Reviewer: Lori Graham
Title: Perfect Chemistry
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Walker and Company
Release Date: December 2008
Publisher’s Age/Grade Recommendation: 14 and up
OUAR’s Age/Grade Recommendation: 17 and up
Overall rating: 4.0
Sexual Content Rating: Sensual with brief sexual
Language (Profanity) Content Rating: Mild
Violent Content Rating: Minimal
Simone's Website: www.simoneelkeles.net/index-web.html
Brittany Ellis is living every girl’s dream. It is her senior year in high school. She is the co-captain of the cheerleading squad and seriously dating the school’s major jock. So if that is why all true, why is she feeling so dissatisfied? Granted she has some home issues but all in all, life shouldn’t feel this way. Things begin to come to a head as her chemistry teacher gives her a partner who challenges her and her parents announce a change at home.
Alejandro Fuentes is the partner Brittany is given. He is everything a rich, popular cheerleader should stay away from. He is Hispanic and belongs to a gang. He lurks on the fringes of the high school society and certainly can’t be very smart given the way he talks. Yep, not a good match. Or????
Simone Elkeles has created a modern day West Side Story. I loved the interaction between Brittany and Alejandro. They face many of the same peer issues that teens today deal with and she didn’t sugar coat anything. Yet, she helped them find a way to deal with those problems and come out ahead. The settings were the perfect illustration for the characters created. The secondary characters were integral to the story as they helped to intensify the angst the main characters were experiencing.
My only hesitation with the story as I previewed it with my sixteen-year-old daughter in mind was the level of sexual activity in the story. Teenagers deal with sexual tension on a daily basis but the amount shown in this book was just a bit much for this mom. Don’t get me wrong it is very well done and doesn’t show too much. It is truly a book that I will be recommending to my daughter—but maybe in one more year.
Overall though, this book is truly well done—the poignancy of real life comes through completely and shows character growth of two teenagers that would make any parent proud. From a teenage-standpoint, the story shows a very real, very raw romance and the turmoil of falling for someone you wouldn’t normally see yourself with.
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