This review contains spoilers. Please do not read if you do not want to read a spoiler for book 1 and 2.
I’m going to do one review for both of these books instead of two separate ones. I love the Young Adult genre and so I was actually disappointed in these books , they did not live up to my expectations. This is a hard review for me to do as I’m undecided on what to rate these books. I want to say 2 Stars but then I did read the 2nd book Return to Paradise after I finished Leaving Paradise, so there must have been something I like to continue on. I believe the reason I continued on was just because I wanted to know what happened and if the truth came out in the open but by the end of the 2nd I really did not care.
Leaving Paradise – Simone Elkeles
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.
Rating: 2 Stars
Return to Paradise – Simone Elkeles
Caleb Becker left Paradise eight months ago, taking with him the secret he promised to take to his grave. If the truth got out, it would ruin everything.
Maggie Armstrong tried to be strong after Caleb broke her heart and disappeared. Somehow, she managed to move on. She’s determined to make a new life for herself.
But then Caleb and Maggie are forced together on a summer trip. They try ignoring their passion for each other, but buried feelings resurface. Caleb must face the truth about the night of Maggie’s accident, or the secret that destroyed their relationship will forever stand between them.
Rating: 2 Stars
I will start this review off with what I liked about this book, the writing was good. It did suck you in what you wanted to know what happens next. Simone Elkeles developed Maggie’s character well, as I could see her growing as a character, but I also had a issue with Maggie’s character too. I have never been in a situation such as hers but I do not know if I could forgive and try to be in a relationship with the person who was responsible for the accident and caused me to have a permanent limp. Sure there is a twist in the book but that did not make it any better in my opinion.
I found the relationship between the two odd, I genuinely thought the only reason Caleb look towards Maggie was because he found out the truth, that Maggie did not lie to him on the night of the accident, his girlfriend was actually cheating on him with his friend. In Leaving Paradise Caleb was ok as a character, I did not hate him but Caleb as a character was ruined for me in Return to Paradise.
He was mean for no reason especially to Maggie, would you really try to humiliate the girl you like and degrade the beautiful moments you spent together into nothing more than making out/fooling around? I honestly wanted to slap him. He was moody, and he was missing what little charm he had in Leaving Paradise. I really wanted to say to Caleb that yes I understand you’ve been jail and are not talking to your family and you believe your life is crap but try to move on, try to make it better. It’s not going to get better by it’s self you need to work to make it better and not put yourself in situations that will get you in trouble. He also would me up when he was unreasonable about Matt (one of the other characters in Return to Paradise who had a interest in Maggie) liking Maggie. Caleb thought that he was the one who should be with Maggie, well that’s fine then act like it. Be nice to her and look after her like Matt did, you cannot be jealous of him if you are being a total tool towards her. I liked Maggie more in Return to Paradise, she is trying to move on and be stronger. She is the only reason I gave this book a 2 star rating.
I know it works out in the end and it a happy ending and Simone Elkeles tried to turn Caleb around and make him more of a sensitive character but it was just too late in my opinion, by the end of the book I really did not care what happens. The only saving grace in both books was the writing and Maggie. I know I haven’t elaborated on the story line as I do but the reason behind this is because the synopsis pretty much sums it up and there’s not much to add on it. I am just disappoint with this read and there were points I nearly put the book 2 down and not pick it back up, It’s not one I personally recommend but if you like what you’ve read then give it a read.