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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Leaving Paradise

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Source: Personal Bookshelf

Grade: 2.8 stars out of 5

The novel begins with Caleb being released from juvenile jail, but with a weary eye from the authorities. Now Caleb has to figure out how to live in society once again by having to serve community service, but his options are limited in the small town. School isn’t the worst part though even when his friends would always his bring up his criminal status time after time, but it’s his family. It's the father who lets himself to be pushed around by his wife, the mother who likes to pretend that nothing’s wrong, and the sister who is now dressed from head to toe in black. But Caleb is willing to deal with it all…really…until he runs into Maggie that is.

Maggie was his sister’s best friend, that is before Caleb hit Maggie while drunk driving on night that sent him to jail. The accident that left Maggie with scars after countless surgeries, missing a year of school, and feeling like the freak that looks on everyone’s face seem to say. Determined to leave town of Paradise (haha irony) and travel abroad to Spain, Maggie needs a way to pay for the trip when the scholarship she earned gets taken away.

It just so happens that her mother’s boss’s grandmother needs a caretaker and it just so happens that she also needed a volunteer to help construct that gazebo. So will this become the next WWIII or the Battle of the Titans? Or will this pair become the next Cleopatra and Caeser?

In what I believe to be Simone Elkeles’s writing style, she alternates between male and female POV retelling scenes through their different perspectives. This does well at making an emotional attachment to the reader and brings forth the heated tension. However Elkeles seems to write stronger through the male POV in comparison to the female’s. The male voice is much more dynamic, though I have read it seemed force, but it was much more preferable to this love-sick whiny tone I am constantly getting from Maggie.

Leaving Paradise is an unsatisfying novel in my eyes. The ending steals the light I felt with the ending in its extreme abruptness—‘where’s the next page?’ abrupt—and I was left frustrated. It was only recently that there was news of a sequel and I could only think that it really needed one badly. If I had read this 3 years ago when it was first released I would have been much more brutal than I am now. I do love the twist at the end, but I do not love the fact that a friendship was so easily mended.

Cover C
I liked it when I first saw it. Then I read the book and realized Caleb never had a tattoo so why does that guy have a freaking tattoo? Of course if I’m wrong then I’ll just stick my foot in my mouth.


  1. This book sounds and looks so powerful---It's too bad to hear that it didn't live up to expectations! I think I'll still try and read it, though, because I have a bunch of students who love reading about post-juvie stories. Thanks for the review!

  2. 2.8? Ouch lol...Nice honest review but I thought this book was pretty good :)

  3. I loved this book and absolutely hated the ending. I thought Caleb's voice was so powerful and after everything they went through, the last two pages of the book were an insult to the characters and the readers. There's a sequel out this year called Return to Paradise and I'm really happy about that. I want to read more about these two.

    I didn't love the original cover. The new cover is pretty attractive, but every time I see it I think it's more suited for her Rules of Attraction series. I guess the publisher wanted to draw in the fans of that series.


  4. I'm interested in this book but seems like it's not as good as it sounds. Looking forward to your review on the sequel.

  5. I read this book and I have to say that it was one of the best books I have ever read. It is very powerful and gets me sinked into it. I love this book!