LEAVING PARADISE by Simone Elkeles

April 28, 2010 5 flames 7

Author: Simone Elkeles
Source: Library
  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Flux (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738710180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738710181
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.
After Caleb is convicted of driving while intoxicated and hit and run involving Maggie, both their lives are turned upside down.  Caleb is now known as the ex-con and Maggie is now known as the freak.  Both return to school with low expectations and guilt.  Caleb tries to pick up where things left off in school before he went to jail.  Maggie is devastated after learning she loses her sports scholarship to Spain since she can’t play tennis anymore.  They both come to terms with the way their lives have changed now and fall in love. 
This book was a great read for me.  I loved the characters of Caleb and Maggie.  Caleb was strong and as you read the book, you realize how protective his character really is.  Maggie faces her disability as I think any teen would. She feels ugly and hurt by it all.  The old lady in the book, Mrs. Reynolds, was a great side character that plays a huge part in the book.  She unites Caleb and Maggie again and makes them both realize that accidents happen.  She makes them realize that your life can take different paths, but still have happiness and build character at the same time. The ending was the only thing I didn’t like. I was looking for a happily ever after ending, which is not to say it doesn’t, but like life, its not the ending you expect.  It sets the readers up for a sequel of this great story.
Overall and amazing read that I wouldn’t mind adding to my keeper shelf. 

Outstanding Book That Will Stay On My Bookshelf

For Rereading!

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