by Simone Elkeles
Maggie Armstrong had a crush on her best friend’s twin brother, Caleb Becker. That is until one night, at a party, Caleb hit Maggie with his car and left her broken in the street. It’s a year later and Caleb is being released from juvenile detention, convicted of a hit and run while driving drunk. Maggie has spent the past year in recovery from a devastating leg injury that has left her scarred, with a severe limp, and an outcast. Caleb is returning home, hoping to find that nothing has changed. His family, however, is falling apart at the seams. His girlfriend has moved on to his best friend, and one moment his friends treat him like he’s the same old Caleb and the next like he’s trash. Both Maggie and Caleb have lost everything. Their friends and families have changed because of the accident and no one will ever look at the two of them as they did before.
Maggie and Caleb are keeping secrets about that night, however, secrets that could change everything. Told in alternating chapters, Leaving Paradise, is a fast and emotion filled read. It’s not a cry out loud book, but there is a strong undertone of emotion that takes you on a ride. You feel the anger in both Maggie and Caleb, but you also feel the hopelessness and frustration of each situation. Yes, there is a romance here, but it’s not the center of the book and it is added in at just the right places. Though the ending was not what I expected, I was definitely left satisfied. You’ll love the characters of Maggie and Caleb and feel empowered by how each overcame other peoples’ perceptions of them and in turn became stronger in their own selves.