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Leaving Paradise

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Author: Simone Elkeles

Published: April 8th 2007 by Flux (first published April 1st 2007)

Format: Paperback , 303 pages

Isbn: 9780738710181

Language: English


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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 freedo 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.

30 review for Leaving Paradise

  1. 5 out of 5

    Booknut

    You know your Monday night is going downhill when you're stuck weeping over a cliffhanger. I mean, this is the last straw in the haystack. The last chocolate in the box. The icing on the cake. The hole in the piñata. I get that there will be cliffhangers. What I don't get is why only I ever seemed to be constantly plagued by them! 4/5 times, a book I will pick up will go something like this: Book: Introducing a delicious guy character with soulful eyes and a great sense of humour Book: Ooh look - h You know your Monday night is going downhill when you're stuck weeping over a cliffhanger. I mean, this is the last straw in the haystack. The last chocolate in the box. The icing on the cake. The hole in the piñata. I get that there will be cliffhangers. What I don't get is why only I ever seemed to be constantly plagued by them! 4/5 times, a book I will pick up will go something like this: Book: Introducing a delicious guy character with soulful eyes and a great sense of humour Book: Ooh look - heroine with a backbone! Book: Her and the guy aren't getting along...obviously this means they are MEANT FOR EACHOTHER Book: Insert awesome situations that make you wish you had this life Book: *Spend several moments sniffling over your sad, lonely life* Book: BREAK UP/CRYING IN THE RAIN SCENE Book: Stop listening to Taylor Swift on repeat and watch as they mope for days Book: Back together again! Par-tay! Book: Things are looking good Book: They may even become a couple Book: He told her he loves her!! *throws confetti* Book: But hang on... Book: Wait- Book: And she's going to tell him she- OH WAIT HE'S LEAVING, sike! Book: ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS (where the author will proceed to shower you with the number of dogs they have, a bunch of adjectives describing their editing staff and the name of their favourite chocolate brand). Dear authors - READERS HATE CLIFFHANGERS! I mean, have you ever met one reader that THANKED you for giving them a cliffhanger?! Cliffhangers are like smoking. Or parachuting without a parachute. They cause the following things: - Heart palpitations - Sobbing - Crying - Pain - Sniffling - Pain - Swooning - Incoherent screaming (e.g. "OH THE FEELS!", "WHY?!", "WHAT IS THIS?!") - Throwing of objects and people - Pain - More pain - Endless pain - NEVER ENDING PAIN GOOD GOD WHY DID YOU DO THIS I'M DYING MAKE IT STOP! So yep. I have finished my rant. You may now leave - wiser and stronger :D (And maybe slightly weirded out!)

  2. 4 out of 5

    Katrina Passick Lumsden

    So...mashed potatoes. That's what this book is. Mashed potatoes. Tastes kinda good, relatively harmless and easy to digest, but nothing spectacular. Sort of bland, but occasionally satisfies a particular craving. Mashed potatoes. Yes. Not the real, red-skinned taters mashed potatoes, we're talking good old boxed taters. Premise was good, but it was kind of slow. It seemed to take forever for Maggie and Caleb to see each other again, but once they did, it was like instant love....which just didn' So...mashed potatoes. That's what this book is. Mashed potatoes. Tastes kinda good, relatively harmless and easy to digest, but nothing spectacular. Sort of bland, but occasionally satisfies a particular craving. Mashed potatoes. Yes. Not the real, red-skinned taters mashed potatoes, we're talking good old boxed taters. Premise was good, but it was kind of slow. It seemed to take forever for Maggie and Caleb to see each other again, but once they did, it was like instant love....which just didn't settle well with me. I also generally dislike it when female authors try to speak through a male protagonist....it almost never comes across as genuine. Caleb's POV sounded suspiciously feminine and that made his macho persona a bit cheesy. I can see why a lot of teen girls love this, however. Ms. Elkeles isn't a half-bad writer and there are some good lessons to be learned. It's just that, when you get to be even my age (which is only 30), these particular issues seem almost unrealistically juvenile. Good for the teen set. Anyone over the age of 19 or 20, however, might find it a bit too grating.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nazanin

    DNF @ 33% It’s been a while since I’ve read this author’s books and let me tell you I loved them but this one didn’t work out for me or maybe it’s just my taste that has changed. This one is so slow and so far the MCs didn’t really interact with each other, actually, so far they spoke with each other just one sentence. Well, I’m not that patient, I’m out… Hope you enjoy it!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Lady Jayne *~*The Beach Bandida*~*

    (4 Stars) Loved this! Can't wait for the second book, Return to Paradise, coming out in September 2010, as the story is not over yet. Longer review to follow later. ................. Almost half a year later….my review... (4.5 Stars) I’m finally writing my review after my re-reading of Leaving Paradise just prior to reading the sequel, Return to Paradise. Earlier this year I read Perfect Chemistry by this author, and absolutely LOVED it and Alex and Brittany. Alex is one of my fave YA heroes! So sigh/ (4 Stars) Loved this! Can't wait for the second book, Return to Paradise, coming out in September 2010, as the story is not over yet. Longer review to follow later. ................. Almost half a year later….my review... (4.5 Stars) I’m finally writing my review after my re-reading of Leaving Paradise just prior to reading the sequel, Return to Paradise. Earlier this year I read Perfect Chemistry by this author, and absolutely LOVED it and Alex and Brittany. Alex is one of my fave YA heroes! So sigh/swoon-sworthy. While I enjoyed and loved Leaving Paradise and Caleb and Maggie, too, I didn’t love it quite much as Perfect Chemistry and hence the 4 Stars. Though, reading this the second time around and being thoroughly drawn in again, I am going to bump it up to 4.5 Stars, though recognising Ms Elkeles' growth as a writer in Perfect Chemistry. Leaving Paradise is the story of two teens whose lives (and that of their families) were both changed forever a result of a drunk driving hit-and-run accident. The story is told from Maggie’s and Caleb’s alternating first person point-of-views, giving us an intimate view into their thoughts and feelings. Maggie Armstrong has spent the past year in hospitals and physical therapy as a result of the accident. She fears that she may walk with a limp for the rest of her life. Every time she looks at the ugly red scars etched across her left leg from the numerous surgeries, she is reminded of that painful night and how life just hasn’t been the same since. Her father has left, she lost not only her circle of friends but her best friend, can no longer play tennis, and her time away from school has left her feeling isolated and alone...like a freak. Caleb Becker, Maggie’s neighbour, ex-best friend’s brother, and Maggie’s secret crush since her childhood, was convicted of Maggie’s hit-and-run and has spent the past year in juvenile detention. While he is happy to be free, he returns to Paradise to find his family in turmoil, and he realises that he can't just slip right back into his life again. "It's hard keeping everything the same when the same things look and feel so different." What both Maggie and Caleb want is just to leave Paradise. Yet, being neighbours, as well as other chance encounters, forces them to confront their grief and anger since that tragic night, and they end up finding love and solace in each other. This is a raw and touching story of two people struggling to forgive and trust and move on from a reckless accident, which scarred them both in different but profound ways. Their fears, frustrations and pain felt honest and real. And their romantic yet complicated love left me aching. What I wish I had known before I started it, though, was that Caleb and Maggie’s story did not end with this book. Oh, and I just have to mention that I LOVE the cover! Some of my fave quotes/scenes; "Are you following me?" she asks, but doesn't meet my gaze. "Yeah," I say. "Why?" I give her the only honest and true answer I have. "You're where I want to be." .... "I look down at our knees, slightly touching. Jeans against jeans. Does she notice the heat transferring from her body to mine? Does she even realize what she's doing to me? I know, I know. I'm not a virgin and the slightest touch of a girl's knee is driving me insane. I don't even know what I'm feeling for Maggie, I just know that I'm feeling. It's something I've tried to avoid and deny until yesterday, when I held her in my arms while her tears spilled onto my shirt. God, our knees touching isn't enough. I need more. She's knotting her fingers together on her lap as if she doesn't know what to do with them. I want to touch her, but what if she pulls away like before? I've never been such a wuss with a girl in my life. I bite my bottom lip as I slide my hand about millionth of a millimeter closer to her hand. She doesn't seem fazed so I move closer. And closer. When the tips of my fingers touch her wrist, she freezes. But she doesn't jerk her hand away. God, her skin is so soft, I think as my fingers trail a path from her wrist to her knuckles to her smooth, manicured nails. I swear touching her like this is driving me nuts. It's more erotic, more intense than any other time with Kendra. I feel awkward and inexperienced as a freshman again. I look up. Everyone else is oblivious to the intensity of emotions running rampant in the back of the public bus. When I look back down at my hand covering hers, I'm grateful she hasn't come to her senses and pulled away. As if she knows my thoughts, we both turn our hands at the same time so our hands are palm against palm...finger against finger. Her hand is dwarfed against mine. It makes her seem more delicate and petite than I'd realize. I feel a need to protect her and be her champion should she ever need one. With a slight shift of my hand, I lace my fingers through hers. I'm holding hands. With Maggie Armstrong.” *SIGHS* .... “…the next time I kiss you it'll last a long, long time. And when we're done you're going to realize being turned on is not about experience." *SHIVERS* Okay…I’ve been hooked on The Gates lately so my current images may have slightly been coloured by that. ^_^ My Caleb (Colton Haynes): My Maggie (Skyler Samuels - but with light brown hair and hazel eyes): COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: I do not hold the copyright to any of the images used in this review. They are posted to add visuals to the review and for fun. If any of these images are yours and you would like me to remove them, please let me know, and I will do so as soon as possible. If I can identify the copyright, I will do so.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Heather K (dentist in my spare time)

