I can’t believe I read the whole thing.
And now I’m going to write a spoiler review so that you don’t have to read it when it comes out in December, 2008. Or if you like stereotypical characters, a predictable plot, and lots of heavy breathing in your teen fiction, you can run out and grab a copy for Christmas. Just don’t give it to me.
Alex is a Chicano gang banger from the wrong side of town, and Brittany is the blond and beautiful leader of the pom-pom squad. Alex’s dad is dead (killed in a gang-related murder), and his mom is loving but overwhelmed. Brittany lives with an inattentive dad and a neurotic mom who pressures her to be perfect. In fact Brittany pressures herself to be perfect because her mentally handicapped sister can never be the perfect daughter that Brittany’s mom wants. This books is actually about perfectionism, gangs, and sex, with sex at the top of the list.
So Miss Perfect But Really Poor Little Rich Girl meets Chicano Gang Member from Down in the Boondocks with a Rough Exterior But a Heart of Gold –in chemistry class–and what do you think happens? Of course, they fall for each other, and after several mildly humorous cross-cultural misunderstandings and lots of heavy breathing, petting and foreplay, and not a little violence, they get together, have sex before marriage, and live happily ever after.
Again, any author has a right to tell whatever story he or she wants to tell, and I have a right to say that it’s not only unrealistic, but misleading to the teens to whom this book is being marketed. Bad boys are not usually changed into law-abiding citizens by the love of a good woman, no matter what the romance writers may say. If your daughter takes up with a gang banger who in his spare time is an enforcer for criminal enterprises, you had better do more than wring your hands and whine that he’s just not our kind of people. No one is beyond redemption, not Mexican American gang members and not perfectionist fake blondes, but redemption is the product of repentance and a change of heart, not lust and a lucky break, as it is in this novel.
And don’t even get me started on the stereotypes that fill the book: Mr. Macho, Miss Popularity, Mr. Sidekick, Tough but Fair Chemistry Teacher, Back-Stabbing Friend, Weak Lawyer’s Son Boyfriend, Distant Dad, etc.
Thanks to Walker Books for sending me a review copy of Perfect Chemistry, but no thanks.