By Simone Elkeles.
This book is the sequel to Perfect Chemistry, a book I'll probably get around to reviewing one of these days, so I'm kind of leaving this sentence as a placeholder for when I eventually do. Having not quite read the first book but having the general gist of what it's about, I wonder if readers of this book are pretty much here for a replay of the first one. Which in a way it is. Or at least, it's a similar setup of "Mexican gangster guy and middle class white girl get together, but the gang stuff is a big problem to the relationship." But it's an enjoyable read anyway.
The scenario: a couple of years after Perfect Chemistry, Alex and Brittany are going to college in Colorado. Alex's family has moved to Mexico, but his brother Carlos is being shipped back to Alex after getting canned from his factory job. Carlos is, of course, in a gang down there. Alex's professor has a teenage daughter Carlos's age, Kiera, who gets tapped to be his peer guide for his first week at school. Carlos is very heavily invested in being a delinquent and Kiera is not terribly into that. But after a week at school, someone frames Carlos by putting drugs in his locker, leading to him getting arrested and being put into an after-school counseling program. Alex's school also finds out that a non-student is living there, so Professor Westford becomes Carlos's guardian for the year and he moves in there. Much to Carlos's surprise, he finds himself liking the Westford family life...and their daughter in particular. (One has to give massive props to the dad for coping with that in a mature, reasonable manner. Most men would not be so cool.) Carlos didn't narc on who he thought did it (though figuring out who isn't too hard), but it turns out that another gang leader wants to recruit him. Whether Carlos wants to be or not, and they'll kill his family in Mexico if he refuses. And he's worried about what will happen to the Westfords too.
It's an sweet relationship between the two leads. I suspect it might replay similarly to what Alex and Brittany went through (those two are mostly off screen a lot, though you do find out how their relationship is going), but hey, it's fun. If there's any quibbles I have about this, it's that I kind of wonder if Carlos's gang situation wrapped up a bit too easily. Not that I know jack about gangs, but there's one "hm, really? Isn't that convenient?" sort of thing that goes on that seemed... well, easy. So it made me wonder.
Anyway, four stars.