Published: 1st April 2007
Genre: YA Fiction, Contemporary
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 cancelled. 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 have been looking at this ever since I read Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction. Having loved them both I wanted to read some of Simone's work. So I finally got Leaving Paradise and even though I did like it, it just didn't grab me like the Perfect Chemistry books.
Leaving Paradise follows the story of two characters. Caleb who after spending a year in Juvinille Jail for a hit and run he finally comes home and everything has changed in his family home. Maggie is the girl who was involved in the accident. She used to be an tennis superstar school. However, even after a year and surgery she still in pain and walks with a limp. Caleb and Maggie and thrown together working for Mrs Reynolds and soon the two are helping each other deal with the pain.
I was drawn to both Caleb and Maggie in this story. Caleb is the "tough guy" but deep down you know that even though he has been in jail its isn't harden him. He still cares for his family even though his family are mess. As the story continues the truth involving the accident is revealed and I was just sitting with my mouth wide opened. And it really makes you think and care for Caleb even more. Maggie, well its hard not to feel for her. She is been through much her life has been turned upside down. At the start Maggie sometimes does come across as playing the "Victim" letting the accident control her life. However, thanks to Mrs. Reynolds and Caleb, she starts to take control of her life. I have to say I think Mrs Reynolds was my favourite character. She doesn't beat around the bush about things she just tells you like it is.
The story I found it quite slow to start but about a quarter way into the book it picks up and flows very nicely. Simone really is a genius when it comes to story telling. She has a way with words that really make the feelings going through the characters really believable.
Leaving Paradise really is a must read for those who like contemporary fiction. I really wished I picked with up alot sooner and can't wait to get started on Return to Paradise. However, just a little warning have some tissues handy I was crying like a baby at one point I couldn't even see.
There is a some bad language in this story and some sexual references so I feel it would be for those who are aged 14 and upwards.