Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Leaving Paradise: Simone Elkeles


Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk and crashed into Maggie Armstrong. One year later, both teenagers have become outsiders in their small community. Pigeon-holed as "criminal" and "freak," Caleb and Maggie end up finding comfort and strength from a surprising source: each other.


I applaud the idea behind the story and certainly fell for Caleb but I have to admit, the actual execution of this story paled for me. There were several twists and unexpected surprises which did pull this one up to four stars and overall, the characters at their bases were great. Maggie with her scars- both outward and inward- and Caleb with his mistakes and trying to figure out how to come back from it but their actual development just wasn't there.

Much of the realizations they had seemed to just come all of a sudden as though it seemed to fit. The first real time they are alone together, despite their worries and fears and hesitations, they just suddenly seemed to click and everything was momentarily alright. Things went back to being hard, then all of a sudden were good again- it was very on and off with little explanation for it. This probably is partly because the chapters alternate between their perspectives and normally, I love when books do that but this is one where it actually seemed to take away from the story for me. Instead of seeing both of them growing and moving towards something, you saw part of one character do it then watched the other character finish. Individually, it all felt rushed and forced for me.

As I said, the idea is strong and much if it was carried out pretty well in terms of overall development- its the characters themselves that took away from it all. I think the characters started out strong and even finished strong but it was how they made that jump that was jumpy and often times I had to stop reading to try to figure out how they went from being scared of each other one minute to locked at the lips the next.

My understanding is there will be a sequel to this book set to come out this year but I am not sure how I feel about that. I loved the ending of this book- that is one other thing that pushed this up to 4 stars for me. It is bittersweet but completely suitable, given the events that happened. A sequel can either amp everything up or completely ruin it but if it is just to give these characters a more specific happily ever after, I think it will end up doing the latter rather than the former. This ending was perfeect for me.

This is a quick read, decently written for the voices it must take on though I felt their actual proof of growth and development was definitely lacking in realism and leaned more towards it just needed to happen to make things work so it did. The storyline is relatively unique and has a few oustanding twists that will stick in my mind for a good while. More embellishment and time for the characters to really adjust to everything would have made this much better and more believable and though I was a little disappointed, I still found myself wanting to keep turning the pages and find out more.

Other Reviews:

Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf
Just Your Typical Book Blog
A Life Bound By Books


  1. you just reminded me of the one major twist in this story. I couldn't believe it either. I love this book and can't wait for the sequel! :)

  2. I haven't read this one. I had heard that a lot of readers weren't happy with the ending and I wasn't sure about giving it a try. However, I have read her other novel Perfect Chemistry and absolutely loved it!

  3. Great review! I also enjoyed this book, however I see you're reading Perfect that book is 10x better than Leaving Paradise, look forward to your review! :P

  4. Great review! I still need to read this one, though I just read Perfect Chemistry, which was AMAZING. *o*
    I'm planning on buying this one soon so I can read the sequel, but now you've sort of given me second thoughts. It's good to know there weren't major detractors though.

  5. She's one of my favorite authors. I truly loved all her books so far!

  6. I've actually been dying to read this and though I still really want to read it, I'll take into consideration what you said about the character development. I greatly appreciate your honesty.


  7. This is the first time I actually hear of this book, and it sounds good. I might pick it up, the story seems to be one I would enjoy. Great review :)

  8. OMG, i soo glad i liked it! I love simone elkeles!*i see ur reading perfect Chemistry- i love that book 2!* U C i love her books! I can't wait 4 rules of attraction!*sorry i'm rambling 2 much lol*

  9. Ooh, I think I'll read this one! I've seen another cover of it, but I like this one the most. I've yet to read a book by Simone Elkeles :)

  10. I've never read anything by Simone Elkeles, but after reading your review of Perfect Chemistry and now this, I need to pick up one of her books. This one sounds pretty good. Not as good as Perfect Chemistry, but I might pick it up anyway.

    Thanks for the review :D