Review: Leaving Paradise-Simone Elkeles

2/5 Stars

Leaving Paradise (Leaving Paradise, #1)-Simone Elkeles


I want to scream at him for leaving me. I want to run up to him and forget being sane. Let us live in the streets together. As long as we’re a team, nothing can bring us lower than we were apart.

Plot: Maggie and Caleb use to be friends, but that was before he drunkenly smashed into her with his car and left her for dead. After her hit and run, Maggie suffered through over a year of surgeries that left her with a permanent limp and hideous red scars. Maggie’s life will never be what it was before the accident, she’s a freak and a cripple to her peers and she’ll never be able to wear shorts or a dress again. Caleb’s poor decision landed him in jail. He’ll never get the last year of his life back and all because of an accident. He knows he shouldn’t blame Maggie for his lost year but he does. When Caleb and Maggie see each other again, fury escalates into tears and promises of eternal hatred. Maggie will never forgive him for what he’s done and he can’t help but give into the urge to verbally hurt Maggie because of his stint in jail. Caleb is welcomed back into their high school with open arms by the popular crowd that Maggie use to be part of and now Maggie is just someone to laugh at. Maggie feels incredibly alone and she wants her old life back more than ever. She resents Caleb for his easy return to his past, a past that she can’t get back. When Maggie gets a job helping old Mrs. Reynolds in order to get money for a trip to Spain, she is surprised to come face to face with Caleb, who is hired by Mrs. Reynolds to work off his community service. At first Maggie and Caleb ignore each other but after getting trapped in the attic, things start to change. Maggie doesn’t know why she’s drawn to Caleb after all he’s done and Caleb, even though he’s got his beautiful ex to hook up with, can’t stop thinking about Maggie. This is a story of forgiveness, of starting over, and giving in to love.


  • Maggie is a strong character, although she doesn’t really seem like one at first. In the beginning she doesn’t try as hard as she should, she lets her anger over the accident consume her and many people would think that this is just something she needs to get over and move on with her life. It’s Maggie’s anger that makes her powerful. When she’s mad she let’s out her most truthful, heartfelt, and deeply desperate thoughts about her self-image, her insecurities, and her unhappiness with the hand she’d been dealt after the accident. She deserves to be angry and to yell, to not forgive. In seconds her entire future was altered by someone else’s idiotic choice. It’s completely unfair and she should scream about it. She can’t play tennis anymore, she can’t even wear girl clothes. It’s tragic when she goes dress shopping and can’t wear cute cocktail dresses because of her scars. While Maggie does forgive too quickly, it is through her anger that she learns to love and gains the ability to make the most of her life, to try harder, and to not give up on her dreams despite her disability.
  • Mrs. Reynolds is a brutally honest, funny, kind woman with a lovely past. She’s not afraid to insert her opinion and force people to face their problems.


  • There was no build up towards their love, at least on the part of Caleb. Maggie had a childhood crush on Caleb that only simmered because of her conflicted emotions over the fact that he left her to die after the hit and run. It makes sense that Maggie, once she started being okay with herself would let Caleb back into her heart because it was an accident and her love helps her forgive him. Caleb is racked with guilt over Maggie’s torment but he says harsh, hurtful things to her that earn him a spot as the biggest jerk in the book and suddenly he’s head over heels for her? It makes zero sense. There should have been more interactions, more time, and more signs of Caleb’s attraction. It was lacking in the foundational gradual heightened sexual attraction and spiritual connection that blossoms into love.
  • The insults to Maggie were beyond mean, they were scathing, heartbreaking taunts that were so painful that I cringed, each and every time shocked at the cruelty.
  • The change in Maggie’s peers was startlingly quick. One moment they’re concerned, pitying her for her broken body and the next they have their claws out ready to attack. Because Caleb is out of jail her injuries are forgotten and she’s belittled for playing the victim when she was victimized and poor Caleb’s life was ruined because Maggie was being selfish? WHAT?! This was all sorts of messed up and isolating,making nearly every character unlikable.
  • Caleb is an ass. Besides some fleeting compassion for Maggie, he spent most of the book trying to forget she exists, hooking up with his ex on the side who is now dating his best friend when he knows Maggie can see him from her window. He completely disregards other people’s pain and thinks (for the most part) only about himself and if he does think about the wellness of other people it’s only to benefit himself. He’s absolutely selfish and definitely not the heroic, sexy male protagonist that he is played up to be.
  • It’s unrealistic and unimaginable that Maggie would forgive Caleb so quickly. Her life was destroyed by his stupid decision to get wasted and drive and she forgets that almost instantly because they’re both suffering?!
  • Leah has got to be the most pathetic, sorry excuse for a best friend ever.
  • The ending was predictable.

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