Monday, September 8, 2014

Book Review: Even in Paradise

Even in Paradise
Published By: HarperCollins
Publication Date: October 14, 2014
Page Count: 368
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via Edelweiss
Audience: Young Adult - Contemporary

Charlotte is a typical high school student thrust into an atypical world. She attends a prestigious all girls boarding school on scholarship. She's observed the daughters of the rich and powerful for years, but she has never truly managed to break into their social circle, but all that changes on the night she meets Julia Buchanan. Julia is the daughter of a political powerhouse and a philanthropist mother. Her entire family seems perfect to the outside view, but once Charlotte and Julia become friends, Charlotte realizes that appearances are often deceiving.

I wasn't sure at the beginning if this was going to be the read for me. I liked Charlotte almost instantly, but as the novel progressed, I did find myself second guessing some of her choices. I also had a difficult time relating to Julia. Her lifestyle and baggage are so vastly different from anything that I have experienced. By the end, I understood Julia a bit better, but she never become a character I loved. Like Charlotte, I had no trouble falling in love with the rest of the Buchanan family. Charlotte states, "The Buchanans' pull was as natural and strong as the moon on the tides, and when I was with them I was happy in the warmth of their reflected light" (Kindle Location 53). This was a perfect way to describe how I felt in the moments with the Buchanans as a reader. 

In spite of not connecting with Julia, I did enjoy watching her friendship with Charlotte evolve. I did feel like Julia took more from the frienship than she gave, but I admired Charlotte's resolve. She never faltered in her loyalty to Julie and The Buchanans. I just wish that Charlotte hadn't forsaken her old friends to focus so much attention on Julia. I liked that by the end of the story Charlotte had found more balance.

There were many allusions to The Great Gatsby and this alone could have kept me turning the pages, but I did find myself immersed in Charlotte's life.  Charlotte even explains her own connection to Gatsby in English class when she says, "That Gatsby tries so hard for his dream. That he wants to be part of Daisy's world so badly that he'll do anything. He believes in her long after he shouldn't. Hope is beautiful" (Kindle Location 1825). In many ways, Charlotte is a symbol for Gatsby and Julia is a symbol for Daisy. Unlike the original, this is not a love affair, but rather a friendship. There is a romance, but it isn't between the girls. 

The last few chapters of this one were brutal. I almost rated this novel a 3 due to the way I felt in the ending chapters. I was emotionally raw. It felt like Philpot had put my heart through a blender. I was angry and heartbroken. I couldn't accept that this was the way Charlotte's story ended. As I lingered on the novel as a whole, I decided it deserved the 4 rating because it did make me feel. If I wasn't emotionally attached to this story and its characters, I would not have had such a visceral reaction.

One Last Gripe: The first section of the novel was a bit slow.

Favorite Thing About This Book: I was swept away by the romance. I also applaud Philpot for making me feel so deeply about her characters.

First Sentence: The Buchanans' pull was as natural and strong as the moon on the tides, and when I was with them I was happy in the warmth of their reflected light.

Favorite Character: Charlotte, but I also loved Sebastian and Cordelia

Least Favorite Character: I didn't have one, but Julia did irk me a lot.

When Julia Buchanan enrolls at St. Anne’s at the beginning of junior year, Charlotte Ryder already knows all about the former senator’s daughter. Most people do... or think they do.

Charlotte certainly never expects she’ll be Julia’s friend. But almost immediately, she is drawn 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 her self-assured smiles and toasts to the future, Charlotte soon realizes that Julia is still suffering from a tragedy. A tragedy that the Buchanan family has kept hidden … until now.


  1. I would love to read this story and see how it plays out for me. I love books that give me feeling! :D

    1. This one certainly put me through an emotional gauntlet: love, happiness, joy, sorrow, pain, loss. It truly was an amazingly frustrating, beautiful read.


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