Thursday, March 19, 2009

Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Title: Leaving Paradise
Author: Simone Elkeles
Publisher: Flux
Reading Level: Young Adult, 14+
Publication Date: April 2007
Pages: 303
Amazon Page

Rating: C
Plot - 16/20
Characters - 13/20
Writing - 12/20
Originality - 16/20
Entertainment - 6/10
Recommendation - 4/10
Total: 77/100

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 really was expecting so much more from this novel, so so much more.

The novel started out okay. It kept me interesting with the blunt but honest beginning. But the more I read it, the more things bothered me.

The writing was pretty bad. Not terrible, but just bad. Her writing showed no emotion, no imagery. It was really brusque and tacky. Elkeles didn't leave room for her characters to grow; all Elkeles did was tell a story, nothing more. There was a plot, yes. And a bit of a surprise that was unexpected (Oxymoron much?). But the story didn't change at all through the 200+ pages. The characters never grew. The whole get-up was pretty terrible and poorly crafted.

I really disliked the characters. They were very two dimensional. I didn't feel what they were feeling. I couldn't picture them or their actions in my head. There relationship practically appeared out of thin air. I didn't feel any emotion or personality. Caleb played the 'bad boy' that just got out of jail and Maggie played the 'good, innocent little girl' who got hurt. It was uninteresting and a bit cliched.

The idea of the novel was good though. It was a tad original and it had an interesting plot. The story flowed in fast paced and went smoothly enough. The beginning, middle, and end were established. Overall? I felt this novel could of been a ton better then it was. I wouldn't recommend buying it, trading or anything. If you still want to read it, I would just suggest getting it from the library. It just wasn't an ideal novel that I wouldn't recommend.



  1. It didn't seem so good but I like the plot a lot.

  2. Thanks for the review. I do have it to read, but I'm not expecting a masterpiece. Shame, as Perfect Chemistry is SO good!

  3. Hm, not my type of plot so I don't think I'll ever look into it.

  4. Oh woww. This is a surprise to me, although I must say. The cover doesnt seem really interesting. and I DO judge the book by its cover. Lol.

    thanks for reviewing it tho!

  5. *sigh* An example of a promising plot/story idea gone wrong... thanks for the review.

  6. I just got this book from the library because I really loved Perfect Chemistry. This is the second just okay review about the book I've read..ekk!

  7. I read it. I think its ok. But i don't like it that much either. Because i just cannot keep reading it as much as i do. I just getting bored. And things happen in that book just bother me!!!!!!!

  8. wow i'm glad i read looked at a review of the book before i bought it. i've read like 4 bad reviews for this book. i decided to get it from the library anyway, i hated it and never even finished the book! that was a waste of my time i shoulda listened to you!! thanks for the review! :)

  9. a shame i really thought that it would be better, but its the just the plot that entices you...tut tut

  10. "Leaving Paradise" is the current read aloud book in our English support class. Our students LOVE it.


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