Author: Simone Elkeles
Release Date: January 1st, 2008
Published by: Walker Books for Young Readers
Pages: 360 pages
Goodreads Rating: 4.40 stars
Review: Brittany is a rich white girl with a perfect life - or so it seems. But really, her mom is controlling, her sister is mentally disabled, and she faces more problems than anyone would know but would do anything to keep that a secret. On the other side of the tracks, there's Alex Fuentes, gang member and general bad boy. Except he's not all he seems, either - he hates being part of the gang and only joined it to protect his younger brothers from having to do the same. But Brittany only sees the dangerous jerk and Alex only sees the shallow rich girl, so when they're paired up in chemistry class, neither is happy. Alex takes on a bet to see if he can get Brittany to fall in love with him, only to find that there's more than just school chemistry between them.
I felt like this story had a lot of cliches. The perfect girl who's not really perfect, the bad boy who's not really bad, the bet to make someone fall in love with you, the lab partners in science class. Especially the last one because really, who falls in love while working together with hydrochloric acid? My lab partner's a nice, normal girl, not a sparkly paranormal creature/dangerous gangsta/guardian angel. But I digress. My point is that although there were so many cliches that bothered me, the story still managed to work.
Brittany and Alex made an awesome couple. It's rather hard to make me swoon when I read, but I was halfway there when it came to some of those scenes. Plus, I love that the author broke away from the typical middle class, white, surburban couple and went for a multiracial, varying socioeconomic class couple. It was refreshing and nice to read a story where the ethnic character isn't token. (Or in this case, ethnic characters.) What I did find slightly annoying were the random Spanish words slipped in to Alex's dialogue. It worked sometimes but often just felt strange and out of place.
It does have to be said that while I enjoyed this book, there were definitely some majorly cheesy parts here. I mean, it's generally pretty much a given in romance books, and you can kind of see it coming from the synopsis, but I still found myself reading certain parts with raised eyebrows. Other than that, I really liked this book and may try the sequel (not sure yet). The romance was awesome, if a bit cheesy, and I loved that the author wasn't afraid to have prominent ethnic and disabled characters. This was an excellent read that I recommend to anyone who likes romances. I give this 4 out of 5 stars.