Author: Simone Elkeles
Published on April 1st 2007
Paperback, 303 pgs.
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.
Wow, what can I say about Leaving Paradise that doesn't sound like gushing..I absolutely freaking loved it! This is actually my second book i've read by Ms. Elkeles, and let me say it is 10x better than Perfect Chemistry, IMO.
The backstory of why Caleb just got out of jail, and Maggie walks with a limp is sad, and you really believe how in the world are these two people gonna find a common ground, and even more, become friends? These two characters are world apart in status, characteristics, yet the pull is strong, and sigh worthy. Caleb is trying hard to deal with the stigma of being a deliquent and at the same time everything, and everybody seems different, when all he wants is for the things to be somewhat normal. Maggie wants nothing more than to escape and leave Paradise where people stare, make fun of, and blame her for sending the ever popular Caleb to jail.
I love gradual change in their relationship, and how they are each to blame for the others predicament, but in a sea of people who are treating them different, they find comfort in each other. The little twist at the end made it even more perfect.
I can't recommend Leaving Paradise enough, and I can't wait to read the second bk, Return to Paradise. It is up there in my favorite books this year.