Saturday, April 16, 2011
Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Leaving Paradise is told from the varying points of view of the two main characters, Caleb and Maggie. Both live in a town called Paradise and both have a shared past that keeps them a part but that is also what brings them close together. Caleb is returning to Paradise from prison where he went after being charged for being behind the wheel of the car that struck Maggie and damaged both her legs. The story starts with him finding out he is to be released. The closing line is, "Tomorow I'm going home" (Elkeles 8). Maggie used to be an athlete and the top of her school. She had one secret: that she was in love with her neighbor and best friend's brother, Caleb. After the accident she became an outcast. She could no longer play tennis because she had a horrible limp. She went to physical therapy but would never be able to move as she used to. When Caleb returns, he comes back to a dysfunctional family. His mother is a drug addict, his father is in denial and his sister now dresses completely in black and tries to avoid everyone. He goes back to school and is automatically accepted back into his old group. Appearance wise, everything seemed perfect, but Caleb did not want everything to go back to normal. It takes an old neighbor who receives help from both Maggie and Caleb, an entire school who cannot see either of them as who they truly are, and a life of secrets, for Maggie to finally get what she used to want. She thought she hated Caleb, but when she realized he was the only person as damaged as her, they began to secretly see each other. In the end, both are faced with major decisions. Caleb could no longer watch his family falling apart. The truth about the accident came to life. Also, they discovered that teenage love could not in fact conquer all. In the end they had to choose between each other and their families. One of them faces the prospect of running away. 1.) If you were injured in an accident like Maggie, would you ever be able to forgive the person who took away your ability to walk normally? 2.) Caleb's life is all about appearances. If you were in his situation, would you be able to handle all the pressure, or would you be tempted to rebel as he tries to do?