Released: January 2008
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Young Adult - Contemporary - Series
At Fairfield High School, on the outskirts of Chicago, everyone knows that south siders and north siders aren't exactly compatible elements. So when head cheerleader Brittany Ellis and gang member Alex Fuentes are forced to be lab partners in chemistry class, the results are bound to be explosive. But neither teen is prepared for the most surprising chemical reaction of all - love. Can they break through the stereotypes and misconceptions that threaten to keep them apart?
This is the first book I have read by this author, and I will say right now - she has completely won me over! I absolutely LOVED this book! Told in alternating point of views, Elkeles took the most stereotypical characters and turned them into so much more.
Brittany is determined to be perfect. It’s the only thing she knows how to do. She can’t let anyone down or ruin the image she has worked her butt off for. Alex is a member of a Latino gang and has to be tough. He has to show the world he doesn't give a shit. Both of them have embedded this image of themselves to live by, and think nothing will change that. They can’t escape their lives, they were born to be who they were. But they’re not. Once these two characters let you into what is really going on with their lives. You see something different. Sure there is the perfect girl that isn't so perfect and the bad boy who wants more than life, but they sucked me right in and wouldn't let me go.
This book was a lot different read than most young adult I have come across. Simone does not sugar coat the character's feelings or what flies out of a character's mouth. This being said, if you don't like a whole lot of language or crude guy comments, (didn't bother me any, I use to roommate with three boys, I've heard and seen it all) - this book might not be for you. (Although I hope you can get over that because it really is a great story!)
It has the moments where I wanted to smack a few characters, (Colin and Darlene), laugh out loud, (the whole Was Paco in the bathroom? scene had me rolling!), and then bring me to the edge of my seat. There were times where I felt extremely nervous for Alex and Brittany because I wasn't for sure what the heck was going to happen next.
But the main thing I loved about this book was what I assume the author was getting across. Showing that even though there is diversity, and some people are born into this world rich, others born into this world poor - at the end of the day we are all still human. We all have our own set of dreams, disappointments, problems, and fears. I was surprised by the epilogue. Maybe because I haven't seen them that much in YA. I've read that some people weren't too fond of it, but to me, it was the perfect way to end the story.
And if my rambling hasn't convinced you enough then check out this book trailer.