Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles. New York: Walker & Company, 2009. 357 pages.
1. A succinct evaluative annotation. Plot: [Conflict] Brittany gives off this vision that she has a perfect life: she lives in a big house, has a lot of money, the perfect boyfriend, captain of the cheerleading team, and going to have a “perfect” senior year. Alex is just trying to graduate high school since he’s in a Mexican gang, taking care of his family, and trying to live another year. However, both Alex and Brittany’s dreams were crushed when they were assigned as chemistry partners. [Rising Action] Brittany and Alex don’t get along: they are from two different households and put stereotypes to one another, automatically hating one another. [Climax] After being together for their project, both Alex and Brittany realize that they misjudged one another and fall in love, against all of the differences. [Falling Action] Alex gets out of the gang because he wants to be with Brittany without having that past following him the rest of his life. [Resolution] In the end, many years later, Alex and Brittany get married and live in the town they grew up, where their children were raised with no as much stereotypes as their parents went through. Theme: The themes in this novel include romance, stereotypes, gangs, identity, love, and discrimination. Tone: The tone of this story was very romantic but also serious. This story dealt with a lot of gang related scenes, making the story very serious for Alex when he had to do business with the leader of his gang. Style: The author’s writing style was very good: she wrote alternating chapters from Brittany and Alex’s viewpoint, letting the reader see what Alex and Brittany were both thinking throughout the entire story. Characterizations: Brittany was supposed to be this perfect blonde, white girl, but she was very generous, open hearted to everyone because her older sister was mentally disabled and she had to take care of her. Brittany was the only one that understood her sister, Shellby. Alex was perceived as a tough, bad boy who didn’t care about anything when really he just wanted his family to be safe and not have to worry about what might happen because he was in the gang. Readability: This was very easy to read – I flew through it and wished that the story never ended. Simone Elkeles did a wonderful job writing this novel to capture her readers into her story.
2. My reactions to the book. I loved this book! It was a Romeo & Juliet story where the characters were actually able to get a happy ending, even if it was a rough journey to get to the end. I think that the best strength of this book is that both teenage girls and boys can read this. There is gang related topics and half of the book is through a male’s perspective which I think many teenage boys can relate to. This wasn’t based on a true story, but I think some of the content might be accurate, depending on what Elkeles looked up before writing her novel.
3. Comment on the cover art. The cover art might be what throws off teenage boys from reading this book. Many males won’t want to read a book where it looks like it will be full of romance. The cover definitely shows what the book is about, but at the same time there is more to the book than just romance and I think the cover isn’t revealing all of the contents that it could to get a bigger audience. I’m not sure how the cover might be changed, maybe in a Romeo & Juliet scene and have Alex’s motorcycle with his gang or something to that effect – I think then more teenage boys will be willing to pick up the book and read it.