Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles as well as its sequel, Rules of Attraction, created a lot of buzz in the blogosphere. I’ve been curious about this book since I first heard about it but unfortunately, it wasn’t available here. Although Fully Booked did say that they had oncoming copies. So I’ve been bugging them for weeks, asking when the books will get here and they kept saying they didn’t know. I finally got a copy a few days ago and I immediately started to read it.
Here’s the summary from Simone Elkeles website:
A modern tale of star-crossed lovers with a fresh urban twist. At Fairfield High School, on the outskirts of Chicago , everyone knows that south-siders mixing with north-siders can be explosive. So when Brittany Ellis and Alejandro “Alex” Fuentes are forced to be lab partners in chemistry class, this human experiment leads to unexpected revelations – that Brittany ’s flawless reputation is a cover for her troubled home life, that Alex’s bad-boy persona hides his desire to break free from gang ties, and that when they’re together, life somehow makes more sense. Breaking through the stereotypes and expectations that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart, Perfect Chemistry takes readers to both sides of the tracks in a passionate love story about looking beneath the surface.
You can also read excerpts from the Perfect Chemistry website. Perfect Chemistry is a love story about a good girl and a bad boy, who are both more than who they seem to be. I know, I know, we’ve all heard and read and watched this kind of story before. There’s Romeo and Juliet, West Side Story, Grease and so on and so forth. There’s even a Grease reference in the book. Here’s a quote from one of the scenes where Alex’s friend is talking to him about Brittany:
“Oh, please, Alex. Colin Adams is cute, he’s the captain of the football team and Fairfield’s hero. You’re like Danny Zuko in Grease. You smoke, you’re in a gang, and you’ve dated the hottest bad girls around. Brittany is like Sandy… a Sandy who’ll never show up to school in a black leather jacket with a ciggie hangin’ from her mouth. Give up the fantasy.”
While there are similarities to the love story classics, Perfect Chemistry still has its own unique qualities. I love that Brittany and Alex were forced by the teacher to be chemistry lab partners and that’s how they get to know each other better. You can just imagine the fighting, two people with totally different lives, stuck with someone who each believes can’t possibly understand what he/she is going through. Lab partner love story + love-hate relationship ♥ I’m a sucker for this kind of set-up, it calls out to the science nerd in me. The book also deals with several other issues such as Brittany’s sister, Shelley, who has cerebral palsy and how it affects the whole family. Alex’s side of the story focuses on his life as a reluctant gang member and how he’s trying to protect his own family. The story is told from alternating points of view of Alex and Brittany. Both of them have problems and it was so much fun waiting for them to discover each other’s hidden depths.
I just have to mention the wedding scene, when the bride and groom were dancing and people went up to the bride to pin money at the back of her dress. Alex said that it’s a Mexican tradition. Filipinos do that too! Well, not everyone does it but I’ve attended a wedding where they do that but they pin money on both the bride and groom and not just the bride. Maybe it’s a Spanish tradition that just got passed on to us.
If you’re in the mood for a modern-day love story, then this is the right book for you. I admit that the premise is nothing new but when it’s well-written and has believable characters, you can’t help but love it just like you do the classics. Oh and I just have to mention that I also love the epilogue of this book. I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, which is about Alex’s brother, although goodness knows when it’ll ever get here.
And to convince you further to read this book, here’s the book trailer for Perfect Chemistry: