It’s time for another head to head book faceoff ! These two novels were ones I read months apart and just really didn’t have much to say about. I wasn’t even going to review them but, then I realized they dealt with the same issue; The After. What happens after a traumatic event that shakes not only our protagonist, but also a small town community.
- Genre: Contemporary
- Publisher: Flux
- Pages: 303
- Release Date: April 8th, 2007
Synopsis: Nothing has been the same since Caleb Becker left a party drunk, got behind the wheel, and hit Maggie Armstrong. Even after months of painful physical therapy, Maggie walks with a limp. Her social life is nil and a scholarship to study abroad—her chance to escape everyone and their pitying stares—has been canceled.
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: June 5th 2012
Synopsis: Megan is a miracle. At least, that’s what everyone says. Having survived a plane crash that killed everyone else on board, Megan knows she should be grateful just to be alive. But the truth is, she doesn’t feel like a miracle. In fact, she doesn’t feel anything at all. Then memories from the crash start coming back.
Miracle by Elizabeth Scott
Meg is the lone survivor of a plane crash and when she gets back to her small town of Reardon she is suddenly the town miracle. Her parents and teachers think she can do no wrong, her little brother resents all of her attention and everyone is treating her with kid gloves. Everyone wants to make her feel like everything is all right, but all Meg wants to do is pretend like it never happened.
One of the things that Elizabeth Scott does best in all her novels is create amazing characters. The residents of Reardon have great back story, interesting pasts and depth.You can understand what it is like to leave in this town. However, I wanted a bit more plot wise. Aside from watching the protagonist suffer from some post-traumatic stress,Meg doesn’t really do much of anything through the story and there is nothing to keep you reading. I feel like I was reading a short story instead of a full length novel.
Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles
Maggie is unable to walk after being hit with a car by Caleb, her best friend’s brother, who was drunk at the wheel. Now, a year later Maggie has lost all her friends and walks with a limp, while Caleb is seemingly getting his old life back after serving a year in jail.
Despite the premise this book isn’t very heavy and is told in a lot of quick short scenes. Many of the side characters in this felt like cardboard tropes cut from a high school drama like Kendra (the pretty, popular, blonde “slut”) and Vic ( the bully on the other schools wrestling team). The characters line could get a little cheesy at times, but that aside I did like the sparse narrative writing style of the overall story. Each scene is only a few pages and time moves forward very quickly.
So, who did it better ?
It’s kind of amazing how similar these stories are; both take place in small towns, both feature older women who act as guides, both girls were former star athletes, both feature boys who have been labeled outcasts by the others in town.
While Miracle has better characters and more atmospheric writing, Leaving Paradise ultimately tells a more dynamic story. Leaving Paradise gives us a better sense of the before so we can understand why this change is such a struggle.Not only does Leaving Paradise have the victim, but also the person who made our victim a victim. Which leads to some interesting discussion of how you define a victim. Also, I think Leaving Paradise had a more interesting ending.
Either way, if you are looking for books about overcoming trauma and finding strength within yourself, I suggest both of these titles.
The “smexy” Simon and Schuster UK E-book cover for Leaving Paradise infuriates me. WTF ? The character can’t bend her leg ! I mean that and the scarring on her legs is like a major focal point of this story !
I’m a lifelong reader who started blogging about YA books in 2011 but now I read in just about every genre! I love YA coming of age stories, compelling memoirs and genre bending SFF. You can find me talking all things romance at Romance and Sensibility.