Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry

357 pp.  Walker & Company (Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc.)  2009  ISBN: 978-0-8027-9822-0

Summary (From the publisher):

A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers.
When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created “perfect” life is about to unravel before her eyes. She’s forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she’s worked so hard for-her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more. In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.


Perfect Chemistry is a book that my girls in class have been telling me to read for a long time.  I don’t know why I’ve waited so long to read it, but I finally did and LOVED IT.


The story is told through the eyes of both Brittany and Alex, through alternating chapters.  When this is done right, like it is in Perfect Chemistry, it makes the story that much better.  Usually when I read a book in this format, I still feel myself connecting with one character more than the other.  That’s not that case with this book; I was attached to both Brittany and Alex.


I will admit, the repetition of how they are keeping up “facades” really started to bother me.  Simone Elkeles kept repeating it, and I just wanted to say “Okay, I get it!”  There are a couple nuances to her writing that irk me, but the strength of the story and the characters out-weighed everything else.  They were never enough to keep me from wanting to finish the book.  She does include a lot of Spanish when Alex is talking, and I’m not very good with Spanish, so more translation would be nice.  Most of the time Alex says the same thing in English, but other times I just had no clue what the word meant.  This isn’t to say I won’t look up those words, but it’s not something I’m going to put the book down for.


 Perfect Chemistry isn’t tragic, but the angst of Brittany and Alex’s love is strong.  My girls in class really enjoy a good love story, so I’m not surprised they’ve been telling me to read this.  I was completely hooked within a few chapters.  I was smitten with Alex and won over by Brittany’s need to break away from her reputation.  They’re honest characters with conflicts that draw you in before you’ve even realized it.  I kept wondering when they’d have their first kiss, is their relationship going to work out, etc.  Brittany and Alex have conflicts with their relationship, but they also have conflicts within their individual lives that often play a part in their relationship (i.e. gangs and family).  These ups and downs make for a fun ride for the reader, albeit a not-so-fun ride for the characters!


Summer is nearly here, so if you’re looking for a steamy summer love story, I can’t recommend Perfect Chemistry enough.  This is one of the few books that I stayed up late to read and woke up early to finish.  I’d love to say more, but this is a book that I can’t review fully without major spoilers.


  1. I loved this book, too. For me, so many romances feel contrived and I can’t figure out what two people have in common other than attraction. This book had a deeper story and connection between the characters, I thought. Thanks for the review…gotta listen to those kids in your class — they’ll steer you right! 🙂

    • Mrs. Andersen says:

      You explained it perfectly, Amy! That’s how I feel about a lot of romances as well. And you’re right about my kids! 🙂

  2. I can finally stop hounding you to read Simone Elkeles (and the girls in your class too!) I am so glad you liked this book! It really is such a great romance story, and you’re right, everyone needs a good romance now & then! Great review 🙂


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