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Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

faded colour picture of a dark haired Latino guy kissing a blond girl - faces onlyWhy I read it:  I borrowed this book from my local library.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  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.

What worked for me (and what didn’t): 

I’ve listened to (and enjoyed) Wild Cards (now retitled to Better Than Perfect) by Simone Elkeles and I know she has a reputation for writing great YA romance. So, I’ve had Perfect Chemistry on my radar for a while now but I’ve only just got around to actually reading it.

The story is told in the dual, alternating POV of Alex Fuentes and Brittany Ellis. They both go to the same Chicago high school. The story begins on day one of their senior year.

Brittany is from a wealthy family but her home life is not idyllic. Her father works a lot and is often away, her mother is obsessed with appearances and, apparently, perfection. Brittany’s sister, Shelley, was born with cerebral palsy and is quite disabled. She is confined to a wheelchair and is non-verbal. She can communicate through a computer keyboard which synthesises a voice for her and she does say a few words which are understandable to those familiar with her. She requires constant care but finding in-home helpers is difficult. Brittany’s parents consider sending Shelley away to a facility and Brittany sees this as a terrible option – one which punishes Shelley for being less than perfect and one which is done not for her (Shelley’s) well-being but for selfish reasons on the part of her parents. However, Brittany’s life looks, from the outside, as if it’s pretty perfect. She wears the right clothes, drives a fancy new sports car, is popular – including being the girlfriend of the star quarterback on the high school football team. She keeps her private life very private indeed – very few of her friends even know she has a sister, let alone anything else.

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