By: Simone Elkeles
Published By: Walker Childrens
Publication Date: April 2010
Page Count: 324
Source: Purchased By Reviewer
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary
It's been awhile since I read this one, but I decided a review was long overdue since I LOVED it. Simone Elkeles has a special talent for crafting amazingly flawed characters and romances that sizzle. The Fuentes brothers really are a special group of characters that will always hold a place in my heart. I thought Alex was amazing, but Carlos definitely gives him a run for his money.
As with Perfect Chemistry, there is an element of the forbidden love. In many ways this series is the Romeo and Juliet of our time - minus the whole dying thing. Carlos is rough around the edges and he's headed for a life of trouble. Alex's solution is to bring him back to the States to join him in Colorado where he is attending college. Carlos is less than thrilled with this plan and things only get worse when he goes to live with the Westford family. The Westfords are like The Brady Bunch - everyone is perfect, well mannered, and enjoys spending time together. Carlos doesn't really fit into their lifestyle and does everything he can to alienate himself.
The Westfords have a daughter, Kiara, who spends much of her time trying to help Carlos adjust to his new school and home situation. Kiara is sheltered, innocent, and naive in so many ways. She's the total opposite of Carlos, but they still manage to find some common ground. As their feelings for one another begin to grow, they soon realize that sometimes opposites do attract. I love the relationship between Carlos and Kiara.
I love that Elkeles features Latinos in her novels. It's nice to see cultural diversity in a YA novel. I've said it before, but I think it's worth repeating - teens need to see someone like them in the literature they read. The world is not made up of one single race or culture. In fact, several of my former Latino students found a passion for reading because of this series.
Lastly, I love losing myself in Elkeles' books. The romance is sweet and realistic, but often contains some more mature situations. I love that the realness of these characters crawls out of the pages and seeps into your heart and mind. In many ways, I loved this novel more than the first one. Elkeles was one of the first contemporary writers to lure me in. She helped me see that I do enjoy reading things outside of the paranormal realm. I really need to reread the first two books and finally make time for book three!
One Last Gripe: I don't have one. This novel is one of my favorites!
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The romance
First Sentence: I want to live life on my own terms.
Favorite Character: Carlos
Least Favorite Character: Madison
When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for a year, he doesn’t want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him at a high school in Colorado. Carlos likes living his life on the edge and wants to carve his own path—just like Alex did. Then he meets Kiara Westford. She doesn’t talk much and is completely intimidated by Carlos’ wild ways. As they get to know one another, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she’s too good for him, and refuses to admit that she might be getting to him. But he soon realizes that being himself is exactly what Kiara needs right now.