    **2.5 stars** I am totes not on the bandwagon for this book. Was this book bad? No, not at all. I think this author has some talent and I liked the shifting POVs. The story actually seemed vaguely familiar to me but I liked the concept behind it. I would most definitely read more by this author in the future. However, a few things about this book really rubbed me the wrong way. 1) I think that Maggie's reactions are totally unrealistic. If a boy hit me with his car and PERMANENTLY MAIMED ME. I woul **2.5 stars** I am totes not on the bandwagon for this book. Was this book bad? No, not at all. I think this author has some talent and I liked the shifting POVs. The story actually seemed vaguely familiar to me but I liked the concept behind it. I would most definitely read more by this author in the future. However, a few things about this book really rubbed me the wrong way. 1) I think that Maggie's reactions are totally unrealistic. If a boy hit me with his car and PERMANENTLY MAIMED ME. I would be crazy, insane-style mad at him. I wanted angsty scenes full of "F-you!!!"s and "F you and your mother to the end of the world!!!" She should be downright vitriolic. Spitting poison at his face snake-style. Instead, Maggie barely calls Caleb on anything. She acts all meek and then falls back in love with him in a matter of days. 2) The "big twist." Okay, this just irritated me. I think it was kind of a cop out and Caleb's behavior didn't really reflect that the twist ever happened. I would have expected a totally different attitude after finding out the "twist." Something about it didn't sit right. 3) The cliffhanger ending. Need I say more??? 4) The stereotypical teenage "scene". So boring. So done. Overall, this book didn't work for me like I hoped it would. Again, not awful but I probably won't remember it in a week.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lora

    Before I reveal why I'm only giving this one 2.5 stars, let's go over what I liked: The writing. I'd have to say that was my favorite part of this novel. Just like with Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry series, it was spectacular. She always knows how to depict teens as they really are. She doesn't choose to sugarcoat their more amorous feelings or leave out curse words to make her novels more "teen friendly." I love that because, for me, it's better to be realistic than to make prudes happy. The charact Before I reveal why I'm only giving this one 2.5 stars, let's go over what I liked: The writing. I'd have to say that was my favorite part of this novel. Just like with Elkeles' Perfect Chemistry series, it was spectacular. She always knows how to depict teens as they really are. She doesn't choose to sugarcoat their more amorous feelings or leave out curse words to make her novels more "teen friendly." I love that because, for me, it's better to be realistic than to make prudes happy. The characters. I don't think that I felt as big of a connection as I would have liked. They were good, certainly better than a lot of characters I've read about, but not as good as with her other novels. Which brings me to the reason for my rating: The pacing. Just didn't work for me. Everything just felt too rushed. Each chapter is very short, with each chapter switching POVs between Caleb and Maggie; this would have been fine if maybe the novel was fifty pages longer, but, unfortunately, it wasn't. Despite this, though, I still urge all who've not yet read this (I'm talking to you, Nic) to read it soon. Because, all in all, it was a very enjoyable read do to the writing, and the plot was very unique and refreshing. Bottom line, read it if you're a fan of Elkeles' writing. RATING: 2.5 stars.

  7. 4 out of 5

    andee 🏹

    3/5 Stars Two teenagers lives are drastically changed after one fateful night when Caleb hits Maggie while drink driving, leaving her for dead. A year later, after being released from a juvenile jail, Caleb is back in Paradise. Maggie and Caleb want nothing to do with each other but fate has other ideas. I had high expectations when it came to this book based on all the reviews I read and was only left disappointed. The book had a great plot but I didn't like the way it was written, felt very rush 3/5 Stars Two teenagers lives are drastically changed after one fateful night when Caleb hits Maggie while drink driving, leaving her for dead. A year later, after being released from a juvenile jail, Caleb is back in Paradise. Maggie and Caleb want nothing to do with each other but fate has other ideas. I had high expectations when it came to this book based on all the reviews I read and was only left disappointed. The book had a great plot but I didn't like the way it was written, felt very rushed and unrealistic. I have mixed feeling on the main characters. I liked them but was very easily annoyed with them. This book was okay and overall I did enjoy it but could have been much better.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Adita ✨The Slumbering Insomniac✨

    ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆[6/10] Dear Caleb Becker, ⏩While reading:   ⏩At the end:   ⏩Now:   Phew, kids! Sequel? No thanks!! ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆[6/10] Dear Caleb Becker, ⏩While reading:   ⏩At the end:   ⏩Now:   Phew, kids! Sequel? No thanks!!

