Friday, September 28, 2012

Chain Reaction

Chain Reaction
By Simone Elkeles

Chain Reaction is the third in Elkeles' trilogy. This book is again set in the neighborhood of Fairfield, right outside of Chicago. The Latino Blood gang was broken up but is now in the process of being built back up. Luis, the youngest Fuentes brother, has had a very different upbringing in Colorado. However, he is still a big risk taker. When his family moves back to his old neighborhood, he is forced to come to grips with gang reality and protecting his family. 

Luis also meets Nikki Cruz, a young woman he has met once before at his brother's wedding. Although Nikki's parents grew up in Mexico, she doesn't speak Spanish and lives on the wealthy side of the tracks. Luis tries to make friends with Nikki, but she has built a wall around her heart due to being hurt three years ago. 

The themes of gang violence are again present in this book. Fairfield High and Mrs. Peterson make appearances. There are lots of scenes with several Fuentes characters and friends. Old secrets are revealed that could hurt Luis forever. However, the love story between Luis and Nikki is missing something. 

Nikki and Luis have an odd attraction to one another that quickly becomes heated. I think it was heated a little two fast. In addition, several time periods are covered in this book that I think were unnecessary. Perhaps Elkeles wanted to showcase a younger Luis and Nikki but the romantic scenes needed to be for those at least 16 years of age. I also think the gang related plot was not necessary. There were so many other possibilities to showcase Luis and his love of danger. 

What did this book have to do with my faith? The book made me think about how easily I react in a non-Christian manner over bad news or bad happenings in my life. When bad things happen to Christians, why do we tend to shut others out or shut ourselves down? Is it an automatic reaction to guard our hearts? When Christians find out things about our family history or our loved ones, why do we become cynical? When I read the bible, I begin to see how Jesus wants us to claim other Christians as our family. Jesus prepares us to be betrayed. Jesus shows how we must suffer. At the same time, Jesus wants us to love others as we love ourselves and God. In other words, Jesus is setting us up to handle bad things and bad news. We should do so with an attitude of love rather than resentment or anger. Yet, time and again, Christians such as myself forget what Jesus has taught and do what we can to protect our own hearts from further hurt.

 I recommend Chain Reaction if you have read the other Perfect Chemistry books. 

Happy reading!


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