Lisa Reviews: Simone Elkeles - "Leaving Paradise"

Come one, come all!! Welcome to my review of Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles!

Gulping down the three books in the Perfect Chemistry series (Perfect Chemistry, Rules of Attraction and Chain Reaction), I still didn’t have enough. I loved Simone Elkeles, her writings style, and the way she built relationships between her characters. On my hunt for more, I learned that she had another series out called Leaving Paradise, which I was dying to get my hands on!

“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.”

Leaving Paradise changes points of view in every chapter, going back and forth between the two main characters, Maggie and Caleb, which allowed the reader to really get into their heads, see what they’re thinking and learn what the truth is.

Having spent the last few months in juvenile prison, due to the accident, Caleb’s release day had finally arrived, but upon his arrival, nothing is the same. Not his sister, who has gone Goth and barely talks to him, his dad who doesn’t take the lead, nor his mom, who is doing drugs.

Just like Caleb, Maggie’s life has changed from a year ago. After months of being in the hospital and physical therapy, Maggie is finally out of her wheelchair and is able to walk again, but now with a limp.

Hearing that Caleb is back in town, Maggie starts to worry, and both try their best to avoid one another. But staying away from someone, who lives in the same small town, and goes to the same school, can be pretty hard to do.  Maggie and Caleb both start working for the same elderly lady; Maggie doing any housework that Ms Reynolds needs help with, and Caleb building her a gazebo in her backyard.

Spending so much time together, and having no one else to turn to with their pain, the two become very close, and two people who hated and blamed each, gradually come to have feelings for one another.

Simone Elkeles always has romantic twists for her characters as well as her readers. Instead of being “love at first sight”, its hate, common ground, and then finally love, which is what I really like about this series, and the Perfect Chemistry series. I feel that real love isn’t at first sight, it happens gradually over time.

Both Maggie and Caleb were easy to relate to, and down to earth. They act like normal teenagers would, especially in such a situation; they aren’t over dramatic, or too love-dovey, which is one of the biggest reasons why I enjoyed reading more and more about them.

The book does leave off with a little bit of a cliff-hanger, because Caleb has yet to confess the truth about the night of the accident, but it’s a great stepping stone into the second book, Return To Paradise!

The story was fantastic, the two main characters were perfect, and I absolutely loved the ending and the way things worked out for Maggie and Caleb! Overall the book was good, and finishing it up, I am excited to read Return To Paradise.

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