  9. 4 out of 5

    Alyssa

    Definitely one of the best YA love stories that I have ever read XD

  10. 5 out of 5

    Buggy

    Opening Line: "I'd been waiting a year for this moment" 4.5~ I don’t generally read much YA stuff but Caleb and Maggie’s forbidden coming of age romance got to me and I found myself quite wrapped up in all their teenaged angst. I guess it was the unique story idea that first piqued my interest; that of a romance developing between the offender and his victim was too good to pass up. And once you get into it the reasoning’s as to why they get together it felt realistic. I mean they‘ve both been aw Opening Line: "I'd been waiting a year for this moment" 4.5~ I don’t generally read much YA stuff but Caleb and Maggie’s forbidden coming of age romance got to me and I found myself quite wrapped up in all their teenaged angst. I guess it was the unique story idea that first piqued my interest; that of a romance developing between the offender and his victim was too good to pass up. And once you get into it the reasoning’s as to why they get together it felt realistic. I mean they‘ve both been away for a year and things have changed, they‘ve changed and none of their friends “get” them anymore. Throw in some majorly screwed up family members, a big secret and super cool old lady and you’ve got yourselves a great story. Told with alternating POV’s for each chapter, this was a fast read and I enjoyed getting into both Maggie and Caleb’s heads, seeing what each of them thought of the same situation. We begin with our hero Caleb being released from jail. He’s just spent a year locked up in juvenile detention for hitting a girl with his car while drunk and then leaving the scene. He’s paid his dues though and is no longer the carefree popular teen that went away. All he wants now is to go home and resume his life, -well that and turn back time. With getting released comes a few rules though, like 150 hours of community service, meeting with a transition counsellor and staying out of trouble. It’s all easier said then done. Switching to Maggie we join her in physical therapy exercising her shattered leg and preparing to go back to school. The only thing that gets her through the day now is her scholarship to Spain. It seems since the accident she’s no longer one of the popular kids, they all think she’s a freak and Maggie can’t wait to get out of this town and away from their whispers and stares. Through circumstance Maggie takes a job as a companion for old Mrs Reynolds (who turned out to be one of my favourite characters) Coincidentally she’s also just hired Caleb through his community service. I guess in a town as small as Paradise they should have expected to run into each other but what neither had expected was that it would only be the other that could truly understand what they’re going through. Caleb’s family is really messed up; his sister is a Goth ghost, his mother acts like nothing has happened and his father is just gone. And then there's his ex-girlfriend, beautiful, seductive and full of poison. Maggie’s days of playing tennis are over and her overprotective Mum (eek) is dating her boss. What an embarrassment. Bound together by the tragedy yet forbidden by their parents and a court order to be together a tentative friendship begins, quickly developing into something neither of them had expected or can stop. A bittersweet, moving love story, now I only wish I had Return to Paradise because the ending here leaves you hanging. I’ll definitely be reading more from Simone Elkeles. Cheers

  11. 4 out of 5

    Donna {Book Passion For Life}

    Posted on: http://bookpassionforlife.blogspot.com/ After reading Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry series, I've been itching to find something just as good. And while I have read a few books that have been really good, nothing had been better than Perfect Chemistry. Well……that is until Leaving Paradise completely surpassed all my expectations and blew me completely away! Both Maggie Armstrong & Caleb Becker's lives changed one fateful night after Caleb accidently ran over Maggie while drunk drivin Posted on: http://bookpassionforlife.blogspot.com/ After reading Simone Elkeles Perfect Chemistry series, I've been itching to find something just as good. And while I have read a few books that have been really good, nothing had been better than Perfect Chemistry. Well……that is until Leaving Paradise completely surpassed all my expectations and blew me completely away! Both Maggie Armstrong & Caleb Becker's lives changed one fateful night after Caleb accidently ran over Maggie while drunk driving. While leaving Maggie for dead and with a permanent limp for life, Caleb has spent the last year in a juvenile jail. When Caleb is finally released, he and Maggie both try to move on with their lives but it’s hard when fate seems to have other plans for them……leaving them to both fighting their attraction for one another. When I started reading this book, admittedly I thought it was a little slow to start off with….but….don’t let that put you off from reading it. While reading it, I realised that we were slowly starting to find out how both, Caleb and Maggie felt about that fateful night. Not only did we find out what they felt but also that they both have different views of it too. With the story alternating from different point of views, you really get inside these characters head and really see them for who they really are. I honestly love two different views and I wish all books would do it. Caleb and Maggie were both great characters. Yes, they have a lot baggage but it’s nothing they can’t work through. While the chemistry between them is so undeniable, I honestly sat on the edge of my seat while reading it. The suspense, the heat and attraction is just skimming on top of the surface and you’re just waiting for it to burst out. Simone Elkeles has done a fantastic job while she tells a hard story bringing together the two people that it has affected the most. She also writes raw, passionate and intense scenes that leave the readers wanting more and more. Oh…..and when you think you know the full story.....wham! A massive shocker is thrown into the story.....that I for one, WAS NOT expecting! Wow! Just wow! Overall….Leaving Paradise left me needing to find out more about our characters that I’m headed for book two straight away. Read this book guys…I promise you won’t be disappointed.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Again, this is one of those books that leave me with a 'why didn't I read this sooner?' feeling. I kept seeing this pop up on my flist and I enjoyed it a lot. Usually, when I read about female characters, my thoughts go from 'why can't I be more like her' to 'for the love of god, please somebody, slap her!' but this time I recognized something of myself in Maggie. The part where Caleb makes her play tennis again, and she secretly loves it but doesn't want to admit it, that's exactly how I am. Tryi Again, this is one of those books that leave me with a 'why didn't I read this sooner?' feeling. I kept seeing this pop up on my flist and I enjoyed it a lot. Usually, when I read about female characters, my thoughts go from 'why can't I be more like her' to 'for the love of god, please somebody, slap her!' but this time I recognized something of myself in Maggie. The part where Caleb makes her play tennis again, and she secretly loves it but doesn't want to admit it, that's exactly how I am. Trying (new) things, getting over myself and my fears... that's about as scary as it gets for me. I'd wish I'd meet the person who can pull me over all my obstacles. Caleb's decision sucks. I was torn between wanting to smack Leah around and feeling sorry for her. She needs to man up and face the music. Her brother went to jail for christ's sake. Stop being so selfish. Kendra is the kind of girl I would beat up. A lot. Six words out of her mouth and my fist would be in it. And to all the parents in this book, I suggest putting this little gem on your Christmas lists. Sequel, where are you?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    THIS BOOK WAS SO FREAKING AMAZING! I loved every second of Leaving Paradise. WELL, except for the cliffhanger you call an ending because I can't accept that! I need and want more!! I need to find the second book as soon as possible because I NEED and WANT more! Now I'm not going to indulge in spoilers or any of that crap because you all need to drop whatever you are doing and go read this book. Unless you are in the middle of REALLY good book then proceed with reading and get this book after you'r THIS BOOK WAS SO FREAKING AMAZING! I loved every second of Leaving Paradise. WELL, except for the cliffhanger you call an ending because I can't accept that! I need and want more!! I need to find the second book as soon as possible because I NEED and WANT more! Now I'm not going to indulge in spoilers or any of that crap because you all need to drop whatever you are doing and go read this book. Unless you are in the middle of REALLY good book then proceed with reading and get this book after you're done. Other than that - go get this book! I want people to cry while reading this book because I definitely had some tears falling. At the end of the book. I swear. I totally promise that's the truth. Other than crying, you will scream, cheer, ship, swoon, and then cry some more. Make sure you have tissues and happy stuff (i.e. wine, chocolate, puppies, wine, etc.) near you at all times. I NEED THE SECOND BOOK RIGHT NOW!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    3.5 stars. Caleb Becker and Maggie Armstrong have spent the last year imprisoned. Caleb, imprisoned in juvenile detention for hitting Maggie while driving under the influence, and Maggie, imprisoned by physical therapy sessions for her damaged left leg that leaves her with a limp. When the two are forced together again after that one fateful night, how will they deal with the guilt and anxiety of trusting the person who's ruined ruined them forever? Leaving Paradise possesses an interesting premis 3.5 stars. Caleb Becker and Maggie Armstrong have spent the last year imprisoned. Caleb, imprisoned in juvenile detention for hitting Maggie while driving under the influence, and Maggie, imprisoned by physical therapy sessions for her damaged left leg that leaves her with a limp. When the two are forced together again after that one fateful night, how will they deal with the guilt and anxiety of trusting the person who's ruined ruined them forever? Leaving Paradise possesses an interesting premise, but Elkeles didn't take the story to its highest potential. Questions of betrayal, forgiveness, and trust are explored, though not to the depth that would have made this book amazing. Caleb and Maggie were good characters, yet they lacked the emotional complexity to make their struggles entirely believable. The pacing of the plot also left something to be desired - it seemed rushed and too many things fell into place at exactly the right moment. The ending was clearly crafted to leave room for a sequel, which isn't necessarily a bad thing but not a good thing either. Similar to her books Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction Elkeles's writing flows without a hitch. However, I did notice the occasional grammar mistake or typo that easily could have been caught by a better editor. Overall, if you're a fan of Simone Elkeles I would recommend reading this book. I'm still debating myself whether to read the second book, Return to Paradise. *cross-posted from my blog, the quiet voice.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paige Bookdragon

    We all have a book that the blurb is so good you wanna just make love to it but when you read the actual story, you were disgusted to find out it has herpes. Yep. Let me start why I decided to read this book. ♣The blurb : I was hooked with it. A guy who was just out of prison. A girl he crippled. A secret. Now, my popcorns were popping and my soda was chilled. ♣The genres this book was shelved: Contemporary romance? Count me in! ♣My cursed curiosity Now why I hated this book. ♣Inconsistent story line We all have a book that the blurb is so good you wanna just make love to it but when you read the actual story, you were disgusted to find out it has herpes. Yep. Let me start why I decided to read this book. ♣The blurb : I was hooked with it. A guy who was just out of prison. A girl he crippled. A secret. Now, my popcorns were popping and my soda was chilled. ♣The genres this book was shelved: Contemporary romance? Count me in! ♣My cursed curiosity Now why I hated this book. ♣Inconsistent story line Too much. Just too much. Most of the time, I was like "huh?", "say what?", "WTF", "Did I lose a chapter of this book?" ♣My on and off fondness of the characters: ♣The supposed to be big deal secret which is not so shocking at all. Really. ♣The way the author writes: No point in pulling punches. The author writes like she's in middle-school. ♣The fucking ending. ♣All in all:

  16. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    Such a great book. Ok it's about a girl and guy. For the past year the guy, Caleb Becker, has been in Juvinille detention for hitting a girl with his car while also being drunk. On the other side of the story, Maggie Armstrong, the girl Caleb hit with his car, has been in physical therapy for the past year. Now Caleb is finally out of jail, and is coming back home, and Maggie is going to try to face school even though she has a terrible limp. Story's very real, raw, great emotions. I could hardl Such a great book. Ok it's about a girl and guy. For the past year the guy, Caleb Becker, has been in Juvinille detention for hitting a girl with his car while also being drunk. On the other side of the story, Maggie Armstrong, the girl Caleb hit with his car, has been in physical therapy for the past year. Now Caleb is finally out of jail, and is coming back home, and Maggie is going to try to face school even though she has a terrible limp. Story's very real, raw, great emotions. I could hardly keep this book down. PLEASE READ IT!!! Oh, yeah...definetley a teen book. Language (BAD) and *interesting* scenes between girls and guys. Beyond that this book is de best!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amelia

    *FULL OF SPOILERS AFTER THE FIRST PARAGRAPH, BEWARE* My first issue with this book was Caleb . He was so annoying and I loathed every aspect of him. He just let everyone tell him what to do, it's like he couldn't think for himself. Even if he disagreed with someone or didn't want to do something, he'd just accept it and do whatever it is they told him to do, because he feels it's just easier to do that than to argue - or as we normal people say - give your opinion and stand up for yourself. " ' *FULL OF SPOILERS AFTER THE FIRST PARAGRAPH, BEWARE* My first issue with this book was Caleb . He was so annoying and I loathed every aspect of him. He just let everyone tell him what to do, it's like he couldn't think for himself. Even if he disagreed with someone or didn't want to do something, he'd just accept it and do whatever it is they told him to do, because he feels it's just easier to do that than to argue - or as we normal people say - give your opinion and stand up for yourself. " 'That's cool,' because, well, what else can I say? " Maybe YOUR OPINION YOU DUMBASS Not only that, but he's also kind of a douchebag. So he gets back from jail, hangs out with his ex (not talking or doing anything important, just making out because that's obviously the only thing they can do) then falls for Maggie - of course - but even though he's all "in love" with Maggie and "can't stop thinking about her" he still hooks up with his ex AGAIN and hopes Maggie doesn't see them -.- And while we're talking about his ex...Her name is Kendra and she is the typical perfect-blonde-popular-mean-girl that likes to make everyone miserable. She also "makes" Caleb sleep with her because she can and because, as I already said, he just can't say no to anyone, especially to a pretty girl with full lips and large breasts...Yes, he mentions this a couple of times. Maggie is no better. She's literally doing nothing for half of the book and then suddenly makes an amazing recovery because she had a boyfriend. Here's basically what the plot looks like for Maggie: she feels sorry for herself 90% of the time, she does nothing and talks to no one at school and still wonders why she has no friends and why everyone thinks she's weird. She also talks a lot about how she HATES Caleb and how nothing is the same ever since he hit her and she hopes she'll never see him again...Until she sees him. It took her maybe a week after he got back to start crushing on him AGAIN. That's right, of course Caleb is her ex BFFs brother, so naturally, she had a crush on him since forever. Anyways, as I said, a few days have passed and what else is there to do than to fall hard for the guy who ran over you with his car? They have several make-out sessions, he saves her from some bullies blah blah blah Then we get to maybe 80% of the book and I just knew it -they break up. There's always the break up towards the end before they can dramatically get back together -.- Now at that point, I'm already bored and know exactly what's going to happen, but what I don't expect is another ridiculous thing that just adds to the list of things that are badly done in this book -> the miraculous recovery Maggie makes after she dumps him. If there's one thing I hate in books that deal with health problems, it's when the MC or whoever, makes A FULL RECOVERY in the span of like 2 days BECAUSE OF A LOVE INTEREST. Relationships are a HUGE part of recovery, but they don't work like this. Basically what happens is this: Declan does something stupid, like always, Maggie breaks up with him, decides she's suddenly strong and can do anything she wants in like 5 minutes - in the same day she finally does what she hasn't been able to do for a whole year: she stands up to her bullies, decides she won't run away to Spain, stops hiding her scars and becomes comfortable in her own skin and basically becomes a different person. All of this things are great and of course I wanted that for her - but this is just unrealistic. At least it was for me. Moving on. Maggie also likes to talk A LOT about Kendra (and other girls), mostly like this: "How could I ever have thought I could compete with perfect Kendra Greene?" "God, they look so...perfect." She's always comparing herself with them and making a pity party every 10 seconds. We get it, you're no longer part of the popular crowd. Get over it. Then there's the completely unnecessary character death that's only there so it could add to the sadness and drama. It's just a tool to make the reader more emotional but it failed to do so with me. I felt absolutely nothing because it was so obvious it was just a plot device and a way to make the MCs get closer. Now we get to the ending....As I already guessed 10% in, Caleb wasn't actually the one who hit Maggie and ran away, it was his twin sister Leah and Maggie's BFF. Not only was that so predictable, it was also done poorly. In the very last chapter, Maggie suddenly remembers the accident and who was driving. She goes on to visit Caleb, who leaves because why not create additional drama and make the reader read the sequel, she then meets up with Leah. Leah tries to tell her it was her fault (even though she was basically THE WORST throughout the book and did nothing to help her brother or her BFF) but Maggie says something like "I already know, it doesn't matter, let's go get some pie :)" LIKE WHAT EVEN. She literally found out 3 seconds ago that her BFF lied to her for MONTHS knowing she was angry at her brother and generally sad, and she just forgave her like it was nothing.... EXCUSE ME. I love my BFF and all that, but if I found out that it was in fact her who ran over me and THEN LEFT ME THERE ON THE ROAD AND DID NOTHING EXCEPT LIE AND FRAME SOMEONE ELSE...I'd be a tad angry. I'm all for forgiveness, but this? This is not...normal. She LITERALLY forgave her the same day, I'm not exaggerating, that's what happened. Anyways, I'm so done with this that I lowered the rating from 2.5 to 2 stars.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Karla

