Perfect Chemistry

Perfect Chemistry

Book Information

Walker Books for Young Readers, 2008

He’s everything that she isn’t, so everyone thinks. We read the cover and assume we’ll be reading another good girl/bad boy opposites attracting-type of books. But what we get is a story of what can happen when people get to know one another. When Alex (Latino, gang member), on the pretense of a guy bet, gets to know Brittany (White, cheerleader) he realizes there is more to her perfect façade. Brittany realizes Alex may wear the colors of the Bloods and he may talk tough, but he has brothers, a warm home and a real brain.

Alex and Brittany are forced to work together in Chemistry class where this wise young teacher knows there is more to learn in school than content matter so she decides who will pair with whom. These two young people don’t want to work together, but ah… they doest protest too much! The story evolves to bring them together in a manner that seems real, never too contrived. Situations such as racism, Alex’s desire to leave the gang and Brittany’s strong relationship with her special-needs sister add layers of meaning to the reading without weighing the story down.

Recommended by Edi Campbell, Lbrarian, Indiana, USA

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Fairfield High School, an ethnically diverse high school in Chicago, is the perfect setting for heterogeneous interactions.  However perfect as this setting may be, the north siders and south siders are not necessarily compatible.  One can only imagine the result when rich girl Brittany Ellis and gang member Alex Fuentes are assigned to be lab partners in a Chemistry class.  When  the relationship heats up, Brittany and Alex try hard to contain their feelings for each other.  Do Brittany and Alex have the right elements for a compatible relationship?

The first book in a trilogy about the Fuentes brothers, Perfect Chemistry is about the oldest son, Alex.  In alternating chapters, Elkeles presents Alex’s and Brittany’s thoughts about their relationship, family, education, social class, and love.  The dialogue is witty and provocative.  The action is fast-paced and will keep the reader turning the page.  The other characters in the story are portrayed realistically and are very interesting in their own ways.

Recommended by Karen Lemmons, Library Media Specialist, Detroit School of Arts, Michigan USA

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(Updated: April 15, 2013)
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