Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Friday, July 16, 2010

Genre: Young Adult
Synopsis: Caleb Becker is finally getting out of jail. When a car he was driving hit Maggie Armstrong, the first instinct for him was to run. It was an accident, and he also didn't mean to leave her alone. Now he's back, and he just wants his old life back to normal. Maggie wants the same exact thing. She can't walk and can't play sports properly anymore. She has to go to physical therapy regularly, and feels like her whole life has turned upside down. The question is, what will happen when they cross their paths once again? And can their life ever be back to how it used to be? Or are they changed and damaged for good?

Plot: 4 stars
When you first hear what this book is about, you might automatically think it's an overdone plot. While it could have gone to a soap opera-ish direction, I think that Simone Elkeles is one of those authors who truly has this unique ability to make her stories hers and original. That being said, if it was written by someone else, the plot line might have ended up as a total cliche. Fortunately, it did not. The author definitely knows how to put her own twist and her fresh take on seemingly overdone story lines, taking this one to a whole other level.

Characters: 4 stars
This is absolutely a character-driven story, at least to me. It was crucial to have interesting and likable characters -- ones that you will really empathize and sympathize with. For me, Caleb and Maggie were both. I liked them both a lot, for their own strengths and weaknesses in their personalities. I believed in their story, together and apart. I saw their connection, and liked it. It didn't seem as if the author just forced two different teenagers to be together; it just worked well like they were actually real people. If it weren't for them, I don't think Leaving Paradise would be as good as it is.

Cover: 4 stars
The initial cover for this one is right here. I didn't really like it very much, as it doesn't really cover the essence of the story. However, they recently just changed it to the one I am putting on this post, and I am loving the change! I prefer the new one, 100%. It is simple, but intriguing, and it captures Caleb and Maggie's vulnerability and connection.

Writing: 4.5 stars
In my opinion, Simone Elkeles is one of those YA authors that truly knows how to speak to her audience. Her characters are always realistic as teenagers, and I don't feel at all that she is just forcing it. I have read 2 of her novels already and am reading Rules of Attraction right now, and so far she has not done anything wrong.

Overall: 4 stars
I'd hate to compare the two, since they are completely different from each other. But I'm going to go ahead and do it anyway. It is not as good as Perfect Chemistry -- story wise and character wise -- but Leaving Paradise is still fun, light, and an entertaining read. I recommend it after reading the Perfect Chemistry series.


  1. agreed perfect chemistry is on a whole other level but i still loved this book, i felt it had more of a realistic feel!

    you can check out my leaving paradise review here if you like ;)


  2. I've really been wanting to read this book. If it's as half as good as Perfect Chemistry then I'll definitely have to get it soon.