Leaving Paradise

Leaving Paradise (Leaving Paradise, #1)Leaving Paradise (Book 1)

by Simone Elkeles

Flux Publishers 2007

ISBN13: 9780738710181


Plot Summary

Critical Evaluation

Reader’s Annotation

Pain and regret can be difficult to live with. What happens when two teens, scarred for life from the same tragic moment, must face each other again? The only thing more difficult than living the rest of your life with a limp from being hit by a drunk driver is living with the knowledge that you were that drunk driver.

Information about the Author

Simone Elkeles was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She attended the University of Illinois her B.S. in Psychology in 1992. She loves dogs and kids (she has two of each) and her family. In her spare time she’s a Hockey Mom and a Girl Scout leader. She also spends time mentoring other teen and adult authors.

According to the author, she writes about teens “because she was a teen in the 80’s (when spiked hair and blue eye shadow were “rad”) and she loves writing about those exciting teen relationships and romances.”

Genre: Fiction; Realistic Fiction; Romance

Awards: None

Content Area: Community Life-School; Diseases/Disorders-Alcohol Abuse/Addiction; Health & Wellness-Accidents/Prevention; Interpersonal Relationships-Friendship; People-Teenagers

Booktalk Ideas

When Caleb and Maggie get locked in the attic at Ms. Reynold’s house, they are forced to talk – like old friends talk – and pgs. 163-165 are a conversation that is intriguing and painfully tender. As they share their pain during the last year, the isolation of Caleb’s experiences in jail and Maggie’s struggles in the hospital, these two realize that they have known similar misery and they have shared something much deeper than just one tragic moment.

Text Measures/Reading Level:

Quantitative: Lexile Level: 680

Reading Level: 7 and up

Interest Age: 12 and up


Told in alternating voices, this story brings up teen drinking, making responsible choices and living with difficult consequences for both main characters. There is teen angst and although sex, alcohol and Caleb’s love of the F-word are scattered throughout the book, it rings true to his character. There is a palpable anguish these two suffer through together and valuable discussions may arise with readers regarding making mistakes, living with them, and accepting others who may be living with mistakes themselves. This book is well written and has much to offer teen readers.

Always check the American Library Association website for strategies and tips in handling challenges to library materials at http://www.ala.org/bbooks/challengedmaterials/support/strategies

Additional/Digital Content:

Author Website:  www.simoneelkeles.com

Why This Book?

Leaving Paradise is a very popular title in the juvenile detention center where I work monthly but until now I had not read it. I wanted to see if this eight year old book still had relevance and meaning to offer the population I work with.  I can see now why it is so often requested by both the girls and the boys in detention.


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