26 February 2011

Book Review: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Release Date: April 1st, 2007
Publisher: Flux (US)
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.
Recommended? Give it a try.
Buy the Book: Amazon US | Amazon UK

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. - Goodreads page
I actually had a bit of trouble stirring up a review for this book.. so bear with me: 

I have to say, after reading Perfect Chemistry and hearing that Leaving Paradise is a better book (from some people at least) I was excited to start reading. However, I was left disappointed. 

Maybe I had set my standards too high, or maybe this book is just not for me.
The overall plot was, like in Perfect Chemistry, rather cliché, but I can live with that. There’s nothing wrong with clichés! However, if you nitpick (as I do) then I think you’ll find a few things that you dislike about this book. I won’t go into too much detail in case of spoilers, but the ending was a major throwback for me. As was the fact that this book seemed to go in circles.

I did not like the ending. Perhaps that’s because I know that there is a sequel, but I think this book could have benefited from being a standalone novel, and leaving the ending as it is. I just felt that the last couple of chapters seemed pretty pointless, and had too much lined up for the sequel, rather than focussing on the current story. 

As with Perfect Chemistry, the story is told from the alternating points of view of Caleb - an ‘ex-con’ - and Maggie, the girl that Caleb ran over in his car. As characters go, I felt that these two were fairly average in their personalities. 

Although the two had amazing back-stories, and there was so much to tell about their lives, I felt that their personalities fell a little flat. 

I found that Caleb was annoying and, at times, incredibly selfish. This trait didn’t seem to be developed or go away during the novel, and that’s one of the main things that put me off this character. 

To be completely honest, the writing style is one of the few things that drew me into this book and kept me reading. If Simone Elkeles didn’t have such an amazing skill of keeping me interested, I don’t think I would have made it to the end of the book. 


  1. I read this one two days ago and really liked it but I don't think it's a better book than Perfect Chemistry !! I liked the chracters and the author's writing but the plot was very predictable and the end sucks .. well according to me !! I've ordered Return to Paradise so I'll let you know what I thought of it ;)

  2. I'm glad you liked it :) I'm happy you agree with me on the ending! Ugh. I hated it. But I'm not really a fan of books that leave endings open for sequels. Anyway, do let me know what you think of book two! :D

  3. Thanks for the review. I am a little hesitant to pick it up though I'm sure I will at some point. I shan't be reading it any time soon! Thanks for being honest :)

  4. No problem :) I was really worried about coming across as rude in this review.. I hate writing negative reviews. I really need to work on that, haha. Instead of reading this, I think you should read Rules of Attraction ;) :D


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