I'm an eighteen-year old two-faced Filipina extrovert who has been living in the pages of books for two years now. I expertize in warped logic and extreme criticism.
3 out of 5 stars.
The ending was okay and it even had me saying, "Aww!". But this book just has so much going on it irritated me. I don't think I love this story neither do I hate it. I give it a 3-star rating because I have a love-hate relationship with it.
The story follows two unlikely people, a pompom queen who lives a lavish life and a gang member who has to work at his cousin's auto shop to help provide his family's needs. Brittany, the female protagonist, has lived her life trying to be perfect for everyone's satisfaction. Turns out she has more to keep to herself. Her sister is a celebral palsy patient and this fact alone ruins the "perfect" facade she and her parents had kept up for years. Alex, on the other hand, is a Latino gang member who joined the gang only because he wanted to protect his family after his dad was shot when he was six.
I know, what a cliché, right? It's the typical rich girl-poor guy love story, needless to say the perfect girl-bad boy situation. I must say there's just too much stereotyping and banality in this story. Here's a list:
1. Latino gang member. I'm not American and I haven't been to the US either. But movies have taught me about gangs there and I know for sure that there are indeed Latino gang members. My point is, not all Latinos are gang members and not all gang members are Latinos. I know for a fact that there are White, Black and Asian gang members as well. And the fact that ONLY Latinos were considered gang members in this story, my question is: "Can't the male protagonist be a gang member without NECESSARILY BEING A LATINO?" Because surely, that's how it was put in the book. I suggest you watch "Freedom Writers" to have a better insight on the diversity in gangs.
2. Cheer leading captain and football star, a couple. Whoops! Tell me a story that isn't about a cheer leader dating the "heroic" quarterback. To be honest, I'm just so sick and tired of this "worn out scenario". And then there's this co-captain "best friend" who steals her boyfriend afterwards and almost everything from her because she's little miss perfect. Bring it On, anyone? Can't it at least be original?
3. Rich girl "imposing" a perfect life. This one's not much of a complain. I completely understand that Brit has to live a perfect life because her parents, especially her mom, are one heck of control freaks just because they can't get over the fact that their first daughter is "disabled" (that's how it was put in the book) so they want the other one to make up for such "imperfection". I get, I totally get it. But this situation's mostly been present in other books and even movies. I want more substance!
4. Judgmental brats. I don't get why most authors nowadays find the NEED to make their protagonist's friends as brats who judge people that are "financially inferior" to them. So they're well-off, but does that mean they have to regard people who can't afford designer clothes like them as if they're lepers? Why can't there be a "sidekick" who actually has the brain, enough to understand that money doesn't reflect a person's character? This kind of illustration of what most people are today in books is just so sickening. What, just for the sake of having a plot? Oh please, there're a lot out there that you could use as a plot.
5. Typical "I don't like you for my daughter because you have a questionable reputation and you're parents aren't loaded." and "I don't like you for my son because you're rolling in it and bloated people like you are heartbreakers." Again, another depiction of today's society, ladies and gentlemen. I want something original. People have already had enough of this lame bullcrap regarding social status discrimination. The last thing we want is it being rubbed on our faces over and over again.
There's one more thing I hated about this book: Brittany. She's nothing but a spoiled brat and a hypocrite. I used to pity her, used to. At one point she makes Alex choose her over his gang. That's kind of normal given that Alex's life is at stake as well but so is his family's. Even if Alex tries so hard to explain to her that he can't because it'll mean his family's lives, she actually reasons out that she had jeopardized her friends and family for him so he has to do the same. If I were in her shoes and I had to keep up with a family and friends like that, what I wouldn't give to be finally free of them! She just proves to him what people had always thought of her: a blondie who gets everything she wants regardless of whatever's at stake, as long as she gets whatever she wants.
And she ORDERS him to change into someone he hadn't needed to be before she barged in to his life! If some girls complain about guys wanting them to be perfect, well Brittany is just the female version of those guys, which makes her a hypocrite.
Some people may argue that maybe it's because it was how she was trained at home, to be perfect and presentable to other people. That's the point, my friends. She says she hates how her parents order her around, how they control her life, how she's supposed to show a perfect life to the people at school even if sometimes she just wants to let her secrets out. As someone who has suffered this kind of torture, shouldn't she be the first one to understand that people are human thus flawed? Isn't that why she fell for Alex in the first place? Because despite his imperfections she still sees something in him that makes the tables turn? Isn't that what this story's trying to relay to us? That love is about acceptance, that when you love someone, you also love their weaknesses, shortcomings and flaws? Please enlighten me because I certainly didn't see that in Brit. More than half of the book she's embarrassed of Alex, she's scared that he might ruin her reputation, she wants him to be someone he clearly isn't. Even if they're already dating she still can't digest that she's dating a gang member.
Plus Brit's an imbecile. What kind of girl does not get mad even the slightest bit even after she sees a picture of her boyfriend and another girl? Sure she confronts him for this while they're about to have sex but just one sentence of denial and she lets him slip off and suck on her breasts? And it's crystal clear that her friends are fake because they insult her judgments and choices upfront and she's still okay with that?! One's already backstabbing her, no, stabbing her in the chest and she still calls her a friend? I don't know what kind of head she has but it's obviously not a good one.
One more thing, I hated the fast transition among the scenes. One second, they're living a good life, the next, Alex is already talking about his gang and crap. At one point I find myself confused at whatever's already happening.
There are just two things I loved about this book: the humor and the portrayal of gang situations. Elkeles sure knows how to portray a gang member's life. She knows her terms and whatever's happening in a gang.
All in all it's an okay read. There are just too many flaws and head-shaking for me to concentrate on the story.