by Chelsey Philpot
Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins (October 14, 2014)
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When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne's at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about her. Most people do . . . or think they do. Charlotte certainly never expects she'll be Julia's friend. But almost immediately, she dives headfirst into the larger-than-life new girl's world—a world of midnight rendezvous, dazzling parties, palatial vacation homes, and fizzy champagne cocktails. And then Charlotte meets, and begins falling for, Julia's handsome older brother, Sebastian. But behind Julia's self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes, she is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden . . . until now.
I'll admit, I'm not much of a contemporary fan. Although I was interested in this book, I was a bit wary when I started. My fear dissolved by page 20. This book was fantastic and opened my eyes to the potential that all books have if I'd simply give them a chance. Even in Paradise was stunning.
“Even knowing, as I do now, that grace, power, and, yes, love can hide the darkest elements of the human heart, I would do it all again.”
I didn't have high expectations coming into this book. I thought it would just be about snobby rich people and their socialite life styles and rich people problems. I didn't realize that this book is about so much more, it's about friendship and growing up and making mistakes and living with the repercussions, it's about young love and family. The themes of this book are so meaningful, and the story is truly fantastic. It's simple and well executed.
Philpot's writing was dynamite. I loved how she weaved the story. It wasn't about some pretentious rich family that was perfect. It was about a flawed, charming, and caring Buchanan family that was dealing with loss. It was about an outsider coming in and being embraced by the family. The pacing was a bit slow at first but eventually glided through at a great speed. The unexpected twists and turns in the plot made this book even more enjoyable (and emotional). The romance was sweet but not overdone. It was much more about the family and the bonds formed between them and the protagonist which I liked. The story is of a time that's past, a chapter of the main character's life that's ended. It's filled with happiness and anguish but not regret. This story brings out all the emotions.
The characters are so complex and realistic. They (The Buchanans) were all so descriptive and wonderful. Philpot weaved an amazing story that really delved deep into the Buchanans' characters. It was easy to love all of them, and I can see why the protagonist does. The main character is okay, she's quite neutral in my opinion. She didn't help or hurt the story. She was just so bland and dull next to the other characters, but I guess that was necessary to help make the other characters stand out more.
The ending made me cry, not gonna lie. I was so impressed with the use of chiasmus (coming full circle). It made the ending much more bittersweet and wonderful and heartache-y. We knew from the beginning that it would end like this, it still hurt though.
This book was an amazing read that I couldn't help but fall in love with. Truly spectacular.