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Perfect Chemistry (A Perfect Chemistry Novel) Hardcover – December 23, 2008

579 customer reviews

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Hardcover, December 23, 2008
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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 10 Up—Told in alternating narratives, Perfect Chemistry portrays a romance between two unlikely lab partners. Brittany is her Chicago high school's "golden girl" but few of her friends know that her parents are totally dysfunctional and that she is highly invested in caring for her physically and mentally disabled older sister. Alex is a member of the Latino Blood, but he wishes he could leave gang life and pursue a college career. The plot thickens as Alex accepts a bet from a friend that he cannot bed Brittany by Thanksgiving. Smoldering doesn't quite do justice to the romantic banter that sparks between them. As the story unfolds, Alex is incarcerated and later hospitalized. Raw language and Spanish phrases that Anglo readers might feel obligated to investigate further are peppered throughout. The pace picks up too quickly at the end, leaving readers wondering if they missed something as time that has previously been marked day by day begins to clip along in five-month increments. Overall though, this is a solid romance that's suitable for reluctant readers.—Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Tough guy Alex is primarily known by his classmates as a dangerous member of the Latino Bloods gang. He’s not exactly thrilled when Brittany Ellis, the school’s seemingly perfect beauty queen, is assigned as his lab partner—and the feeling is more than mutual. But Alex’s bravado works against him when he impulsively accepts a bet that he can get Brittany in the sack. The romance that follows will not surprise any reader, yet Elkeles gives it heart by constantly switching point of view from Alex to Brittany to provide dual running commentaries on their minute-by-minute insecurities and urges. Brittany’s controlling parents and sister with cerebral palsy are well drawn, but it is Elkeles’ rendition of Alex and his life that is particularly vivid. Sprinkling his speech with Spanish, his gruff but tender interactions with his family and friends feel completely genuine. An idealized epilogue drains away some of the book’s realism, but if the “romance” angle isn’t pushed too hard, this is a novel that could be embraced by male and female readers in equal measure. Grades 9-12. --Daniel Kraus --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: A Perfect Chemistry Novel
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Childrens (December 23, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802798233
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802798237
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (579 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,216,565 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Simone Elkeles is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Perfect Chemistry series, Leaving Paradise series and How to Ruin series. Simone is super excited about her newest series, Wild Cards. All three books in the Perfect Chemistry series have been YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers and the Illinois Association of Teachers of English named Simone 2008 Author of the Year. Simone's funny way of looking at the world shines through in novels that are bursting with sarcastic wit, edgy characters, and exhilarating drama. You can find her at

Be sure to check out Simone's book trailers at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By The Compulsive Reader VINE VOICE on December 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
Alex Fuentes is gang member from the south side of Fairfield, and Brittany Ellis is a privileged girl from the north. Each have a status and a reputation to uphold at Fairfield High, but they also have secrets--for Alex, it's the desire to break free from the Latino Blood gang and his tough image and succeed in life. Brittany's life may look perfect from the outside, but at home, her parents are struggling to deal with Brittany's handicapped sister.

Brittany and Alex are on the opposite ends of the social scene spectrum, but that doesn't stop their chemistry teacher from making them lab partners. It's hate at first sight for both, but as they learn more about each other and slowly move beyond the stereotypes, they'll discover completely new people.

Perfect Chemistry is the classic love story of two utterly different people falling for each other, despite their initial loathing. Elkeles breathes new life into the old tale, giving it a fresh teenage perspective by interchangeably writing in both Alex and Brittany's point of view, keeping Perfect Chemistry fresh and evenly paced. The plot is realistic and sweet without being cliché, and the dialogue is perfect; gritty, and genuine. Each side is portrayed objectively, and though Alex and Brittany's relationship does move at a fast pace, their thoughts, insecurities, hang-ups, and urges all ring true and are easy for nearly any teen to identify with.

Though it is an important part of the book, the romance doesn't dominate it: strong themes of acceptance, diversity, courage, and independence are also present, making for a powerful read that boldly faces the consequences of gang life, and offers an unflinching look at how difficult it is to extricate oneself from it. Elkeles has created a riveting and strong novel with an important and relevant message and a romance hotter than any exothermic reaction.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Tiffany on February 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this novel by Simone Elkeles. It was essentially a story of forbidden love, an almost epic romance, but put into a YA novel. There is the "bad boy" Alex, who lives in a lower income area and is a member of a gang. He has his issues in his life, but has a tough/bad reputation at school. Then, there is the "Golden Girl" Brittany, who seems to have the perfect life, but really, she doesn't. And, unlike some girls in her positions, she is not spoiled or self-centered. Of course, they are made for each other.

