Thursday, September 16, 2010

Book Review: Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles

One of the reasons why I love modern young adult lit so well is that it tackles subjects and issues that teens deal with all of the time without apology. Sure, there were some great YA authors when I was a teen, but there was nothing like Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles.

Every year around homecoming and prom, I become nervous. I know what it's like to be a teen and I know that I made some poor choices when I was younger. But I lived through my poor choices. I worry that my teens (as in my students) will not survive theirs.

Hopefully, books like Leaving Paradise will make their way into the hands of teens and show them the consequences of a seemingly small decision--driving after too many beers--in a way that allows them to work through the after affects without having to go through them personally.  Leaving Paradise is about a boy who makes a life-changing decision after drinking heavily at a party. Because of his choice, which was made in a plot second, he has to spend one year of his life in jail. And the rest of his life will be spent thinking about the girl who put him there.

Her name is Maggie. She was walking home after the party and did not see the car coming at her until she had already been hit. One year later, she is still in pain and her post-surgery gait draws stares and giggles from her classmates. Once popular and athletic, she is now afraid to go to school.

But, when Caleb gets out of jail early, both will have to face each other and the events of that tragic evening. This is a moving book that I won't soon forget. I plan to read the sequel, Return To Paradise, so that I can see what happens with these characters.


  1. I am enjoying your blog. New follower. How's the school year going so far?

  2. I have heard that this both this and the sequel were really good reads. You are certainly right that these types of books that deal with the issues are great for the kids. You can image if you didn't have anything like this to read what it was like for me who probably has at least 25 years on you. Thanks for the review.

  3. I've heard fabulous thinks about Simone Elkeles, and I actually own a few of her books, but I've never gotten around to reading them. This review really makes me want to pick up Leaving Paradise though!

  4. Thanks for sharing your review! One small decision really can alter the course of your life. I had mixed feelings about Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles, but your review makes me look forward to picking up Leaving Paradise.

  5. This book looks good. Great review, I will have to add it to my TBR pile which thanks to all the wonderful book bloggers out there, you included will never end! Which I don't mind! Gives me something to look forward to!
    Thanks for joining the September Spectacular!

  6. What a great review! I have been reading many of Simone Elkeles' books, but no one has been so clear like yours. I mean, I just bought Perfect Chemistry, and now I feel like I have to buy Leaving Paradise too, okay? Haha. I can't wait to read these books, seriously! Thank you for sharing. :-)

    From CEP.

  7. This sounds like a great book. I REALLY want to read Perfect Chemistry, but now I am starting to think I want to read everything by this author.

  8. Also participating in the September Spectacular Challenge. I so agree that there was not the variety of YA books out there when I was young either - in fact I'm not too sure that there was any such category. A great review, thanks for the recommendation.



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