Simone Elkeles is a genius! I have so much love for her Perfect Chemistry series so when I saw Leaving Paradise at the library I had to pick it up and read it. I'm glad I did because Simone's stories alway appeal to me.
First off, let me tell you about the characters. We have Caleb (I love him!) and Maggie (awesome and strong) who are our would-be couple. In Simone's books there's always a twist as to why the couple can't be together. This time it's because Caleb drove drunk from a party and hit Maggie. He didn't check if she was okay, he just left her there. Maggie was sent to the hospital and resulted in numerous surgeries for her leg and a limp while Caleb had to serve his time at a juvie jail.When I first met Caleb, he garnered very hot and cold reactions from me. I'd like him, but then he'd do something and I'd feel iffy about. Later on in the book though I loved him. He won my respect and trust, plus he was so sexy and protective of Maggie Poor Maggie hasn't had an easy time. The accident left her scared to move on and a loner. She lost her spirit. I really connected with Maggie. Since there were alternating perspectives, I got to see all of Maggie. She's not unlike myself and I enjoyed reading about her reactions
There were other mentionable characters (like Grandma) whom I also liked. I have to mention that there were many characters who were cliché. Normally I hate that but sometimes it works. That doesn't mean I don't want to know more about the characters' motivations and stuff. If that's something that bothers you, you may have a problem with this book.
Another thing I need to mention was the plot and pacing. After being introduced to the concept the plot slowed down. There was a ton of build up and when I look at that 100 in between pages, I don't remember much. At that point there wasn't anything really drawing me in until Caleb and Maggie finally got together and a plot point was revealed. That point right there made so much sense but I never even considered it. I literally reread the page 3-4 times. I love twists being thrown at readers that way. Keeps the story interesting, you know?
All in all, I liked this story. I still adore Perfect Chemistry more but this is a great choice for a contemporary romantic read. I was sucked in, which is my regular reaction with Simone's books but I wasn't totally enamored. I'm really curious to see what happens next. If you're a fan of Simone Elkeles, check Leaving Paradise out! 3.5 stars,
*** & 1/2 *