Review From User :
This novel was fantastic, it was wonderful, it blew me away! After I finished reading it, I wanted to read it again... something in the story just really got to me. If I had to describe it I'd say it's like Pretty in Pink meets West Side Story. You know Pretty in Pink, awesome 80's movie starring Molly Ringwald, rich guy falling for the poor girl on the other side of the tracks... West Side Story, forbidden love in the most extreme.
It's obvious that Elkeles did her homework with this one. The gang dynamic is terrifyingly real. I will admit that initially I was worried. I didn't think there was any way that she could spin a character that's a gang member to be likeable, a hero even. I mean when I think of gangs, it's drugs, drive-by's, you know extremly shady things, how can that be appealing at any level. And yet Alex was. He was a "good" guy, he was that tragic hero.
And Brittany, her character was even more complex that I think the novel even revealed. She seemed so real, it felt like I knew her, or someone like her. And despite the apparent differences between the two characters, they were so much more alike than I would have ever guessed. It still seems impossible and yet I've seen it!
The chapters are alternated between Alex and Brittany, and I was so happy for that. I loved being able to glimpse into each of their heads and really understand what they were thinking and how they were effected by each other. Had the story not been told that way, I don't think I would have enjoyed it as much. I think that is what won Alex over for me, because I got to see how he struggled with the life that he didn't want.
Elkeles writing was so smooth.... like butta. It just flowed right of the page, it was like I wasn't even reading... I was there. I was Brittany, I was Alex. It was powerful. *goose bumps*
On the surface it may read like a love story but there is so much more going on. It's a story of life lessons. Don't judge a person by the color of their skin, don't judge a person by the way that they look, talk, where they live.... I could go on. But I'll stop there, and leave you with the recommendation to pick it up.
I'm really looking forward to what Elkeles has in store for us next.
Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research–and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life.
Expand text… But there’s another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can’t make a life before finding success on her own.
Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind. And for the first time, she’s confronted with a question she won’t find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want? Over the next two years, this winningly flawed, disarmingly insightful heroine learns the formulas and equations for a different kind of chemistry–one in which the reactions can’t be quantified, measured, and analyzed; one that can be studied only in the mysterious language of the heart. Taking us deep inside her scattered, searching mind, here is a brilliant new literary voice that astutely juxtaposes the elegance of science, the anxieties of finding a place in the world, and the sacrifices made for love and family.