Andrea thebusybibliophile's Reviews > Leaving Paradise

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
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's review
Nov 11, 2011

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bookshelves: kindle
Read from January 27 to 31, 2012

Maggie’s back home after recovering from her surgery and all she wants to do is leave. She’s tired of people looking at her as though she’s different, so she’s saving up for a year abroad where she can disappear into the crowds and be a nobody. Caleb is tired of his mom acting like nothing’s wrong, his sister acting as though someone’s died and everyone at school acting as though he might do something crazy. He just wants everything to go back to the way it was. They end up working at the same house and I’m sure you can guess what happens next.

I have to admit, I was slightly disappointed in this one, only because I went in expecting something as spectacular as Perfect Chemistry. I did enjoy the book, but it didn’t stay with me like PC did. I wasn’t crazy about Maggie’s character from the beginning. I certainly felt sorry for her and all the was going through, but I also felt like she was a bit on the whiny side. She hated her limp but whined through the physical therapy that would have helped it. I didn’t understand why she put up with the mean girls who made fun of her. She just kept her head down and took it, counting on her year abroad to make her life all better. And though I felt sorry for Caleb, coming back into a fractured family, he seemed to think he would just drop back into his life right where he left it. It was unrealistic for him to expect nothing to have changed. Plus, he was kind of a manwhore. I liked Mrs. Reynolds, the old lady that employed Caleb and Maggie. She was quirky and knew it. She was also wise and knew the two of them needed to forgive each other and move on. I wonder what would have happened to their characters if she hadn’t been there to move them along.

I liked the way every chapter was told from an alternating point of view, from both Caleb and Maggie. Elkeles did the same thing in PC and she really knows how to make it work. I never wondered what they were thinking or wished I could see something from someone else’s point of view. The dialogue was average, nothing too extravagant or unbelievable. I thought the plot was great, what a unique way to have 2 people thrown together and fall in love.

The love story itself didn’t really draw me in and make me care, but it felt very real and natural. Maggie and Caleb didn’t even want to be in the same room with each other and you could feel the tension as they slowly warmed up to each other and began to care. The tenderness Caleb finally showed to Maggie was so sweet and mostly made me forget about his manwhorish ways. The big truth that was finally revealed happened near the end and didn’t seem to really affect anyone the way I thought it would. It was almost a non event.

I really like the cover for this one, it’s very understated and yet seems to tell a story. It matches the tone of the book perfectly.

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