Book Review: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Leaving Paradise by Simone ElkelesTitle: Leaving Paradise
Series: Leaving Paradise, Book 1
Author: Simone Elkeles
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Young Adult
Source: borrowed from a friend
Published: April 8, 2007 by Flux

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.

My Thoughts:

Caleb Beck has been in juvenile detention for the past year. He was drinking and driving and was involved in a hit and run accident.

Maggie Armstrong has spent the past year in hospitals getting surgery and going through painful physical therapy. She used to be best friends with Caleb's twin sister, Leah, and used to have a crush on Caleb. But all that changed when Maggie was struck by the car Caleb was driving.

Caleb has returned to school and realizes things are not the same with his friends or his girlfriend. Maggie makes it clear that she wants nothing to do with Caleb. She just wants to go to Spain for the study abroad program. Unfortunately, since she hasn't been able to play tennis since the accident, Maggie's athletic scholarship has been revoked. She gets a job working for Mrs. Reynolds, her mother's boss's mother, doing odds and ends around the house. And Maggie is not happy to find out that Mrs. Reynolds has hired Caleb to build a gazebo. Maggie and Caleb agree to ignore each other at work.

Caleb and Maggie are not the same person they were a year ago and they both have new obstacles to face. Their friends have moved on. Caleb and Maggie have no one to turn to, not one to trust, expect each other. This unique circumstance puts them in a position they were trying to avoid altogether.

Simone Elkeles does it again! She has mastered the alternating point-of-view narrative. I enjoy this type of narration because I get both sides of the story and it brings everything full circle. You are not left wondering how the other main character is feeling or thinking. It adds depth to the characters and makes the story realistic.

This book has its surprises. Secrets begin to unfold and lives will be forever changed. I will admit that I did not like how the book ended; the reader is left with quite a cliffhanger. I didn't get closure and I didn't get the ending I was looking for. But never fear! The sequel to Leaving Paradise, which has yet to be named titled Return to Paradise, is coming out later this year (November, I believe). I'm getting the sequel as soon as it comes out. I can't wait to read what happens to Maggie and Caleb next!

Brianna’s Rating:
5 Frogs

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About Brianna: Supermom by day, naughty reader by night. Addicted to chocolate, Twitter, her iPad, her Kindle, and 99¢ Kindle deals. You can follow Brianna on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and Instagram.


  1. This is my FAV. Simone Elkeles book, I am SOOO EXCITED to read Return to Paradise, which I can only hope the title means what I think it might. Is it totally weird that I teared up hearing this one's coming out in Nov. and it's got a name? Yeah, weird, but I loved Leaving...I cant WAIT.

    Wonderful review! Sorry I rambled :D

  2. I have been eyeing this book for a while, I think i'm gonna have to pick it up =)
    Thanks for the review!

  3. Love your review! This book has been on my wishlist for a while.. might have to buy it soon! :)

  4. I'm looking forward to the sequel because I loved this book. Simone elkeles is an amazing writer!

  5. This sounds great! Thanks for reviewing this.

  6. Just wanted to let you know, you have an award on my blog. :)

  7. I love cliffhangers, Have I told you I love your frogs

  8. I got so excited when I heard the sequel was coming out because I've been wanting to read this one for awhile but kept hearing people's angst over the ending. Now I won't have to worry. There will be MORE!

  9. Agree with you--great book, ending left me a bit in limbo. That said, Elkeles is great at alternating POV. Another really good alternating POV book I read recently is CHASING BROOKLYN by Lisa Schroeder. Great blog and LOVE the frogs!

  10. I'm happy to find all the people that are in love with Simone Elkeles' books. I really enjoyed this book - as well the sequel - I'm always fond of her characters. I love how this author brings an edge in the story and some funny dialogues.


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