Sunday, September 25, 2011

Review: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Publisher: Flux

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


I thought this was alright. I've read Simone's Perfect Chemistry series, and while I didn't enjoy the first, I liked the other two more than this one. I still quite enjoyed it, though.
The characters were their own, as they usually are. But Maggie seemed to have more of her own character than Caleb did. But Elkeles always seems to write different female characters but the males always seem very alike. They have their differences, just enough to make them different, but they tend to always be somewhat stereotypical bad boys. They always have something to do with gangs, or something dangerous, and want distance from the girl, for whatever reason. This bothers me, but I'm not always the biggest fan of bad boys.
Her stories also tend to have the same structure. Something happens to bring them together and break them apart and then bring them back together. I know this, but I still enjoy them. Her stories are a guilty pleasure of mine.
I generally did like this story, and it was it's own. I liked Maggie, for the most part, although she got on my nerves some times, with her embarrassment for example, but she got better near the end when she decided not to run away from things, although it seemed to come to her too fast. I liked Caleb, as well, although he frustrated me when he decided to run away from things at the end of the book. I liked them together, and of course am looking forward to seeing how things work out for him.
Mrs. Reynolds, also, was a very good character, and it was upsetting what happened with her, but it makes sense and there were signs, even if I didn't like it. She also was a reason for them to get together, and she helped Maggie grow up.
One thing that bothered me, though, was the accident. What happened with it afterward. It makes sense that Caleb didn't do it, and it explains why his sister was acting the way she was. But, I don't think it really gave much of an idea that that was what was wrong. Of course, it explains Leah and why she was acting the way she was and didn't want to be near Maggie. But every time Caleb thought about it before we were told what had happened, it didn't show us that the problem was that Caleb didn't hit her. He talked about something not being right and all, but he always said that he was the one who hit her, that he was the one who did that to her. I think that could have been done a little better, while still not giving it away too early.
I enjoyed this book and did want the next book quickly, so I was kind of glad I waited till the next one was out to read it.

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