Saturday, November 20, 2010

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Book review #60
Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Rating: Five stars
 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.

Like most people, I didn't know too much about Leaving Paradise before picking it up from the library. From the first few pages, I was hooked-the book didn't leave my hands unless it was absolutely necessary. With school and homework becoming a priority in my life, I don't have much time to blog, but no way I was going to not share the love and amazingness of Leaving Paradise. Finishing this book moments ago, raw, emotional, and honestly breathtaking are the only words that come into mind. 

The first half of the book was good, but didn't compare to the qualities and surprises the second half had in store. Leaving Paradise follows both Maggie and Caleb's point of view, starting with Caleb finally getting released from the juvenile detention center he's had to call home for the past year. Caleb is a hot, popular, average guy who had a little too much to drink one night, accidentally hitting Maggie Armstrong with his car. Maggie has the dreams of becoming a tennis star, is outgoing, and pretty popular, but ever since the accident she hasn't been the same. It took loads of physical therapy to get her leg back into shape, but she still has a limp. The only thing she looks forward to is going to Spain to leave Paradise (her town) and everything behind her. What she doesn't count on is Caleb being back in Paradise changing everything yet once again. Maggie and Caleb find themselves face to face, involuntary spending more time together; together they learn things aren't always what they seem.

Leaving Paradise is a love story, but not the typical love story most are used to. In fact there isn't anything ordinary about Leaving Paradise. Caleb and Maggie seem to have a normal relationship, but it's much more complicated and heartwarming then it looks from afar. A year after the accident, both characters have changed and grown; they find that each other are the only people that will ever understand. It's safe to say Simone Elkeles is one of the best writers out there. The connection she created by Caleb and Maggie flow so easily throughout the book.There are countless heartbreaking, emotional, honest moments making the reader almost frustrated. 

While Caleb and Maggie were wonderful characters, Mrs. Reynolds-the lady Caleb and Maggie both end up working with, brings sunshine to the novel. She helps both of them accept themselves for who they are. Anyone with a person like Mrs.Reynolds in their lives are very lucky. 

Leaving Paradise let me escape from my own hectic life for a little bit, as  I was completely absorbed in what was happening at all times. The ending wasn't my favorite, but lucky me the sequel is already out! I can't wait to see what's going to happen with Caleb and Maggie. Leaving Paradise is one of the best books I've read in awhile, if not this year. Pick up a copy immediately, you won't regret it :)


Melissa said...

Awesome review, Sara! I really enjoyed Leaving Paradise and going on this journey with Maggie and Caleb. It was definitely a heartfelt read :)

Katie said...

Ooooh, this sounds like such a wonderful love story! I have read any really good lovey books for a while. Maybe this one will be next :) PS: I loved seeing Along for the Ride pop up on my blog roll again!

Blueicegal ♥ said...

lovely review Sara i loved this book! look forward to the sequel to, great to see you back i have missed you girl :)

Anonymous said...

Yay! Super glad to see you liked this one. :D

Jamie said...

So glad to "see" you!!

I've been wanting to read these books forever. Must. get to them. quicker!

Bere said...

Brilliant review, Sara! This is the first review I read on Leaving Paradise and you have made me want to pick this one up ASAP. This one sounds really amazing. I will definitely added it to my wishlist. Thanks so much, Sara! =]