Thursday, January 15, 2015

Book #Review: Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry 1) by Simone Elkeles .@simoneelkeles

Book Title: Perfect Chemistry (A Perfect Chemistry Novel)
Author:  Simone Elkeles |WebsiteTwitterFacebook|
Publisher: Walker Publishing Company
Genre: Young Adult Romance
Series/Standalone: Series
Format: Trade paperback
Cost: $9.99
Pages: 385
How I got it: Library Purchased It cost (0.50)
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks
Publication Date: January 2009
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At Fairfield High School, on the outskirts of Chicago, everyone knows that south siders and north siders aren't exactly compatible elements. So when head cheerleader Brittany Ellis and gang member Alex Fuentes are forced to be lab partners in chemistry class, the results are bound to be explosive. But neither teen is prepared for the most surprising chemical reaction of all-love. Can they break through the stereotypes and misconceptions that threaten to keep them apart? "Miss Ellis" Mrs. Peterson says. "It's your turn. Introduce Alex to the class." "This is Alejandro Fuentes. When he wasn't hanging out on street corners and harassing innocent people this summer, he toured the inside of jails around the city, if you know what I mean. His secret desire is to go to college and become a chemistry teacher, like you, Mrs. Peterson." Brittney flashes me a triumphant smile, thinking she's won this round. Guess, again, gringa. "This is Brittney Ellis," I say, all eyes now focused on me. "This summer she went to the mall, bought new clothes so she could expand her wardrobe, and spent her daddy's money on plastic surgery to enhance her, ahem assets. Her secret desire is to date a Mexicano before she graduates." Game on...
I loved reading this, I'd only read one other book by Simone and I had enjoyed the characters she created, so when I saw how many people loved this series I thought why not go ahead and get it. When I saw it at the library book sale for $0.50, I just knew I had to get it.  It took a while to be in the mood, but when I was, I found that I read quickly.  This story was actually both good and bad and I'll tell you why.

As a woman of color who grew up in NYC, specifically the Bronx during the 90s (which is when the gangs were starting to really act up, not that I lived anywhere close to it, but you took the trains in the city, you saw their tags on all the walls, some of them went to my schools and some even lived on our streets. They weren't confined to one neighborhood and that was a source of their major issues in the  city.)  Anyway not to make this a  sociology lesson, but Simone never gave a reason for the mother being ok with her son being in the gang, she worked, and she could have let her son work as well. Plenty of kids grow up in the neighborhoods with gangs without falling to them.  I do understand that his father being in the gang was his real reason for joining, but I'm sot seeing why she couldn't have moved before the gang became a real problem before.  Why wait until you get so deep that there is nowhere to go??  I needed more of a reason other than it's where they lived, especially because she was so strict about everything else in their lives, why not this??  Most kids join gangs for several different reasons mostly for a sense of family, but in this one he had a good family group, most of them not in the gang, so why was there no one to help keep him from the life??

I guessed way before he did what happened to his father and I kinda expected the outcome but I still enjoyed the story, the buildup was good and the story flowed in a way that you got invested in their lives.  He had good friends around and teachers who cared and even he was beginning to think this wasn't the life for him.  I liked that he questioned things and began to ask himself why, Why was he there?? Why did his mother not keep him from the gang?? What happened to his father??  What would life be like beyond these streets.

I loved their friendship, it challenged them to see beyond the stereotypes that they had of each other.  I loved that Mrs. Peterson was the major catalyst for their friendship, but they really began to see themselves as different before they started working together and only grew more due to their friendships.  I liked that they had detractors as friends and those who wanted them to see beyond what they thought they knew.  I loved that they still grew challenged and embraced themselves and who they wanted to be.

I loved Mrs.Peterson and Dr.Aguilera they fought on when most would have given up. It's funny the delineation wasn't so strong when I was in high school but I can see this happening now in high school.  As I said I went to an inner city high school and the student there intermingled quite a bit, you did have your kids that stuck to their own groups, but plenty of people dated and it wasn't that big of a deal.

I did enjoy the female friendships in this book, I loved that Brit had good friends who were trying to look out for her (some of the things they said however were just this side of racist). I loved the secondary characters, they were well written and well rounded.

I wanted more from Alex's mother, we got plenty from Brittani's mother and her reasoning for being a total idiot, but we got almost nothing in way of reasoning from Alex's mother.  I also felt some stereotypes were relied on heavily throughout the book.  I found it hilarious that Simone called the gang Latin Bloods considering the arm of the bloods are called the latin kings.  When she said the crown as the symbol it solidified it for me.

I did find this entertaining and interesting, and i really enjoyed how ell the characters were written.  I felt intrigued and wanted to know all about their world and the things they were experiencing. Simone had a way of pulling you in and making you love what she was sharing so  the story was very good.

I wish we got more from Isa, because she seemed like the most put together member of the group.  , but I'm going to enjoy the rest of the series.
I have two more books in the series and I'm interested in seeing how this works out for the other brothers.  Happy Reading

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