Alex intimately, even though I’ve never met a soul like him in all my years. Brittany is uniquely different from most typical American high school girls found in young adult fiction today. She might look like an American trophy chick, but she’s deeply sensitive and completely misunderstood by the rest of her classmates. The world could learn a thing or two from Brittany’s example.

They’re different in every way and they have many obstacles to overcome, but are they strong enough – individually and together – to run the gauntlet that becomes their lives?

Perfect Chemistry is a touching story that demonstrates that love knows no boundaries, but that humanity knows far too many. I adored every freaking minute of this book and would give my left little toe to go back and read it for the first time over again. A completely unputdownable read.

Rock on Simone, Rock on.


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