Reading level: Young Adult
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Walker Books for Young Readers (December 23, 2008)
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.
I had mixed feelings about this one. There were parts of it that I liked. I liked reading about Alex and his life. Even though the characters were completely stereotypical, I still found myself wanting them to be together, to overcome all the odds. I liked Brittany's character, but found it a little unbelievable that she supposedly loved her sister so much, but was embarrassed to tell anyone about her. Then there was gang-banger, bad-boy, obnoxiously crude and sexist on the outside, but sweet and cuddly on the inside, Alex. His dialog was SO stereotypical! "Hey mamacita!" and the like, seemed to make up his entire vocabulary, when he wasn't quoting John Steinbeck, that is....uh, yeah.... Alex's thoughts were often so "un-guy-like", too. I wish I could remember some of the things he thought, but I just found myself rolling my eyes thinking, "What guy would say something like that?" It was just so corny that I was embarrassed for him!!
Everything about this book was cliche. And while I appreciate what the author was trying to do, making this an interracial relationship, I just don't think she pulled it off.
And then there was the epilogue. OH....NO....it was so awful! It had to be the absolute cheesiest thing I've ever read in my life. I just wanted to hide the book so that no one would see.....I was that embarrassed. Honestly, I think the book seems to be written for eighth graders, but I would NEVER let an eighth grader read a book that had so much sexual dialog, not to mention profanity on every page (probably more than any I've ever read). Especially when Brittany ends up having sex with Alex, just so he won't go on a drug deal, and will live happily ever after with her instead. Yeah....I'm sure that's how things happen in real life (since we're so stuck on being "realistic").
I guess I would put this in the category of Trashy Romance Novels. If you like guilty pleasures with a gangsta twist, and just want to read about two teens talking about and having sex (their entire relationship is built on a crude bet that he can get in her pants), then this is right up your alley. However, if you like the idea behind this book, but are looking for something a little more mature and well-written, you should try Take Me There by Carolee Dean instead.