    Lots of lessons to be learned in this book. I liked the alternating points-of-view between Maggie and Caleb. My heart ached for both of them and all that they had lost. Maggie's struggle with her debilitating injury and the stares and teasing she was victim of, was just so wrong!! People just made fun of her and didn't understand the physical pain Maggie was suffering from was almost more than she could bear. Then to have to listen to the snickering and rude comments...it just made me want to sm Lots of lessons to be learned in this book. I liked the alternating points-of-view between Maggie and Caleb. My heart ached for both of them and all that they had lost. Maggie's struggle with her debilitating injury and the stares and teasing she was victim of, was just so wrong!! People just made fun of her and didn't understand the physical pain Maggie was suffering from was almost more than she could bear. Then to have to listen to the snickering and rude comments...it just made me want to smack someone. Caleb's parents were the so un-supportive and his sister needed a good shaking to WAKE HER UP!! I can't imagine being his age and coming home to nothing but criticism from his own mother and father after the living hell he went through. They never really welcomed him back. I enjoyed the connection that Caleb and Maggie found with one another and thought their relationship was very sweet. If only everything else and everyone else...namely Kendra, couldn't stand her...didn't get in the way. One of my favorite characters was the charming, blunt, but very wise Mrs. Reynolds. The time they spent with her was some of the best in the book. The book had the potential to wrap up and go no further, but it seems that Caleb and Maggie’s story was not meant to come to a conclusion just yet. So, it’s on to Return to Paradise to see how the story plays out!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Annie Brewer

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!!!!!! Absolutely amazing! Review to come!! Okay, um I am not sure where to start. Well, let me start by saying Simone Elkeles has become a favorite author because of this book. I bought it on my nook cause it was cheap plus I loved the cover plus I have heard great things about it and my friend told me how amazing it is. And Maida, you were so right on!!!! This book was just....just. It just was. The romance, the story line, the characters, all of it was superb at its fin LOVE LOVE LOVE this book!!!!!! Absolutely amazing! Review to come!! Okay, um I am not sure where to start. Well, let me start by saying Simone Elkeles has become a favorite author because of this book. I bought it on my nook cause it was cheap plus I loved the cover plus I have heard great things about it and my friend told me how amazing it is. And Maida, you were so right on!!!! This book was just....just. It just was. The romance, the story line, the characters, all of it was superb at its finest. I am glad I read it first, I know everyone wants me to read the Perfect Chemistry books and believe me I will get to them. This was my first Elkeles book to read and she had me captivated from the start! I will be reading every book she ever wrote or writes for sure! YAY! Okay so let's get on with this review shall we? So Maggie Armstrong and Caleb Becker have known each other since they were kids and they have been neighbors as well. Maggies is best friends with Leah, Caleb's twin sister....until the night that changed everything. And boy was it a drastic change. While Caleb is the typical HOT popular God that girls swoon over and guys hate but still look up to, Maggie is just mediocre until her and Leah slide into the popular crowd. At a party one night, things get a little heated and Caleb gets drunk fighting with Maggie about his current girlfriend Kendra. Drunk and angry, Caleb hits Maggie with his car going home but doesn't check on her. But what really happened the night of the party? Only a couple of people know the truth, and it is a complete surprise. One thing's for sure, Maggie never walks the same again since she broke her leg-even surgeries wont fix it. So to avoid the embarrassment and humiliation of social suicide, Maggie is homeschooled the year of her junior year. Meanwhile, Caleb is thrown in jail on charges for drunk driving and a hit and run. He spends almost a year in there, paying his dues and gets of with community service. Going back to Paradise(his hometown), he finds that the life he left behind is the life that will never be repaired upon returning. His mother wont touch him, his father acts oblivious and fakes happiness eventhough their family has gone to shit, oh yea and Leah has become gothic ghost. He realizes nothing will be the same no matter how hard he tries. Going back to school is even different, everyone looks at him like an ex-con and though that might be true, there are secrets that noone knows about but he is not about to spill it and rumors float around about what went on while he was in jail. Eventually, Maggie and Caleb come face to face after a year and as awkward and ridiculous as it is, they find that they are the only people who understand what really happend and what it's like to be a popular turned outsider/ They tried to avoid each other, but their attraction and chemistry is too intense to ignore......can they fight it or will it destroy them forever? OKAY, so sorry that was quite long....I couldn't stop the words from flowing right out of me. My thoughts are this: I loved every bit of this story. There are some sad parts, some happy, some confusing, and definitely some surprising twists!! It was an emotional roller coaster and the ending was not what I was hoping for however, it was well developed and I know it will work out in the end in the next book. The book was written from both POV's, which everyone that knows me knows I love the guy's perspetive!! I loved Caleb even more because I got to see what he was going through despite the circumstances. I felt his emotions, his anger, fear, love, joy, betrayal, pain-and I wanted to hug him and tell him I was here(though it's not like he can hear me, he's a freaking fictional character)!!!! Dammit!!! But still, he was my favorite of them all. Once you read this, you will understand why I am not calling him a prick for hitting his friend and running off. Okay I will stop babbling about him. Love you Caleb!!!! <3 I still enjoyed the story from Maggie's view too. She was a caring, strong, level headed heroine and though she appeared weak at times, she still managed to captivate me. She went through a lot as Caleb did. This story really deals with real life issues and Elkeles did a great job weaving both POV's together to make it flow very smoothly. It was never choppy in anyway. Characters: I loved the dynami of each character, though I will say, I hated Kendra. She was your typical snotty bicth who I wanted punch her face in to her a lesson. She irked me the whole way and I swear I was angry in every scene with her. I liked Drew, who was Caleb's friend...he was funny and amuzed the hell outta me eventhough he was an ass at times. I didn't like Maggie's mom that much or either of Caleb's parents. I hope they shape up in the next one, if they are even in it. Leah had a small role so I can't say whether I liked her or not cause it would give away some important things. But one of my favorite characters was Mrs. Reynolds, an old lady who helped both Caleb and Maggie realize the importance in life. She was a huge part of their transformation and was the best influence they could have asked for. I admired her, she was so generous and kind. I think everyone will fall in love with her!! I also liked Damon, Caleb's transition coach who gave him a chance when no one else would have. He totally rocked my socks off!!! Honestly, I didn't see anything bad about this book!!! It was absolutely perfect the way it was!!! I can't wait to get into the sequel!!!! I know I will be a blubbering mess, I love happy endings and I have a good feeling about it! I definitely recommend this book to all with a love for sappy romances!! GO GET YOU A COPY!!!! You won't regret it!!!!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Arlene

    Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles is such a great read! It’s the kind of book you pick up, keep turning the pages, and before you know it; you’re done with the story. I really enjoyed the format of the book and how the POV alternates between the two main characters. The author did a great job of developing both Caleb and Maggie’s character that you immediately come to care for both of them regardless of their opposing circumstance. It’s a unique storyline with a sad ending that will have most p Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles is such a great read! It’s the kind of book you pick up, keep turning the pages, and before you know it; you’re done with the story. I really enjoyed the format of the book and how the POV alternates between the two main characters. The author did a great job of developing both Caleb and Maggie’s character that you immediately come to care for both of them regardless of their opposing circumstance. It’s a unique storyline with a sad ending that will have most people tearing up. I wasn’t 100% happy with the ending, but once I thought about it, I realized it’s a more realistic ending rather than the HEA most books attempt to deliver. However, I was so hooked by the story that I did some research on it, and it sounds like there will be a sequel to this book. Lately, I’ve been boo’ing sequels, but reading Leaving Paradise has made me an instant fan of Simone Elkeles, so I look forward to book two in this series. About the story… Maggie Armstrong is a senior in high school returning after a year in the hospital and subsequent physical therapy as a result of being hit by a car that left her scarred and damaged both physically and emotionally. Upon her return, she must face her fellow students, who show little compassion for her circumstance and go so far as to ridicule her on her limp, which was a result of her accident. Even more challenging, she encounters Caleb Baker, who’s recently completed a year in the juvenile detention center after being accused of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated and changing Maggie’s life forever. These two teenagers both face emotional hardships in trying to achieve some semblance in their life and ultimately find solace in the most unlikely candidates… each other. There were tender moments that had me re-reading some passages, and the dialog was engaging and enjoyable. About three quarters of the way through, a reveal came about that surprised me and in a small sense, I found it unnecessary to the story. However, it didn’t take away from how I felt about Caleb and Maggie, and I rooted for them all the way through. I can’t wait for the sequel.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Beatrice Masaluñga

    It has been two or 3 years since I've read anything by Simone Elkeles. I still remember reading Perfect Chemistry trilogy, which I absolutely love. I'm so glad that I've read another novel of hers, giving me this jittery and sad feeling. If you haven't read that trilogy, GO READ IT. Especially, if you love Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. What happens when the person who damaged you for life... becomes the person you trust the most? Leaving Paradise is an emotional roller coast It has been two or 3 years since I've read anything by Simone Elkeles. I still remember reading Perfect Chemistry trilogy, which I absolutely love. I'm so glad that I've read another novel of hers, giving me this jittery and sad feeling. If you haven't read that trilogy, GO READ IT. Especially, if you love Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry. What happens when the person who damaged you for life... becomes the person you trust the most? Leaving Paradise is an emotional roller coaster read. There are moments of sadness, joy and love. Likely, it centers more on forgiveness and recovery from a downfall. This book has an alternating point of view between Caleb Becker and Maggie Armstrong. I love how the story is elaborated so that we get to know more about their life and struggles. Caleb spent his past year in prison/juvenile detention because of being drunk and hit his neighbor, Maggie Armstrong which changed both their lives and relationships with other people. These characters are damaged and vulnerable. Maggie's future has changed as she suffered with injuries that will forever leave a mark on her skin and undergone physical therapies for her leg because of a limp. Caleb's reputation as an ex-convict and earning not-so-good impressions. What's good about it? throughout the story,there are character developments. It's beautifully written though it took me a while to get into the story. I absolutely love love love the characters and the little twist. I'm not going to mention it here because I don't want to ruin some reading moments. Overall, I love it and I recommend this one. The last part of the story just... oh my dear. I need the next book. ASAP

