Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Simone Elkeles  

Pen Name: Simone Schlechter


Audience: Adult; Young Adult;

Born: 1970 in Chicago, Illinois

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Illinois Connection

Elkeles was born and raised in the Chicago area and graduated from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Loyola University. She currently resides in Buffalo Grove.

Biographical and Professional Information

Simone Elkeles is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of novels for teens. Simone’s books have won many awards including being YALSA Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, being named to the YALSA Popular Paperbacks and Teens Top Ten lists. Simone also won the coveted RITA award from the Romance Writers of America for her book ''Perfect Chemistry''. Simone is especially proud of the fact that the Illinois Association of Teachers of English named her Author of the Year.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

How to Ruin a Summer Vacation (How to Ruin a Summer Vacation Novel)
ISBN: 0738709611

Flux. 2006

YALSA 2007 Teens’ Top Ten

"A breezy read." ―Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

“Fresh, fun and fabulous! Guaranteed NOT to ruin your summer vacation!” ―Mari Mancusi, author of Boys that Bite

How To Ruin a Summer Vacation

Moshav? What’s a moshav? Is it “shopping mall” in Hebrew? I mean, from what Jessica was telling me, Israeli stores have the latest fashions from Europe. That black dress Jessica has is really awesome. I know I’d be selling out if I go to a mall with Ron (my biological father), but I keep thinking about all the great stuff I could bring back home.

Unfortunately for 16-year-old Amy Nelson, “moshav” is not Hebrew for “shopping mall.” Not even close. Think goats, not Gucci.

Going to Israel with her estranged Israeli father is the last thing Amy wants to do this summer. She’s got a serious grudge against her dad for showing up so rarely in her life. Now he’s dragging her to a war zone to meet a family she’s never known, where she’ll probably be drafted into the army. At the very least, she’ll be stuck in a house with no AC and only one bathroom for seven people all summer―no best friend, no boyfriend, no shopping, no cell phone…

Goodbye pride―hello Israel.

How to Ruin My Teenage Life (How to Ruin a Summer Vacation Novel)
ISBN: 0738710199

Flux. 2007

In this sequel to How to Ruin a Summer Vacation, EVERYTHING in sixteen-year-old Amy Nelson Barak’s life is going wrong! Her mom got married and moved to the suburbs, and now they are going to have a baby. Amy moves in with her dad in Chicago and signs him up for an online dating service. His first four dates are that night . . .

What else? Her dog Mutt impregnated her grumpy neighbor’s prized poodle, so Amy will actually have to get a part-time job to pay for half the veterinary bill. And there’s this totally annoying boy, Nathan Rubin, who just moved into her apartment building. Luckily, Amy has a cute boyfriend named Avi. Only he’s more like a non-boyfriend considering Avi is in the Israeli army for the next three years.

What’s a girl to do when everyone is conspiring to ruin her life?

How to Ruin Your Boyfriend's Reputation (How to Ruin a Summer Vacation Novel)
ISBN: 0738718793

Flux. 2009

"A great read-alike for fans of
Meg Cabot, Melissa Kantor,
and Sarah Dessen."

Guess who’s jetting off to the Holy Land this summer!

Yes, it’s me―Amy Nelson-Barak. I’ve volunteered for ten days of military training in Israel with my friends. The Sababa brochure said it would be a “fun” summer experience. Okay, so I didn’t sign up to prove I’m not a princess…I did it to surprise my hot Israeli boyfriend stationed at the same base.

Too bad nobody told me:

- It’s hot in the Negev desert…like, so hot your makeup melts off and you get under-boob sweat spots.

- You can’t sleep in until 11 a.m.

- You shouldn’t kill bees with your flatiron―don’t ask.

- Peeing in a hole isn’t easy (when you’re a girl)―double don’t ask.

When I find out our team leader is my boyfriend Avi, I’m totally psyched…until I learn he has to treat me like all the other recruits. Can you say OY VEY!

Leaving Paradise (A Leaving Paradise Novel)
ISBN: 0738710180

Flux. 2007

Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel, and hit Maggie Armstrong. Even after months of painful physical therapy, Maggie walks with a limp. Her social life is nil and a scholarship to study abroad―her chance to escape everyone and their pitying stares―has been canceled.

After a year in juvenile jail, Caleb’s free . . . if freedom means endless nagging from a transition coach and the prying eyes of the entire town. Coming home should feel good, but his family and ex-girlfriend seem like strangers.

Caleb and Maggie are outsiders, pigeon-holed as "criminal" and "freak." Then the truth emerges about what really happened the night of the accident and, once again, everything changes. It’s a bleak and tortuous journey for Caleb and Maggie, yet they end up finding comfort and strength from a surprising source: each other.

Return to Paradise (A Leaving Paradise Novel)
ISBN: 0738718688

Flux. 2010

Available Now!

Flux's First New York Times Bestseller!

From the New York Times Bestselling Author of RULES OF ATTRACTION Comes the Sequel to LEAVING PARADISE

Caleb Becker left Paradise eight months ago, taking with him the secret he promised to take to his grave. If the truth got out, it would ruin everything.

Maggie Armstrong tried to be strong after Caleb broke her heart and disappeared. Somehow, she managed to move on. She’s determined to make a new life for herself.

But then Caleb and Maggie are forced together on a summer trip. They try ignoring their passion for each other, but buried feelings resurface. Caleb must face the truth about the night of Maggie’s accident, or the secret that destroyed their relationship will forever stand between them.