I am a sucker for these kind of stories, loving Veronica Mars and Logan Echols kind of pairings (from the TV show Veronica Mars). So, even though it has a fairly predictable plot, if it's what you want to read, pick this up!

The characters are really well done, in my opinion. I do not personally know any Spanish speaking gang members, but I do know that some of the Spanish in the book should not be repeated in a polite setting (so, there is a feeling of realism in the book). I thought both Alex and Brittany were very well-developed characters who grew with each other in the book.

The writing style is easy to read and very engaging. I picked up the book and could not put it down, finishing it in one night.
There are some sad/hard/slightly graphic parts to read in the book, but it is expected. I had fairly high expectations for this book, having read Leaving Paradise, and felt they were exceeded. While it is not an original idea, I loved it and would recommend it to anyone wanting to read a very well done teen romance.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Jenny, Wondrous Reads on April 2, 2009
Format: Paperback
Sigh. I'm in love with yet another fictional male character: Alejandro Fuentes. As a Mexicano gang member with a desire to make something more of himself, he's your typical bad boy trapped in a life he doesn't want. Enter Brittany Ellis: head cheerleader with a seemingly perfect life, who ends up falling for Alex against her better judgement.

Could I put this book down? Even for five minutes? No, I could not.

I'm a sucker for epic, forbidden love stories, so it's no surprise that I loved Perfect Chemistry. It's like a modern Romeo & Juliet, only with gangs and high school. Simone Elkeles has a brilliant writing style that hooked me from the first page, and there's no way for me to describe it other than compelling and addictive.

I love Alex and Brittany, and I seriously didn't want the book to end. I even liked the epilogue which was a bit cheesy, yes, but oh so satisfying. The classic love story is one we've all seen before: two people from different worlds meet, and, against all odds, fall madly in love with each other. Elkeles has mixed this one up a bit, and has added depth and intrigue to her characters, making them both immensely likeable and realistic.

Perfect Chemistry touches upon some important messages and themes, including race, disability, and acceptance. Each character confronts their imperfections, learns what it means to be in love, and how to deal with the consequences and sacrifices that inevitably accompany it.

I can't think of anything else to say here, as I've still got that 'wow' feeling you get after reading a great book. If you're a fan of the romance genre, I highly recommend you get yourself a copy of this. You won't be disappointed!
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28 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Irish of Ticket to anywhere on December 24, 2009
Format: Paperback
Perfect Chemistry is one of those books that I first heard about on Twitter. The buzz was all good so I found myself picking up a copy one day at the bookstore. Then as with so many others it got lost on Mt TBR. Then a few weeks ago there was some chatter among friends on Twitter about Bad Boys - love them, hate them and just what makes a well drawn Bad Boy. There are two main categories of Bad Boy, you've got the creepy stalkerish boy of Twilight and Hush Hush and then there are the ones that do bad things but deep down they have a good heart. It's the later of the two that I prefer and its that later category that Alejandro "Alex" Fuentes from Perfect Chemistry falls into. I became intrigued with all the Twitter talk about Alex and so decided to move Perfect Chemistry up a few notches on Mt TBR and initially I was really impressed by it.

Perfect Chemistry is life a modern day Romeo and Juliet or maybe West Side Story would be a better comparison. The two main characters are star-crossed lovers who have many obstacles to over come in order to be together - both outside influences and internal ones as well. Brittany initially reads as a bit shallow but as her story progresses you do learn that there is more to her then her perfect exterior. There is also more to Alex than his gang affiliations. Alex is different then the others in his gang he is smart, doesn't really mind school and has a secret dream to go to college. He's realistic and knows that the cards he was dealt won't really allow for that, but if it doesn't happen for him then maybe he can makes things just a little bit better for his two younger brothers. Both who see the gang way of life through rose colored glasses. They know their brother is in one and if its good enough for him then why not them?
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