Return to Paradise by Simone Elkeles

Yes I know…  didn’t I just read Leaving Paradise?  and don’t I have ten million other books that I should or rather want to read?  Well…  when it comes to a book that you love and you know there’s another out there that follows it -um…  can I really say NO?  Come on now – you all know what I’m talking about!  It just happened that my daughter and I “happened” to go to our local Chapters…  and I tell you this book JUMPED off the shelves and landed in my arms!  It refused to leave me until I took it to the cash register…  Silly maybe – but I’m sure that many of you avid readers know exactly what I’m talking about.

So…  yes I really liked this one as well.  Simone Elkeles just has this way with her writing that throws you in the middle of her characters’ lives and you’re left living through all their heartache and pain.  And before anyone asks – yes I cried with this book as well!  I just love Caleb and Maggie… and the different ways that Fate intervened in their lives.  I also love the lessons that are to be taken away from these 2 books.  I think I remember an email from the YALSA list a while ago looking for title suggestions for young adults in detention centres or in jail – well this one definitely fits the bill!!!  AWESOME!  Are you getting the hint yet?  I LOVED these 2 books.

So – what happened in this one?  Again fate has her way and has managed to throw Caleb and Maggie into an impossible situation, the re-START program.  A program where 6 young adults travel to different youth facilities and talk about their journeys.  Neither knew they’d be there – so after a quick confrontation they both decided to give it a go.  The two of them along with their program mates learn so much about the truths of life and its hardships.  I don’t want to give too much away, especially if you haven’t read the first book.

I absolutely loved the role each of the characters played in having the “truth” come out in the end.  How each learned from the other and was a willing, in the end, partner in each others’ lives.  Ok I’ll stop ranting and raving!!

Highly recommended

Ages: 14 and up

Favourite quotes:

“I’m ready to live my life without regrets.  I’ve just got to figure out a strategy to make that happen.”   (Caleb)  p. 151

” ‘ Don’t waste a single day thinkin’ you’re a geek, or you might as well be locked in here like me.’ ” (Maggie) p. 156

“One of my professors said if you tiptoe into cold water, you’re missing out on the rush of plunging in headfirst.”    p. 288

Elkeles, Simone. (2010). Return to Paradise.  Woodbury, MN: Flux


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