Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Review: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Title: Leaving Paradise 
Series: Leaving Paradise Series
Book #: One 
Author: Simone Elkeles  
Published: 2010
Source: Local Library 
Rating:  [Five+Pink+Hearts.jpg]

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. (taken from
Having had one of my close friends recommend this book to me, and after reading 
Elkeles’ amazing Perfect Chemistry, I knew I was going to like this book from the very beginning. Elkeles’ writing is raw and emotional, making even the lightest of scenes intense and dramatic. I simply couldn’t get enough!

What a premise. I can’t even imagine a more unlikely couple. How could you possibly fall for the person that ruined your life? Still, Elkeles makes it work in an entirely believable (and romantic) way. Maggie’s pain had me wincing in sympathy, and I bonded with her over her insecurities. Caleb, on the other hand, is enthralling. His jail-hardened personality has a soft underside, full of protectiveness for those he loves and a pride that goes way past being your average teenage guy.

When Caleb and Maggie are together, there is a passion and depth of understanding that amazed me. I couldn’t contain my excitement at points; I was so wrapped up in the story. Their love is both fervent and cute, something that is hard for many authors to achieve.

There are so many other elements at work in Leaving Paradise, besides Maggie and Caleb’s relationship. Don’t get me wrong, that was definitely my favorite part, but I also enjoyed seeing Maggie’s personality grow as she realizes that life goes on, even after an accident. Caleb’s home life is in shambles, and I was proud of him as he took the high road and tried to right his wrongs.

Leaving Paradise is a masterpiece, full of heartache and forgiveness. The ending nearly had me in tears, and I am EXTREMELY anxious to get my hands on the sequel, Return to Paradise. I’m not sure how long I can wait to find out what happens to the characters! 


Morgan said...

Great review! I absolutely love this book as well. Return to Paradise is really good too so can't wait to see your review for the sequel

fakesteph said...

I loved perfect chemistry! I totally have to read this! :)

Cindy said...

I cannot wait to read this, I have seen so many great reviews on it and I am glad to see you enjoyed it so much. I like books that cause readers to get teary eyed, and this one sounds like it will make me cry. Great review! :)