Sunday, 27 January 2013
Review: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Llewellyn Publications,U.S.
Publication Date: 31/01/2008
Book Description: 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 cancelled. 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.
Review: So this is the first book in the Leaving Paradise series and was nothing short of fabulous. Once again Simone Elkeles has not disappointed. Being a huge fan of her previous works I was anticipating this read and in my opinion this has to be her best book to date.
What I liked: The characters. The characters in this novel were just perfect. Maggie Armstrong the female protagonist is not your typical heroine. She has a limp. I have not read many books where disability is one of the main themes throughout the book and especially not as the female lead, so it was refreshing to read something different, something more.. real in a way. What I love about Elkeles writing is that her characters are not always the typical perfect, sexy leads you would find in many YA books but instead real human beings which we can all relate to. I also loved the male protagonist, Caleb Becker. Ahh what can I say about Caleb. Being totally hot I fell for him straightaway but seeing him go on his self discovery journey throughout the novel really makes you see beyond the two dimensional. Really he was just a young boy who made mistakes like many other boys his age but was also wronged many times, trying to put his family back together and be accepted for who he is not what he did.
The minor characters in this book were not ignored, Leah Becker Caleb’s younger sister also played a unique role as someone who was affected deeply by what happened to her brother and best friend. As a reader it was interesting to see the side affects what such a tragedy can have on loved ones. And we cannot forget Mrs Reynolds. Personally she was my favorite character providing a beacon of light throughout the novel and being a strong good hearted woman.
Now aside from the characters the plot was very well developed. The story begins a year after the accident but throughout the novel we are transported back to that night and learn more and more of what went on. The book is told in both Maggies and Calebs point of view alternating from each. Elkeles writing was very realistic and enticing making you want to read on. The way she depicts the events of the book not sugar coating anything is really something making this read feel really raw and emotional. I have to say after I finished I just sat there for a few minutes really affected by the story line and if a book can make you do that then it has done it’s job.
What I didn’t like: Although I found this book nothing short of spectacular I did feel some parts were very rushed. The pacing was not right. I found this most prominent when Caleb is suddenly in love with Maggie Armstrong. I felt the transition of this could have written a lot better and the reader could have been given more hints that her was falling for her.
I really recommend this book to anyone. If you are looking for a easy read but not something typical then you need to defiantly read this book. Because I have to say the ending was not what you would expect..
I cannot wait to read the sequel, Return to Paradise and look forward to that review very soon!