Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Review: Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Release Date: September 1, 2010
Publisher: Flux
Genre: YA Fiction

The Story: 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.

Cindy's Review: When Caleb left Paradise and Maggie behind he thought he was doing the right thing but if there one thing we've learned about Caleb from Leaving Paradise it's that he doesn't always have a clear understanding of what the right thing to do is. His heart is usually in the right place but he just can't seem to keep himself out of trouble. It's not that he goes looking for it, he just makes some bad decisions and that's where we pick up in Return to Paradise. Caleb was living with some drug dealers when they got busted and even though he wasn't guilty of dealing, he finds himself back behind bars.
Somehow Caleb gets lucky this time though and gets the choice between jail or a summer program for kids who have been affected by reckless driving. Caleb chooses the program and in doing so finds himself face to face with the last person he thought he wanted to see: Maggie.

Of course he still cares about her and misses her and wishes there was a way to work things out between them but instead of sharing all this with Maggie he avoids her, talks down to her and argues with her every chance he gets. Caleb finds himself fighting to stay away from her one moment and hanging on for one more touch the next.

Maggie gives Caleb a run for his money, though, and doesn't let him off the hook quite so easily. She's no longer the shy, nervous girl who couldn't stand up for herself in Leaving Paradise. Maggie has grown emotionally and is determined to show Caleb he can do the same. With a love as troubled as theirs, is there any way to make it back to Paradise?

Kendra's review: I love Simone Elkeles. After reading Leaving Paradise, I was really looking forward to this book, and I was not disappointed.

At the end of Leaving Paradise we saw Caleb leaving town, which meant he was leaving Maggie behind. At the beginning of Return to Paradise, we see where Caleb's decisions took him. And it was as far from Paradise as he could get, literally and figuratively.

When Caleb finds himself in trouble again, he turns to the only person he has left to turn to, Damon Manning, his transition counselor. Damon gets Caleb out of trouble, but he has a condition for Caleb. And Caleb is not looking forward to it. To make matters worse, Maggie is on the same trip. Now Caleb has to deal with trying to live his life the way he thinks it should be lived, as well as trying to stay away from the only thing in his life that has any meaning.

Simone Elkeles has a magical way of writing that makes the reader not only go along for the trip, but experience it as well. I find myself feeling the feelings that the characters are experiencing right along with them. It definitely makes me want a happy ending for the characters. Do Maggie and Caleb get theirs?

Cindy and Kendra both loved this book, and although we both agreed that we liked Leaving Paradise just a little bit more, we collectively give this book 4.5 stars.


  1. Oohhh, now I want to read this even more! Great review. I was waiting for it and I knew you wouldn't disappoint!

  2. Wowzer, Simone has the steamiest covers - this one's a-maze-ing! :D

    I loved Perfect Chemistry, but haven't read any of her other books for fear of not liking them as much. I might have to check Leaving Paradise and Return to Paradise out :)



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