Praise for Leaving Paradise:

"Elkeles writes convincingly about family tensions, retreating from painful reality, and teens outgrowing their old skins."―School Library Journal

"Elkeles creates raw emotions, dialogue, and high-school ambience that’s just right… [A] delicate, delicious love story."―Booklist

Perfect Chemistry (A Perfect Chemistry Novel)
ISBN: 0802798225

Walker Childrens. 2008

A fresh, urban twist on the classic tale of star-crossed lovers.

When Brittany Ellis walks into chemistry class on the first day of senior year, she has no clue that her carefully created "perfect" life is about to unravel before her eyes. She's forced to be lab partners with Alex Fuentes, a gang member from the other side of town, and he is about to threaten everything she's worked so hard for―her flawless reputation, her relationship with her boyfriend, and the secret that her home life is anything but perfect. Alex is a bad boy and he knows it. So when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it. But soon Alex realizes Brittany is a real person with real problems, and suddenly the bet he made in arrogance turns into something much more.

In a passionate story about looking beneath the surface, Simone Elkeles breaks through the stereotypes and barriers that threaten to keep Brittany and Alex apart.

Rules of Attraction (A Perfect Chemistry Novel)
ISBN: 0802722903

Walker Childrens. 2011

When Carlos Fuentes returns to America after living in Mexico for the past year, he doesn't want any part of the life his older brother, Alex, has laid out for him in Colorado. When he meets Kiara Westford, a good girl totally unlike any of the girls he's usually drawn to, Carlos assumes Kiara thinks she's too good for him. But will he put his pride aside when he realizes that being with Kiara might finally allow him to be his true self?

Chain Reaction (A Perfect Chemistry Novel)
ISBN: 0802727980

Walker Childrens. 2012

Luis Fuentes is a good boy who doesn't live with the angst that his big brothers, Alex and Carlos, have always lived with. Luis is smart, funny, and has big dreams of becoming an astronaut. But when he falls for the wrong girl, Luis enters a dark world he's never known, and just when he thinks he's got life all figured out, learns some disturbing news about his family that destroys his positive outlook on life. Will that Fuentes bad boy streak come out with a vengeance and lure Luis to live on the edge like his new girlfriend and his own father?Continuing all the steamy romance of the first two books, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Simone Elkeles gives fans one more satisfying taste of the irresistible Fuentes boys.Book Details:Format: PaperbackPublication Date: 10/30/2012Pages: 320Reading Level: Age 14 and Up

Better Than Perfect (Wild Cards)
ISBN: 0802737250

Bloomsbury USA Childrens. 2014

A fresh and fun repackage of Wild Cards, Better Than Perfect launches a romantic new series from New York Times bestselling author Simone Elkeles.
After getting kicked out of boarding school, bad boy Derek Fitzpatrick has no choice but to live with his ditzy stepmother while his military dad is deployed. Things quickly go from bad to worse when he finds out she plans to move them back to her childhood home in Illinois. Derek's counting the days before he can be on his own, and the last thing he needs is to get involved with someone else's family drama.
Ashtyn Parker knows one thing for certain―people you care about leave without a backward glance. So when her older sister comes home after abandoning her ten years earlier, with her hot new stepson in tow, Ashtyn wants nothing to do with either of them. Then she comes up with a plan that would finally give her the chance to leave, but it requires trusting Derek―someone she barely knows, someone born to break the rules. Is she willing to put her heart on the line to try and get the future she wants?

Wild Crush (Wild Cards) (Volume 2)
ISBN: 1620511959

NLA Digital LLC. 2015

When the only girl you want is the one you can't have... Bad boy Vic Salazar breaks all the rules except one: Don't make a move on your best friend's girl. It’s a Guy Code that Vic lives by. It doesn't matter that he's had a crush on her for years. Monika Fox is off limits. Monika has a secret of her own and when a tragedy throws her and Vic together, the only boy she trusts is the one she shouldn’t confide in. Vic. As Vic struggles to keep his distance, and Monika struggles with her secrets, will their wild connection violate every rule both vowed never to break—about relationships, about friendship, about love?


How to Ruin


  • Popular Paperback for Young Adults, YALSA, 2013
  • Illinois Read for a Lifetime Reading List, 2008 2009
  • Teens Top Ten List, YALSA, 2007
  • Silver medal in Multicultural Childrens fiction, IPPY, 2007
  • Finalist, Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence Contest
  • Finalist, National Readers Choice Awards
  • Finalist, Aspen Gold Book Awards
  • Remarkable Reads, School Library Journal
  • Winner, Chick Lit Stiletto Contest, 2004
  • Young Adult book on the Anti-Defamation League website
  • Leaving Paradise


  • Abraham Lincoln Illinois High School Book Award list, 2010
  • RITA Award Finalist for Young Adult Romance, 2008
  • 2007 Summer Picks List, Book Sense
  • Perfect Chemistry


  • ILLINOIS READS Book Selection, Illinois Reading Council, 2013
  • New York Times Bestselling Series
  • Switzerland Bookstar Award, 2012
  • Popular Paperback for Young Adults, YALSA, 2012
  • Eliot Rosewater Book Award, Indiana High School, 2011-2012
  • Abraham Lincoln Award List, 2011
  • Top Ten Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Readers, YALSA, 2010
  • RITA award winner for Best Young Adult Romance, Romance Writers of America, 2010
  • Kentucky Bluegrass High School Book Award List, 2010
  • Pennsylvania Young Readers Choice Award in the YA division, 2010-2011
  • DAMA Award - Best Young Adult Romance in Spanish, Club Romantica, 2010

    Body of Work

  • Illinois Author of the Year, Illinois Association of Teachers of English, 2008

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

    Elkeles is represented by Kristin Nelson at the Nelson.

    For school visits

    , contact


    Letters can be mailed to

    318 Half Day Road #331 Buffalo Grove, IL 60089