Monday, August 8, 2016

Return to Paradise - Review

Return to Paradise (Leaving Paradise, # 2)

By: Simone Elkeles

Published: September 1st 2010 by Flux

291 pages

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Source: Borrowed from the library

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Goodreads description--Caleb Becker left Paradise eight months ago, taking with him the secret he promised to take to his grave. If the truth got out, it would ruin everything.

Maggie Armstrong tried to be strong after Caleb broke her heart and disappeared. Somehow, she managed to move on. She's determined to make a new life for herself.

But then Caleb and Maggie are forced together on a summer trip. They try ignoring their passion for each other, but buried feelings resurface. Caleb must face the truth about the night of Maggie's accident, or the secret that destroyed their relationship will forever stand between them.

The Sequel to LEAVING PARADISE From the New York TimesBestselling Author of RULES OF ATTRACTION

Praise for Leaving Paradise
"Elkeles writes convincingly about family tensions, retreating from painful reality, and teens outgrowing their old skins." —School Library Journal

"Elkeles creates raw emotions, dialogue, and high-school ambience that’s just right… [A] delicate, delicious love story."—Booklist

Okay so we found out at the end of Leaving Paradise that Caleb wasn't actually the one who hit Maggie the night that changed everything. Instead his twin sister Leah did and Caleb decided to take the fall for it. I loved how Simone Elkeles played up Caleb being the hero and taking the fall throughout the entire story of Leaving Paradise. However, Caleb's come to a place where carrying the blame for something he didn't do is leaving him with nothing but bitterness. This reminds me of Defending Taylor where I was mad at Taylor for becoming bitter when the boy she took the fall for didn't stand up and take responsibilty for his actions because he never asked her to take the fall for him. She volunteered. And while Leah did come to Caleb for help, she also didn't really ask him to take responsibilty either. Yet, there's a big difference between getting kicked out of some fancy private school and going to jail for a year and having a permanent record as a convicted felon. I think Caleb's case is a bit more serious. However, it did make me rethink my harsh judgment of Taylor's feelings. Caleb's guilty verdict in this accident has changed every single relationship in his life. And at the place where we begin Return to Paradise none of these changes were for the better. It's no wonder that he's become bitter by the way everyone acts like he was bound to end up in this place because he's such a bad person when he never did the crime they believe him to have committed in the first place. When who you are as viewed by the world is based on a lie there's no wonder when you feel like no one knows you and no one understands you. You can't keep a secret like this forever and come out unchanged by it.

Maggie realized at the end of Leaving Paradise that it wasn't Caleb's fault. Yet Caleb leaves Paradise because he doesn't trust Maggie with this secret. While he's gone, Maggie makes peace with Leah. She's made peace with her new life, her new phyiscal limitations. And she's planning a trip to Spain (again). But before she goes, she's joined up on a program to travel around to schools and camps and programs to share with others how reckless driving has impacted her life. What she didn't expect was for Caleb to be assigned to this program as well in exchange for keeping him out of jail--for real this time, not juvie.

Caleb has a real chip on his shoulder and he must work through his feelings and the truth about the accident in order to move forward. He must find a way to trust Maggie--and others--with the truth. He needs to confront his sister to let her know what bearing her guilt has really cost him. He needs to patch things up with his parents. Maggie has a few things to work out on her own too. Caleb not trusting her and leaving is a repeat of her father's actions. She has to work through how family is often the people who choose to be in our lives and not always those we share blood with. And I absolutely loved that Maggie is the shining example of how to move forward and offer forgiveness for Caleb. She forgave Caleb when she thought it was him that caused the accident, and she forgave Leah when she remembered the true events of the night as well. Kudos to her for being able to do what so many others wouldn't.

Return to Paradise had a lot of ground to cover. There was much conflict that needed to be worked through and overcome. But I blew through it all. I couldn't stop reading. And Simone Elkeles covered each piece in a way that felt authentic and allowed me to experience the emotions of the characters. I very much enjoyed Return to Paradise. This series and this book was exactly what I was in the mood for at the right time. Return to Paradise gets 4 Stars. Have you read Return to Paradise? What did you think? Let me know!

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