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Leaving Paradise    by Simone Elkeles order for
Leaving Paradise
by Simone Elkeles
Order:  USA  Can
Flux, 2007 (2007)
* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Caleb Becker has just spent the past year in juvenile detention while Maggie Armstrong has had numerous operations and is now in physical therapy. Their lives have changed forever because of a hit-and-run accident. Maggie was the victim and Caleb was the driver.

Leaving Paradise is told in alternating chapters by Caleb and Maggie as they try to get beyond the accident and go on with their lives. Caleb arrives home from the detention center in time for his senior year at high school. Maggie has finally recovered enough physically to return to the same school.

Maggie and Caleb are strong but flawed characters. Maggie believes her popularity was based on her athletic ability. No longer a star tennis player on the high school tennis team, Maggie avoids her old friends, waiting for her second semester which she'll spend in Spain. Caleb is anxious for things to get back to normal, but how normal can things be when his popular twin sister is now a friendless Goth freak and his ex-girl friend is dating his old best buddy?

Where does forgiveness begin and blame end? This thought provoking story leads to a satisfying conclusion.

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