Monday, September 24, 2012

Perfect Chemistry

Perfect Chemistry
By Simone Elkeles

Perfect Chemistry is the first book in a romance trilogy by Simone Elkeles. Of the three, this one is the best. The chemistry between the two main characters really leaps off the page, their dialogue is not only funny but really charged, and it just seems as though there is no way the two of them will ever be a real couple. 

Although the main storyline is the romance between Alejandro Fuentes and Brittany Ellis, real life issues of membership in gangs, of divides between rich and poor, and of hiding who you really are from other people are fully explored. I wonder how much research Elkeles had to do on details of Latino gangs (and all the Spanish slang) before writing this book because her details are far from romanticized. 

Both Alex and Britt come from opposite sides of the tracks, yet they have many things in common, including a love of chemistry. And it is as lab partners in the classroom of touch chemistry teacher Mrs. Peterson that they discover there is more to each other than seems to be on the surface. It is remarkable that two such teenagers could have as many secrets and hidden goals as they do. 

Alex is a member of the Latino Blood gang. He doesn’t want to be in the gang but he does it to protect his family. His father was a member and was possibly killed by another member. Alex’s own future is uncertain, although he dreams of actually going to college and making something of himself. His main goals are to keep his two younger brothers out of the Blood and to at least graduate from high school. 

Britt is perfect on the surface. She makes perfect grades, wears perfect clothes, and dates the perfect guy. Yet, there are so many secrets she is hiding. Her parents are emotionally distant, her older sister is severely disabled, and Britt’s main goal in life is to attend a local university so that she can remain close to home to look after her sister. She is also a bit weary of her relationship with her boyfriend. As she begins her senior year, much of her perfect world begins crashing down around her. 

I love how both of these troubled teenagers discover each other’s secrets and their deep down ability to truly care for others. Although they also can hurt one another, they also can deeply love one another. I also enjoyed that I could never figure out how they could ever possibly be together. 

What did this book have to do with my faith? What struck me was, although the Latino Blood gang was extremely violent and coercive, there was also an abiding loyalty. Members kept secrets, watched each other’s backs and provided a united front against rival gangs. Have Christian believers ever had loyalty? I don’t mean loyalty to one another but loyalty to Christ. When other Christians reveal facts about themselves -- especially the sinful juicy ones -- they are most likely to gossip to others. Christians are also more likely to stab each other in the back rather than watch each other’s backs. Christians are also lacking in the ability to have true unity -- although this is a biblical principle that the apostle Paul prays for churches with whom he corresponds. Although I don’t suggest Christians become gangs, I do wonder if there isn’t room for some improvement in these areas. 

I recommend Perfect Chemistry.

Happy reading!


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