Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles Book Review


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.
-Barnes & Noble

I loved Leaving Paradise! Once again, Simone Elkeles has composed a great novel involving the good girl/bad boy theme. This theme often poses the challenge of not becoming overly cliche, but as usual, Elkeles creates two characters that I love to watch as they embark on a journey towards healing.

It can be very heartbreaking to watch Maggie try and pick up the pieces of her life after the accident that paralyzes her.  I went in believing I might dislike Caleb, but I loved his portrayal. As much as he has been hardened after doing time in the detention center, he is equally vulnerable and genuine. This novel seemed a realistic account of how friends/family can become split once tragedy strikes, and even more ironic, that the victim herself can sometimes be blamed for what's happened.  Caleb and Maggie are placed on two opposite ends of the spectrum, Victim and Murderer, and therefore having a hard time fitting into a place that was once their home.

Overall, I loved watching Maggie and Caleb become closer as the novel progressed, and the ending was most surprising and bittersweet of all. It was both thrilling and angering, but all in all, a wonderful portrayal of sacrifice.

I give Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles 5 out of 5 cups of Earl Grey!