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 anyhing 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 suddenely 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 barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.
Billed as 'a fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers', this story is definitely a modern take on Romeo and Juliet. The book alternates between the two main characters (Alex and Brittany) with each chapter, so you get two different perspectives. Elkeles really channels their individual personalities. They are both in a way completely different from one another due to their different backgrounds and this is why they clash at the start. Yet, as the story progresses they discover that they may not be so different after all. They both want what's best for the people they love, including each other.
Brittany is one tough cookie when it comes to her mother. She keeps up this facade that makes everyone thinks she is perfect. She is always trying to please her mother and never cracks even when her mother makes snide remarks about what she is wearing or who she is hanging out with. Brittany's kindness and devotion to her sister is inspiring.
Alex is also trying to keep up a facade, but his isn't anything to do with being perfect, his is more to do with making sure he's intimidating to others. Alex's involvement with a gang really comes across as real and quite scary. He is torn between doing what he really wants with his life and staying loyal to the gang because if any of the gang, especially the leader, doubt his loyalty he will end up in grave danger.
One of the big theme's in this novel is sacrifice. Brittany has to sacrifice her time and happiness to keep up a front for her family. Whereas, Alex has to sacrifice his safety and freedom to make sure his family can try and lead a carefree life. Both Alex and Brittany have their problems, but they never complain or moan about them, they just get on with it. They are both strong and brave which makes them fantastic and lovable characters.
Whilst I did find some of the romance a bit cheesy at times, it still didn't make it feel any less real. The tension and attraction between them steadily grew until it finally lead to them falling in love. Yes, Alex is cocky and yes, Brittany is a bit of a snob at the start, but this all falls apart when they are with each other. Elkeles writing is smooth the whole way through which made it very addictive. Overall it was a very exciting and passionate book about forbidden love and the ability to overcome social barriers.
Random Passage: 'The reason I want you to put your shirt on is, well, because, um...'
'You've never seen a guy with his short off?'
'Ha, ha. Very funny. Believe me, you don't have anything I haven't seen before.'
'Wanna, bet?' he says, then moves his hand to the button on his jeans and pops it open.
Isabel walks in at that exact moment. 'Whoa, Alex. Please keep your pants on.'