Leaving Paradise Review

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wow, my blogging schedule is totally off this week...I promise I'll be back to normal next week! I'm skipping my Waiting on Wednesday this week to put up my review of my most recent read, Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles.

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 pitystares-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 torjourney for Caleb and Maggie, yet they end up finding comfort and strength from a surprising source: each other.
Taken from GoodReads.

I'd never read a review of this book when I found it at the bookstore, but I enjoyed the simplicity and poignancy of the cover. Sometimes it isn't the colour, or the detail that intrigues me, but rather the lack thereof. Either way, when I read the back of the book, I was hooked, and I had to read it!

Leaving Paradise follows the story of both Maggie and Caleb, beginning on the day before Caleb's release from Juvenile Detention. He's been in prison for one year for hitting Maggie with his car while driving drunk. The accident crushed her leg, her morale, her dreams, and all ambitions she had of being a tennis star. These days, she's content to be a self-deprecating loner with only one dream - leave her hometown of Paradise forever. When Caleb returns though, her world is turned upside down. To fund her escape to Spain, Maggie begins working with an elderly woman who turns out to be employing Caleb, as well. Through this chance meeting, Maggie and Caleb discover that feeling pain can be worth feeling love later, and not everything is as simple, cut, and dried as it may seem.

I absolutely loved this book. Written from Maggie and Caleb's POVs by chapter, it allows us to see into both of their minds. I usually don't like wimpy, self-loathing characters, but Simone Elkeles uses such traits beautifully, allowing us to actually feel Maggie's pain. Caleb, angry and volatile after a year in prison, seems deeply unhappy, and the reasons why (when revealed) will stun you. This book is artfully crafted, and it's one of the best I've read in a while. That said, I was soooo disappointed with the ending. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't what I'd hoped at all. I give this a 4.5 out of 5 only because the ending let me down!

In other news...please stay tuned...I have an amazing author interview tomorrow, and I think you're going to love it! :)


  1. LOVED your review - I know what you mean about the ending but there's gonna be another one in the series - WOOT!!! I am soo excited! :D

  2. cool...looking forward to the interview!

  3. Amazing review! I still have to read Perfect Chemistry but it looks like Simone Elkeles is a great writer :D

  4. I was the same way about the ending of this book. I couldn't believe that was it! Thankfully, there's another book in the series. Yay!

  5. I'm glad you loved it, but too bad about the ending. I've been wanting to read this one for a while and I will soon! Great review :)

  6. This book sounds really good. I'm looking forward to the interview tomorrow!

  7. I loved this book. There's going to be a sequel so maybe that will offer you more closure seeing as you weren't a huge fan of the ending. :)

  8. Great review! I LOVE Simon Elkeles, and I definitely agree Leaving Paradise was awesome (though, shh, Perfect Chemistry was better). I'll be looking forward to that interview! :D

  9. Thanks for the recommend. I'm going to read it.

  10. Your review is totally awesome! Wow, I wasn't sure if this one would be a good read, but now I'm convinced. I'm going to read this one for sure!

    Thanks for the review :)

  11. Oh I can't wait to read this one. I absolutely loved Perfect Chemistry!

  12. Looks so good! I love Simone Elkeles writing. Adding to my list! (Which is a mile long...)

  13. This looks like a really good book! Great review! :)

  14. This one sounds awesome, I haven't heard of it, even though I've heard of the author. Sounds intense!!

  15. The cover for this one is simple yet striking, I like it too.
    This was a good book that really made me think about things.

    Brandi from Blkosiner’s Book Blog


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