Alex is a Mexicano, a poor kid from the south side of Fairfield with gang tattoos and a reputation to match. Brittany, the head cheerleader, is white and rich and beautiful. They could never be together... or could they?
After they're matched up - unwillingly - for their chemistry class, they start to learn things about each other. Things like the fact that Brittany's "perfect" life is inches from chaos, as her mother is on the verge of a nervous breakdown, her father is never home, and her older sister has cerebral palsy. Things like the fact that Alex doesn't want to be in a gang, doesn't want to deal drugs or hurt people; he only wants to protect his family. Slowly they discover a growing respect for each other... and maybe more.
This is a little, maybe even a lot, out of my usual genres, but I still liked it. A little predictable, maybe, but a nice and exciting and even funny at times book. And I have to mention, that cover is basically awesome. I don't even know why I love it so much, but it's the best cover I've seen in ages. Seriously.
I was a little underwhelmed by the plot - hello, Romeo and Juliet/West Side Story, again - but Elkeles does manage to pull it off to a certain extent. And I did like the ending, even if I could see it coming two hundred pages away.
I liked Brittany. She's quite an impressive protagonist. Alex is nice too, although I didn't connect with him quite as much. The really good thing about the characters in this story is not the characters themselves - although they certainly hold their own - but their interactions with each other. Brittany's relationship with Colin, particularly, really shone; it was the best example of a brilliantly written failing relationship I've seen in a while. Completely realistic.
Elkeles does a great job of giving his protagonist distinctive voices. Really the only thing I disliked about the writing was the continual gushing about how hott Brittany/Alex are. Okay, we get it, he's got abs. Okay, we get it, she's got perfect hair. Move on.
Besides the gushy bits, though, Elkeles is a really talented writer who manages to make two very disparate worlds and two very different people come together in a completely believable way.
End Result: three stars. A decent book, but not amazingly excellent.