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kristy

    Street corner TBR Challenge August pick #4 per Flannery. Ahh, This was one of those books I just couldn't put down. I was reading it every spare second I had. I didn't know if Elkeles was going to be able to pull off anything as awesome as "perfect chemistry", but she definitely brought her A-game with this book. Although, it just sort of abruptly ended.... Spoilers: I hate that ending. I want the goo-goo, happy ending. This one was sad! I hope there is some reconnecting in book #2. Maggie, at first Street corner TBR Challenge August pick #4 per Flannery. Ahh, This was one of those books I just couldn't put down. I was reading it every spare second I had. I didn't know if Elkeles was going to be able to pull off anything as awesome as "perfect chemistry", but she definitely brought her A-game with this book. Although, it just sort of abruptly ended.... Spoilers: I hate that ending. I want the goo-goo, happy ending. This one was sad! I hope there is some reconnecting in book #2. Maggie, at first got under my skin. The way she was handling the accident was whiney and childish... but then I thought to myself, how would you have really reacted in High School if it happened to you??!?! Probably the same way, so it was realistic. She was angry and had a right to be. But, since we got to read inside Caleb's head it made me root for him. He really is a great guy- even if everyone in town thinks he is terrible. The way he is taking the blame for Leah just blows my mind. That is some sibling love. I am very glad that in the end atleast Leah and Maggie are working out their problems instead of running away. 3.5 stars.... if you liked her other books, I believe you will be into this one as well.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Leaving Paradise is my very first Elkeles novel (I was an Elkeles virgin o.0). I'd read mixed reviews from my GR friends but most of her books have high average ratings so I was keen to see what the fuss was about. As you can see from my measly 2 stars, I didn't love it. But I definitely didn't hate it either. I don't regret paying (something ridiculous like a dollar...) for it on my Kindle. Would I pay much more than that? I don't know. Probably not. Let's get the ugly stuff out of the way first Leaving Paradise is my very first Elkeles novel (I was an Elkeles virgin o.0). I'd read mixed reviews from my GR friends but most of her books have high average ratings so I was keen to see what the fuss was about. As you can see from my measly 2 stars, I didn't love it. But I definitely didn't hate it either. I don't regret paying (something ridiculous like a dollar...) for it on my Kindle. Would I pay much more than that? I don't know. Probably not. Let's get the ugly stuff out of the way first: I was bored, I didn't connect with the characters and the writing felt stiff and unconvincing. Oh and sometimes it felt like an episode of The Bold and the Beautiful. (FYI, not a good thing for me.) Phew, now that's over I'm just going to tell you what I DID like, because I enjoy doing that so much more. I liked Maggie and Caleb. No, I didn't connect with them. And the jail stuff felt so contrived. But they didn't make me throw my book in frustration or anything like that. I kept reading till the end because I wanted some kind of satisfaction about Maggie and Caleb's relationship. I didn't end up getting it. (view spoiler)[The "Let's go get pie" thing seemed so weird to me. Because I'm Aussie, pie makes me think meat pie (though obviously that's not what they meant) and it just confused me. Is that the moral of the story? Pie fixes all? (hide spoiler)] I also liked the premise. Girl likes guy, guy hits girl with car. But they're attracted to each other anyway. The premise was strong, but fell short in the delivery. It's one of those books that I sort of liked while I was reading it but, ultimately, it's forgettable. One of those books that ends with me thinking, "Well, at least that's another book read for my Goodreads challenge..."

  24. 4 out of 5

    Shay_yahS

    Dear cliff hanger I hate you and wish I never met you Love Angry Reader This story was ok.. It started slow.. Kiiiiiinda cute.. Then rushed the end.. And left you hanging in a cliff.. No closure.. some cliff hangers I get even tho they make me angry... But this one jus made me angry..

  25. 4 out of 5

    Carla *Jen7waters*

    I didn't hate this book, and the 1 star rating seems a bit harsh even for me, but so many things about this story bothered the hell out of me that I honestly cannot make myself click on that second star. So the story is about this boy, Caleb, who hit his next door neighbor, Maggie, with a car while drunk driving, fled the scene, and went to jail for a year for it. Maggie survived but ended up with a permanently injured, scarred leg and a severe limp. The book starts when Caleb gets out of jail an I didn't hate this book, and the 1 star rating seems a bit harsh even for me, but so many things about this story bothered the hell out of me that I honestly cannot make myself click on that second star. So the story is about this boy, Caleb, who hit his next door neighbor, Maggie, with a car while drunk driving, fled the scene, and went to jail for a year for it. Maggie survived but ended up with a permanently injured, scarred leg and a severe limp. The book starts when Caleb gets out of jail and goes home, hopefully to get his life back on track, but everyone he knows, family, friends, ex-girlfriend, only see him and treat him like some kind of circus freak attraction dangerous ex-con. And then there's Maggie, who will not forgive him for the accident, and whom he has to work with in order to complete his sentence by doing community service. I never really connected with the characters, Caleb is kind of an asshole, constantly shaming his sister because she dresses in all black, makeup included, and he doesn't like it. I also hated the way he thought about Maggie for a big part of the story, like it was her fault that he went to jail, like her injured leg and scars were nothing compared to his own problems and the time he spent locked up. He never, not even once, stopped to think about what's like to live with a leg injury forever. I don't even care about the plot twist regarding the accident, because it doesn't excuse the fact that he never tried to put himself in Maggie's shoes. I didn't love Maggie either, I tried, oh I tried, but I don't understand how she can go from not even wanting to see Caleb, to him being the love she'll never forget. How can you date the guy who ran you over with a car and left you broken and bleeding and alone on the street?? Again, the twist doesn't really matter, because she dates him, makes out with him, falls in love with him way before knowing the truth. I don't get it. I honestly don't get it. I also don't understand how everyone at Maggie's school behaved like complete morons towards her. Seriously, a girl gets badly injured in an accident and everyone who knows her either ignores her or makes fun of her? Some of these guys even call her names like 'retard' because she limps... WTF? Where is this school exactly, Hell? I'm sorry but I don't think this is realistic at all. I've never, in my whole academic life, from the first grade to my final day at college, witnessed an injured/disabled person being bullied like that. I mean, I understand that this was just another thing to make Maggie's life even more sad and angsty, but in my opinion it's too much. One thing that I REALLY don't like in romance books is when one of the characters hooks up with someone else along the way, which Caleb does, he gets involved with his ex (who, by the way, he keeps complaining about, he doesn't like her lipstick or her perfume, her clothes are too revealing, and so on), they make out several times and apparently they have sex at some point too (there's no actual scene of the act--thank the gods for small mercies). This type of plot grosses me out and totally kills my mood to keep reading. How can I root for a couple when I'm told that one of the involved had sex with someone else during the couple's own slow burn romance journey? I can't. And then there's the plot twist regarding the accident, I'm not sure how I feel about it, but I can honestly say it didn't make me feel better about the love story, because, again: I don't understand the romance. I don't understand Maggie. About the writing, the pace, and how the story unfolds: I was actually disappointed, because I've read Perfect Chemistry a while back, liked it a lot, and I don't remember complaining about any of this, but Leaving Paradise was kind of a mess--most of the important scenes are too rushed, others are mostly dialogue, without descriptions of what the characters are doing or feeling, and I believe that this made it harder for me to connect with them and with the story. The ending was quite terrible. I don't even care that there's a sequel. It's just terrible.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rose

