Rating: 3.5/5 stars.
Caleb Becker and Maggie Armstrong have spent the last year imprisoned. Caleb, imprisoned in juvenile detention for hitting Maggie while driving under the influence, and Maggie, imprisoned by physical therapy sessions for her damaged left leg that leaves her with a limp. When the two are forced together again after that one fateful night, how will they deal with the guilt and anxiety of trusting the person who’s ruined ruined them forever?
Leaving Paradise possesses an interesting premise, but Elkeles didn’t take the story to its highest potential. Questions of betrayal, forgiveness, and trust are explored, though not to the depth that would have made this book amazing. Caleb and Maggie were good characters, yet they lacked the emotional complexity to make their struggles entirely believable.
The pacing of the plot also left something to be desired – it seemed rushed and too many things fell into place at exactly the right moment. The ending was clearly crafted to leave room for a sequel, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but not a good thing either.
Similar to her books Perfect Chemistry and Rules of Attraction Elkeles’s writing flows without a hitch. However, I did notice the occasional grammar mistake or typo that easily could have been caught by a better editor.
Overall, if you’re a fan of Simone Elkeles I would recommend reading this book. I’m still debating myself whether to read the second book, Return to Paradise.