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.
Time can heal wounds. But is it enough to change things between Caleb and Maggie?
Caleb ran over Maggie after a party one year ago, and neither of them walked away from the accident unscathed. Maggie spent months after the accident undergoing physical therapy in attempt to heal her mangled legs, while Caleb served time in juvie. A year has gone by, though, and it's time for both of them to return home- time to face their old lives, friends, and most importantly, each other.
When I read an author's work for the first time and end up loving it, I usually expect their next piece to be just as good, if not even better. They did such an awesome job the first time around, so I have such high expectations for their next books. Because of this, I ocassionally end up disappointed. I loved Perfect Chemistry, and since reading it I became a huge fan of Elkeles'. I loved her writing, her characters, and her storylines! I loved the first book of hers that I've read to pieces, so I was excited to read Leaving Paradise, but nervous, too, because I feared it wouldn't live up to my expectations.
Fortunately, that was not the case. I love the book! Like Perfect Chemistry, it had a gritty story with troubled characters and raw emotions. It was edgy and dark, but beautiful at the same time.
Caleb and Maggie had so much going for them. He was popular, the most desired boy in school; and she was a promising tennis player with an athletic scholarship ahead of her. And in just a few seconds, all that changed. In a few moments, their lives were turned upside-down. They lost so much. They had a year to recuperate, wounds were healed, time was served, but was that enough to sway Maggie's hatred for Caleb?
I loved Maggie and Caleb's relationship. Reading as her feelings for him went from blind hatred to friendship to a little bit more reminded me of the importance of forgiveness, and that everyone deserves a second chance. I also loved how Caleb helped Maggie accept her legs and see herself as beautiful, even though he seemed like the most unlikely candidate to do that at the beginning. Their story was beautiful, the kind that makes you think anything is possible. It certainly made me think that.
Once again, Elkeles delivered with this wonderful book. Spectcacular writing, compelling characters, and an unforgettable story. What more could you want? The only drawback was that the ending was a major cliffhanger- but only because I'm such an eager beaver and I'm dying to know what's in store for Caleb and Maggie. So if I were you, I'd start reading this baby. The sequel to it, Return to Paradise, comes out September 1st!