Wednesday, 1 October 2014
Paradise by 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 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. But despite the horror of their shared history, somehow Caleb and Maggie can't seem to stay away from each other, with the heat and attraction between them becoming undeniable to them both.
I gave this a 9/10.
I'd never heard of either of the stories contained in this omnibus edition, nor the Author and picked the book up on a whim from the Library and I'm glad that I did.
Paradise is an omnibus edition of Leaving Paradise and Return to Paradise. It's aimed at the YA market but I think it crosses over well. It's the type of book that made me smile when I picked it up to read as I couldn't wait to see where the stories took us.
In the first of the two stories we find out how Caleb Becker was convicted of drink driving one night and knocked over Maggie Armstrong in the process. Unfortunately Maggie's life is not the same, she was a promising tennis player but due to the accident that's all gone out of the window.
As Caleb is released from the young offenders institution and returns to Paradise. His family, Maggie and her family have to come to terms with the fall out from his return.
This is a coming of age story and the reader can see the attraction develop further between Caleb and Maggie. Told in alternate POV, we are drawn in and as secrets are revealed slowly we begin to piece together what actually happened the night of the accident.
In the second of the two stories Caleb Becker has been living close to the line and due to certain circumstances has another brush with the Law. He is offered the chance to go on a ReStart program, where by teenagers are taken on a trip and explain to other teenagers what has happened to them in the past due to drink, drugs and the like. The last person Caleb expects to see on the program is Maggie.
Told in the same alternate POV as before, we are again reading about the relationship developments between the two main characters but we have several secondary characters who provide a comedy side to the story.
I really enjoyed reading about Caleb and Maggie, and their on/off relationship. Caleb acted in good faith and you can't help feeling sorry for him. He was the one who made the decision he did and what happens as a result of this is down to him. Maggie was an innocent bystander who became involved due to the accident. They both suffer in different ways due to the accident and the fall out from it.
I loved the writing style and there was a great mix of narrative and dialogue. I think it's a very thought provoking book and wonder what we would have done had we been in their shoes, etc.
I look forward to reading more books by this Author.