4 out of 5 stars
Simone Elkeles' novel Perfect Chemistry is a heart warming and very suspenseful story. Alex Fuentes and Brittany Ellis are the most unexpected couple at Fairfield High School, located in a suburb of Chicago. It is a book you don't want to put down.
Brittany Ellis tries to be perfect for her family, although her family is far from perfect. She is the captain of the pom pom squad and has the perfect boyfriend, Colin Adams. They make up the Golden Couple and without each other the world would be "whacked" out of alignment. Fairfield is also home to some members of the Mexican gang the Latino Blood. Alex Fuentes is one of the most feared members.
From the first time Brittany and Alex encounter each other, there is a reaction of personalities, both of them hiding something from the rest of the world. Simone Elkeles does an extraordinary job of showing that two people can be the ultimate couple, especially when it is not expected.
Read our interview with Simone Elkeles below!!
How did growing up in the suburbs of Chicago influence the plot and setting of Perfect Chemistry?
Perfect Chemistry is loosely based off of Highland Park High School, which was my rival high school growing up. The setting is definitely familiar to me, because it’s close to where I grew up. There is a big Hispanic community on one side of “the tracks” (yes, there are literally tracks separating the town) and kids who live in mansions on Lake Michigan on the other side. They all go to the same high school, and I thought it would be great to see what would happen if two people from different sides fell for each other. I’m a girl who was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs. I know Chicago – it’s in my blood! I think it’s hard to write about Chi-Town unless you’ve lived here.
What was your inspiration in creating the Fuentes brothers and how did you manage to make them so irresistible?
Seriously, Alex was first based off of this Mexican guy who works at my bagel store. Besides making the best bagels in the Chicagoland area, he’s got charisma and swagger that can’t be ignored. You can’t help but focus on him when you walk in the store. When he smiles, you smile right along with him. I think the Fuentes brothers are so irresistible because they’re not only super hot looking, they’ve also got the biggest hearts. When they love, they love with all of their heart and soul. It’s also super sexy to be so dedicated to your family that you’d do anything for them – even sacrifice yourself. I think you fall in love with Alex, Carlos, and Luis Fuentes for different reasons because they’re so different- I’m so thankful my fans love them as much as I do!
Have you done any work with teens affected by gangs?
Yes. I have spoken with boys at juvenile detention centers in the United States, and I also have fans that have been in gangs. I met with some of them for research on Chain Reaction and it was definitely eye-opening and heartbreaking at the same time. These teens have been through so much, and have seen too much violence in their young lives – more violence than anyone should see in a lifetime!
What advice do you have for teens who find themselves in the same situations as Alex and Carlos?
My fans who relate to Alex and Carlos find themselves wanting to be like Alex and Carlos – they want to clean up their lives and be a hero. It’s not easy to do, but it’s definitely possible! I hope my books give inspiration to teens in those situations.
How long did it take to write each of the Perfect Chemistry novels?
Perfect Chemistry I wrote in four months, but kept rewriting it over five years. Rules of Attraction took about 4-5 months. Chain Reaction I re-wrote three times over nine months.
Is there a certain process you go through when writing the books?
Nope. I don’t write off of an outline, so I just write “Chapter 1” and start typing. The stories usually come to me as I’m writing them. Sometimes it’s easier to write at my office where I have no distractions, and sometimes I have to go to a coffee shop where I welcome the background noise. I have no specific process. Because I had a harder time writing Chain Reaction, I cut pictures out of magazines to represent each character and glued them to a poster board to help me.
Are there any plans for a movie based on Perfect Chemistry? I know we would love to see one!
My film agent, Michelle Weiner at CAA, thinks Perfect Chemistry would make a great television series. Cross your fingers that a film or series is made, because I’d love to see my characters come to life on the big or small screen!
Can you tell us a little about what it was like on the set of the Chain Reaction book trailer?
It was amazing, surreal, and super emotional. Seeing my characters come to life, as I’d always imagined them, is completely mind-blowing. I was giddy and dorky the entire time, loving every single second of it. It was also stressful, because we had to film it in one day instead of the planned two days (long story) so all the scenes had to be done quick and we had to move on to the next scene/location before we lost any daylight. I loved working with my longtime friend from high school Pete Jones who directed the trailer, and producer Judd Nissen really put the pieces together in such a quick timeframe I have no clue how he did it – I was really thankful for his expertise. Watching the Director of Photography Dean Bushala on set was amazing- he’s seriously a genius with a camera and I’d love to work with him again. If you were there, you wouldn’t know it was just a book trailer- you would have thought you’d walked on set of a major motion picture.
The covers of the Perfect Chemistry books definitely add to their appeal and the cover of Chain Reaction is by far the hottest. What did you think when you first saw it?
I thought the cover for Chain Reaction was hot, and I loved that Nikki looked Hispanic, but I didn’t know how I’d incorporate that shower cover scene into the book. I got the cover before I wrote the book, which is the same thing that happened to me with Rules of Attraction. I love the covers for the Perfect Chemistry series – they’re edgy and sexy just like the books!
Now that the Perfect Chemistry trilogy is completed what can your fans expect next?
I’m going to be writing a story about a girl who falls for a boy who just came out of rehab. The story will hit close to home, because when I was a senior in high school I met and started dating a boy who’d just come out of rehab and had been an alcoholic/drug addict since he was 12 years old. It will not be auto-biographical, but I assure you a lot of it will be first-hand knowledge of what it’s like to date a recovering alcoholic/drug addict as a teen. I still remember going to Cocaine Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings before our dates. The boy taught me how to live hard, laugh hard, and love hard –something I still carry to this day. I probably wouldn’t be writing romance if it weren’t for that relationship, where I loved so deeply and our relationship became so intense the boy became part of my soul.