    Initial reaction: I feel like I'm of two minds with this book. One part of me really liked some of the emotional roughness and exploration of difficult situations this story offered, both for Maggie and Caleb's experiences. At the same time, I feel like this book had a cumbersome way of showing these details, so much at times that my suspension of disbelief couldn't overlook points of dramatic convenience for the sequence of events. I know this story has a follow up but did it have to end with s Initial reaction: I feel like I'm of two minds with this book. One part of me really liked some of the emotional roughness and exploration of difficult situations this story offered, both for Maggie and Caleb's experiences. At the same time, I feel like this book had a cumbersome way of showing these details, so much at times that my suspension of disbelief couldn't overlook points of dramatic convenience for the sequence of events. I know this story has a follow up but did it have to end with so many parts in the air and too quickly resolved? Full review: I know this review is going to sound like a (albeit, brief) rant, but for all intents, I actually did like a significant part of this book and I found myself eagerly continuing it without wanting to put it down. I just didn't think that Elkeles's writing was that strong or consistent through the work, the latter part of the novel really showcasing how rushed and underdeveloped all of the respective matters in this book actually were. The progression felt awesome and the characters emotionally connected in moments, but then it felt rushed to heck and back and underdeveloped in others. Caleb and Maggie both felt like realistic characters with strong central conflicts to me - which was one of the reasons I was initially drawn to this story. Caleb's just out of prison for hitting Maggie in a drunken hit and run accident, while Maggie's recovering from her injuries and feeling her world crash down around her as her initial plans to flee their hometown of Paradise end up falling through. It's when Maggie and Caleb end up interacting again (reluctantly) that both of them start changing in individual ways that are key to recuperating from the stigma and self-doubts that surround them. I feel like the story had moments where it really had points to make about it, but it didn't feel as deep as I'd hoped it would be, though it did feel genuine on the part of the characters and their interactions with each other. I liked watching their moments of growth where it was possible to really see them come to terms with everything that was going on and the clashes that were unique to their homes, school interactions, and personal challenges. Heck, I even found myself believing their relationship, though I would say that the conflicts surrounding that made me lose my suspension of disbelief more than a few times. Yet I had a major bone to pick as the story started marching towards its ending - it was throwing all of these kinds of curveballs for reveals, and I felt like they were just shoehorned into the book just before ending on a note that promised a continuation or potential resolution in a forthcoming book. Like - I honestly feel with all of the situations it did end up revealing, it deserved a path towards the resolution that didn't feel like a steep drop off in some respects. That was what somewhat ruined the experience of the book for me. I still want to see what happens in the follow-up book, but it doesn't make me want to jump right into the next story for anticipation because I feel like this ended so haphazard. I thought it was worth the time - both for the strong audiobook performance and for watching the relationships between the characters develop and evoke their struggles over time. Yet, I also think it could've been a stronger experience. Overall score: 2.5/5 stars.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Wardrip

    Reviewed by Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen for TeensReadToo.com Two very different people are joined together by the most common yet dreadful experience. Both live in the town of Paradise, but for them it is nothing like the name. Caleb Becker had spent time in juvenile detention for the crime of driving while intoxicated and accidentally hitting someone with his car. And now that he has done his time, Caleb is able to go home to his family and his girlfriend, if they are still together. Bu Reviewed by Randstostipher "tallnlankyrn" Nguyen for TeensReadToo.com Two very different people are joined together by the most common yet dreadful experience. Both live in the town of Paradise, but for them it is nothing like the name. Caleb Becker had spent time in juvenile detention for the crime of driving while intoxicated and accidentally hitting someone with his car. And now that he has done his time, Caleb is able to go home to his family and his girlfriend, if they are still together. But for Caleb, returning to Paradise isn't so easy. His mother is trying to act like nothing has happened, his sister hardly talks to anyone and has went from prep to goth, and his dad is just there. Maggie Armstrong was that innocent person that Caleb hit, and she's been living in her own prison, the hospital. Trying to get back her life, Maggie has been trying her best to walk right again. But during those times, the people who Maggie thought were her friends began to grow apart from her. It's bad enough that her mother is trying to make ends meet and trying to make Maggie happy, but since Paradise isn't such a big town, there's a greater chance of Maggie running into Caleb. For Caleb, it's much easier for him to gain his life back, since he was always the popular one -- but for Maggie, she's closer to the outside. But the one thing they both truly needed wasn't their old friends or their old lives, but each other. That one incident, that one thing that affected both of them, each in a different way, has caused a strong connection between them that they would never be able to ignore. LEAVING PARADISE was honestly an amazing story, and was wonderfully written to where whoever reads it will not be able to get the story out of their head. Simone Elkeles, author of the highly acclaimed HOW TO RUIN A SUMMER VACATION, has switched gears and made an issue that is so common her own and very unique. The relationship between Caleb and Maggie was so real and extremely heartwarming, and the ways that they struggled to continue their lives, both individually and together, makes you wonder if you are able to be as strong as they are. This is another wonderful novel from Simone Elkeles, and I cannot wait to read her future publications.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Edna

    Simone Elkeles knocked this book out of the park. Leaving Paradise is wonderful, the second half particularly stood out to me. Once I picked it up, I read for four hours straight to finish it. It's a lot more emotionally draining than Perfect Chemistry so if you're looking for that witty banter, you won't find it here. Leaving Paradise will put your heart through the ringer. Their relationship morphs from them individually having broken spirits to developing this strong attraction to facing pain Simone Elkeles knocked this book out of the park. Leaving Paradise is wonderful, the second half particularly stood out to me. Once I picked it up, I read for four hours straight to finish it. It's a lot more emotionally draining than Perfect Chemistry so if you're looking for that witty banter, you won't find it here. Leaving Paradise will put your heart through the ringer. Their relationship morphs from them individually having broken spirits to developing this strong attraction to facing painful heartbreak. This story also touches on the power of forgiveness and learning to trust.. That said, I did have a problem or two with one "conflict" and her name is Kendra. The other thing I must mention is the slow beginning but I forgive that for the amazing second half. I just want to go back and reread some passages from this now. I'm on the edge of my seat eagerly awaiting the sequel because that was a cruel cliffhanger. 4.5 stars! *7/25/11 Recently reread and reviewed on Wit & Fancy.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    How you feel about yourself, family, friends and home can change after just one event, one night, and one mistake. How do you forgive and move on when that one mistake caused physical suffering and pain so embedded in your heart you cannot even admit it is there? Where do we even begin? Maybe it takes our worlds completely shattering for us to see the pieces in a whole new way--the pieces and people right in front of us or right next door. Yes, Leaving Paradise has one of my biggest weaknesses—th How you feel about yourself, family, friends and home can change after just one event, one night, and one mistake. How do you forgive and move on when that one mistake caused physical suffering and pain so embedded in your heart you cannot even admit it is there? Where do we even begin? Maybe it takes our worlds completely shattering for us to see the pieces in a whole new way--the pieces and people right in front of us or right next door. Yes, Leaving Paradise has one of my biggest weaknesses—that boy next door! I can never resist a falling-for-the-boy-next-door story! I tell ya—I have been living in all the wrong places! :) Where are these boys? Caleb and Maggie’s story was so heartbreaking and compelling. The idea that the one person who hurt you the most could be the only person to help you heal really hit home for me. They both were such strong, likeable characters with electric chemistry together! This was a very addictive read, so be sure to have Return to Paradise on hand. I could not put it down!

  30. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    This was a beautiful book! I literally read it in just a few hours because I could not put it down, then went immediately to my kindle to read Return to Paradise because I just had to hear more of their love story. This book has been out for awhile and has a ton of reviews already, so I'm not going to write much for that reason alone. I can not say enough how much I recommend it, though, because the message it sends and the heartwarming love story we get to experience are both unbelievably movin This was a beautiful book! I literally read it in just a few hours because I could not put it down, then went immediately to my kindle to read Return to Paradise because I just had to hear more of their love story. This book has been out for awhile and has a ton of reviews already, so I'm not going to write much for that reason alone. I can not say enough how much I recommend it, though, because the message it sends and the heartwarming love story we get to experience are both unbelievably moving. I adored Caleb and Maggie, these characters will hold a special place in my heart. I love reading stories like this, because it makes you look at things from a different perspective and forces you to at least try and grasp why people feel what they do. Leaving Paradise is a thought-provoking, real, butterfly-enducing story that I will never forget.

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