Monday, December 5, 2011

Review of Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Title: Leaving Paradise
Author: Simone Elkeles
Published by: Flux
Pages: 303
Source: Bought
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★★★

Summary from Goodreads 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.

One of things I love about Simone Elkeles's books is that she always seems to have a bad boy in them.  They are usually not your typical bad boy.  Sure they are dangerous and often break the law, but they have redeeming qualities to them that capture your heart.

Caleb is no exception.  After a year in jail he expects to go back to Paradise and have everything be the same.  The only thing he doesn't realize is that it can never be the same because he's changed too.  At first I wasn't sure about Caleb.  I felt like he didn't learn anything in jail and thought crippling someone was no big deal, but there was still something about him.  He had guts and charisma.  As I got to know more about him, I soon fell in love.  I only wish I knew someone in real life as surprising as he turns out to be.

Maggie I felt sorry for.  She had a great life going for her and then she gets hit by a car that her best friend's brother is driving.  Her life falls apart.  She's in the hospital and rehab missing her entire junior year.  I wanted to hold this girl throughout the story.  I think I would have self-wallowed a lot more than she did.  I would have had so much anger inside that I'm surprised it didn't take her longer to get the fight back into her.  I was happy when that flame returned to her and replaced some of the insecurity.

I was captivated by this story.  I read it in one sitting and finished it late into the night.  It was one of those books that you just couldn't put down until you were finished.  It was almost as if it energized me late into the night instead of letting the tiredness overtake me. 

If you are a Simone Elkeles fan, you'll definitely enjoy Caleb and Maggie and their journey together.  However, if you read this book I suggest having Return to Paradise on hand because the ending of Leaving Paradise will leave you dissatisfied and needing to know the rest of their story. 


  1. I have never read a book written by this author, but I have heard great things about this book. It was on my wishlist for a long time, but I decided to delete it from it. I know, right? Stupid. I should def. check it out. I love bad boys. :)

  2. I really need to read all of her books one of these days - I have them all but haven't read a single one.

  3. I almost bought this one the other day! I really want to read it. I'm so glad you liked the story! Her books are SO addictive!

    Great review!

  4. I can't believe I call myself a Simone Elkeles fan, but I've only read 3 of her books. *fails*

    I've been wondering about this book since seeing the cover, but I wasn't exactly sure what it was about. WOW! Now I want to hold Maggie too. Thanks for the warning. I'll make sure to have both books at the ready.

  5. I actually liked the ambiguous ending in Leaving Paradise and was a little disappointed with Return to Paradise. Leaving Paradise is my favorite Elkeles book though. I really loved it.


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