Publisher: Flux (September 1st, 2010)
Reading Level: Young Adult
Paperback: 302 pages
Series: Leaving Paradise #2
Rating: 5 of 5 stars
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.
We all know that Simone Elkeles is a brilliant author. Her stories are always raw, honest, and emotional. I picked up Leaving Paradise (book 1) after reading the first two books in her Perfect Chemistry series and while I didn't fall in love with this story as much as those, it was still amazing.
I was excited to see where Caleb and Maggie end up after finishing Leaving Paradise but it took me a while to get to read this book. I was still able to dive right in and pick up where book 1 left off without being confused or forgetting many of the details. Return to Paradise takes place 8 months after Caleb left Paradise. He has tried to escape the town, his parents, and the pain of seeing Maggie. But, as we know, you can't hide from your problems. Caleb is soon in trouble again and his own real option is to go on a summer trip with some other teens.
Maggie has somehow gained even more strength since Caleb left. She was hurt, but found ways to heal. She even joined a summer trip to help share her story of the accident, but she never expected to see Caleb there.
When Caleb and Maggie see each other again I could literally feel their anxiety. As much as they may have thought they had moved on, it was obvious that the feelings were still there. I admired Maggie's determination and resistance of Caleb. He attempted to push her buttons but she remained composed and refused to let him rule her emotions. The trip opens up the thing they each tried to keep locked up -- the accident and what happened after Caleb got out of the juvenile detention center. But, with some help from the other teens on the trip, they do eventually learn a lot about themselves.
Endings can make or break and entire book for me. I despise if an ending (especially of an entire series) is rushed. I was extremely satisfied with this ending. I obviously won't say what happened, and there are several surprises, but it was gratifying.
Don't think that this is just a clear-cut story. Simone placed a lot of surprises and twists along the way. And, we meet some new characters that bring a lot of life to the story.
Recommended: Contemporary readers looking for something with a deeper plot. Read Leaving Paradise first. Also, if you haven't checked out Simone's other series, Perfect Chemistry, go do that..NOW!