Publishing Date: April 8th, 2007
Page Count: 303
Source: Borrowed from local library
Description from Goodreads.com:
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.
Before I started reading Leaving Paradise I wasn't really sure if I was going to like it. I know that I said in the past that I would read anything by Simone Elkeles, because her writing is ingenious, but the description just didn't have me sold. Something about a victim getting close to her attacker irked me and I didn't know if it could actually play out well in the story, but surprisingly it actually worked out great.
Maggie is the victim of a hit and run accident leaving her unable to walk without an obvious limp. Caleb is the one who hit Maggie and is now getting out of juvenile jail. They both are outsiders in their high school all because of this accident and are looking for someone who understands, but the only person who understands them best is each other. This idea in the beginning left me very wary, because I don't know if I would be able to move on like Maggie does. I think what makes it work in this story is that there is a HUGE plot twist that changes everything and it really makes you have a soft spot for Caleb.
I think it also ended up working for me, because the story is told in both Maggie and Caleb's point of views. Hearing both sides of the story really gives you a better perspective of the situation and I don't think I would have liked it as much if I didn't hear both sides. You really get close to both characters and route for both sides in the end. I love how much emotion I felt towards Maggie and Caleb, because I just wanted them to open their mouths and say what they wanted to say to each other.
As always Simone's writing is amazing and I loved the story as a whole. The only thing I didn't really love was the ending. Something happens that doesn't really make sense to me. The truth about everything comes out, but this ending still happens. I didn't understand why it had to end like that, but this is also a series so I mean who knows what's going to happen next.
I really enjoyed this read. It was complex, but the writing was simple and flawless, and I couldn't get enough. There was only one part I didn't love and that was the ending. I just didn't understand why it had to end the way that it did, but hopefully things will be resolved in the rest of the books in the series. In the end I stand by my statement that Simone Elkeles is an amazing author and I will continue to read everything she writes.
Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 4/5
**The books cover, description, and info was all found on Goodreads. A link back has been provided. All other work and ideas are of my own creation. This book was borrowed from my local library.**