Sunday, July 11, 2010
Perfect Chemistry - By Simone Elkeles
My Review Rating 8/10
I have only recently started reading YA, and reading books like this makes me wonder why it has taken me so long.
Perfect Chemistry is set in Chicago in a small town ruled by a fierce social divide. The Northside of Fairfield is home to the wealthy and admired, whereas the Southside is where gangs and danger lurk at every corner. Northsider Brittany Ellis is everything a girl wants to be. She is rich, popular, captain of the pom squad, beautiful with an ideal set of friends and a picture perfect boyfriend and family. At least that's what Brittany wants everyone to think, you see, Brittany's life isn't perfect and everyday is a struggle to maintain control of that persona.
Southsider Alejandro Fuentes is one of the baddest bad boy's around town. He has a knack for creating fear and trouble everywhere he goes, usually it isn't his fault. Alex isn't affected either way since no one expects him to graduate High School, even if he secretly wants to. Alex is a fully fledged member of the Latino Blood gang that dictates Southside Fairfield. His sole focus is protecting his mother and brothers from the gang that rules his life, whilst maintaining his gang banger image. The irony baffles Alex tool.
On their first day as seniors at school, hot-headed-zero-tolerance-for-trouble teacher Mrs Peterson pairs Brittany and Alex together as chemistry partners for the rest of the year. Providing a new meaning to the term `opposites attract'.
The novel is written in a joint perspective, switching from Alex's and Brittany's perspective every chapter. This aids in understanding the characters for who they are inside and not what they are perceived to be by the rest of Fairfield. By getting access into both Brittany and Alex's head we understand the motives behind their actions, as well as who they really are inside and who they want to be.
Simone Elkeles explores the harsh realities of characters both South and North of Fairfield. She tackles issues like disabilities, drugs, sex, violence, loyalty and familial relationships whilst maintaining the lightheaded and sarcastic humour that she is renowned for.
It was a really enjoyable read.