Return To Paradise – Simone Elkeles

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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.

When Caleb left Paradise eight months ago, he thought he was doing the right thing. For himself, for Maggie, for his family. Paradise was full of bad memories, and trouble seemed to find him wherever he went. Turns out, trouble seems to find him no matter where he is. Caleb is one of those accidental bad boys – he does everything he can to keep his nose in line, but somehow, he always ends up in the middle of the most horrible situations.

That’s how he wound up on this stupid summer program. Although he wasn’t dealing, he ended up in the middle of a drug bust – a huge miscommunication that he couldn’t talk his way out of – and it was either back to juvenile hall (for yet another crime he didn’t commit) or attend this program for kids affected by drunk driving. Caleb chooses the program.

What he didn’t expect, though, was to come face to face with Maggie – his ex. He never really got over Maggie, and he thought that leaving Paradise would be the best thing for her, but standing in front of her now, actually looking into her eyes, Caleb realizes he let the one good thing that’s ever happened to him go. What a blustering idiot. But Caleb, being Caleb, doesn’t try and make things right with Maggie in the conventional way. He antagonizes her, constantly offends her, and insults her again and again and again. But that’s Caleb for you – emotionally stunted.

When Caleb shows up on the program, Maggie almost can’t believe her eyes. Where has he been for the last eight months? Why didn’t he call to say that he was safe? How could he have just left her like that? In the wake of Caleb’s departure, Maggie fell into a deep depression, but she made it through the other side and forced herself to move on. Move on from Caleb, move on from everything they shared together.

But standing in front of him right now … God, how could this be happening?

While Caleb and Maggie air their dirty laundry in front of their group members, they realize that they’re still very much in love. They’re hurting, and stumbling blindly through each day, but they still love each other. That should be all that really matters, but the big question is, how can they possibly make it, when the entire world is stacked against them?

I’ve said this before, and I’m sure I’ll say it many times again – Simone Elkeles rocks my yaReads socks off! I fell in love with Caleb in Leaving Paradise, but now I’m completely beyond help. I am a Caleb addict. He is, without a doubt, my favorite Elkeles character to date. He’s so messed up, so emotionally deficient, but at the same time, he knows exactly who he is, what his limitations are, and where his strengths lie.

During this novel, Maggie becomes a force to be reckoned with. She was meek, shy, and lacked any kind of confidence in Leaving Paradise. It’s clear she’s grown a whole lot since Caleb left, and she’s got her boxing gloves on, ready to go as many rounds as she needs to get the absolution and the closure that she so desperately wants. She’s strong, intelligent and utterly believable in everything she does. When it comes to the crunch, though, Maggie’s underlying essence is still there, and she follows her heart – even when she probably shouldn’t.

There’s only one thing you need to know about this book: it’s absolutely fabulous in every single way.

Simone Elkeles is fast becoming on my fave YA authors around.

Publication Date: August 2010

Pages: 285

Rating:[rating:5]

Teaser Quote: I remember the times we spent together working at Mrs Reynolds house, when we fooled around in the gazebo and I ran my hands over her smooth, milky soft skin. “You knew I didn’t hurt you, but you let me go along thinking that you did. How could you?”

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