I am a Bad Reader. I know perfectly well that writers put the ending at the end for very good reasons, but sometimes I just have to know how it all works out. I hit a new low while reading Perfect Chemistry, a new YA book by Simone Elkeles (Bloomsbury, 2008). I checked at least five times, because I kept getting anxious about the romance between the two main characters (not to be spoilerish or anything).
The romance is the central element of this book. Brittany seems like a perfect rich white girl, Alex seems like an archetypal Hispanic bad boy. But beneath their carefully crafted exteriors (crafted by themselves, that is, as well as by Elkeles), each hides a different, more vulnerable self. When their chemistry teacher makes them partners for the year, they are both appalled. But the chemistry between them cannot be stopped by stereotypes and misconceptions...although it does get awfully tense at times, what with gang violence and drug deals and family secrets. Which is why I had to keep checking the end.
Maybe this isn't the most realistic book ever, but it sure had me caring about Brittany and Alex, willing to suspend disbelief and enjoy.
Perfect Chemistry is told in alternating viewpoints, and I am wondering if having Alex as the narrator for half the book will result in any teenage boys giving this a try...and if they would like it. It's easy to predict that many teenage girls will eat it up.
There's another review here at the Ya Ya Yas.