Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

3 Stars!

To sum it up: 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. She has no social life, 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...

*crickets chirping*

I've probably been sitting here a good five minutes, feeling clueless on what to write in this review. I liked this book. ...And I truly can see why others thought this was a very emotional and well-worthy read. But for some reason, I was so up and down with this novel. Let's just go ahead and get the ugly stuff out of the way: Throughout quite a bit of this book, I was bored- I just didn't really connect with the characters, and the writing felt stiff and unconvincing at times. I think one thing that prevented me from giving this book more than three stars, was the lack of romance. Now don't get me wrong- it was there. But there just wasn't enough for my taste. The story seemed to revolve more around struggles, than actual romance. I just couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed, because I couldn't really feel the chemistry between Maggie and Caleb- I never really understood what it was that made these two characters fall in love, and I just never felt that must needed, explosive chemistry. In my romance novels, I need to feel that earth-shattering connection. But for me, the characters in this story felt a bit one-dimensional for me at times, and I was never convinced of Maggie and Caleb's feelings for one another.

Overall, this seemed to be more of a story about forgiveness, and growing up in the midst of obstacles and challenges being faced, rather than a romance. This was my first book by Simone Elkeles, and it definitely won't be my last. Even though this story didn't really work for me, I enjoyed her writing style- she truly is a gifted author in that aspect. For me though, this just ended up being one of those so-so reads, that was ultimately forgettable.

PS: I'm still undecided on if I plan on reading the sequel to this story, Return to Paradise- I'm curious to know the challenges Maggie and Caleb must face and over-come to get their happy ending, but I just can't bring myself to really care enough to want to continue on with this next book. Decisions, decisions...  



glass said...

Perfect Chemistry is romance novel - at least that's how I see it. You should try with that one if you haven't read it so far. This one is more realistic fiction - all those stuff about growing up and forgiveness you mentioned.

glass @ I'm a reader, what about you?

Tina B said...

I read both books and liked them. I understand your issues with the book though. Thanks for your honest review.

Alyssa said...

Glass- I actually read Perfect Chemistry after reading Leaving Paradise, and I liked it much better! :)

Tina- you're very welcome! I always try to write honest reviews! ...I wish I had been a bigger fan of this one, but unfortunately, it just didn't do much for me! That happens from time to time though! :)


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