Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Review: Leaving Paradise

Leaving Paradise
By Simone Elkeles
Release Date: April 7, 2007
Series: Leaving Paradise

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.

Imagine if you got into a fight with someone about their girlfriend and you tell them you love them, only later when you're on your way home that person hits you with their car and now you have a limp.  This is the story of Maggie and Caleb. 

We start out with Caleb getting out of jail after serving a year for hitting Maggie (drunk driving after a party).  He's finally free just needs to complete some community service, his hope is that when he gets out and back home that everything will be the same.  A year is a long time and he soon realizes that no one is the same, he feels as if everyone has changed and they need to all go back to the way they were.  But people grow up, grow apart and just deal with things differently.  His mother is popping pills to keep sane, his father is in denial, his sister is now goth and enclosed within her self.  Then there is Maggie the girl he went to jail for hitting.  He ends up working with her and they work against their differences and a relationship blooms.  The feelings he feels for her are so genuine and intense, I loved reading about them.

Maggie feels like a loser because she has a limp and is not in the popular crowd anymore.  She has also lost a year due to surgeries, infections and rehabilitation.  She isn't friends with anyone she was friends with before.  She has no confidence in herself, all she keeps thinking about is getting out of Paradise and going to Spain.  But she loses her sports scholarship because of the accident and luckily finds hope with a nice older lady who wants her to be her companion.  She also happens to be her mother's boss' mother.  They form a relationship and when she speaks Maggie does and low and behold who also happens to come and work with Mrs. Reynolds other than Caleb himself.  That's when the story gets interesting.

Caleb and Maggie are put in a situation where they have to interact on a daily basis, and with this their relationship grows and forgiveness is shown.  Don't get me wrong there are some high points and some low points but it was a great story.  I really can't wait to read the next one because it didn't really end the way I wanted it to end but it definitely has potential.

This is my first on my list for the 2012 TBR Pile Reading Challenge.  I don't have a formal list of all the books I want to read but there are many and this is the first (I'm about to find the second book so I can continue the story).  Happy reading everyone!!

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