From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up–This emotionally honest, fast-paced sequel to Elkeles's Leaving Paradise (Flux, 2007) reads like a stand-alone novel. In that book, Caleb Becker assumed responsibility for the drunk-driving accident that left Maggie Armstrong with a permanent limp, and he endured a year in juvenile detention. He came home to begin again, but after a brief but intense relationship with Maggie, he left Paradise once more. In this book, Caleb's transition counselor plans to have him join a group called “Re-START,” conducting meetings and presentations designed to help teens make smart choices. This program lands him face to face with Maggie, and over the course of the summer they work through feelings of anger, frustration, tension, attraction, and affection. Their relationship is played against the backdrop of the other members of their group. Written from Maggie's and Caleb's alternating perspectives, the conversational narratives occasionally contain vulgar language, but they give readers insights into the way the characters think, feel, and act toward one another. Teens will be compelled to continue reading as the angst is vividly played out with all its raw passion, desire, tension, trust, loss, and gain. Maggie and Caleb are great characters, and the supporting cast provides a much-needed backdrop of support and guidance. Maturity and responsibility for one's actions are also important themes. Elkeles gives readers a thoroughly satisfying novel and much to think about.–Robert A. Zupperoli, Warren Harding High School, Brideport, CTα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Separated by the car accident that left Maggie with a permanent disability and sent driver Caleb to jail for hitting her, the two teens are surprised to encounter each other in Re-START, a monthlong program where teens talk about how their lives were changed by reckless driving. Everyone wants to keep them apart, but they end up in a van with four other teens and a program counselor. Only Caleb and Maggie know that although he did the time, he didn’t commit the crime. Is a month long enough to undo the damage inflicted by the accident, their families, and each other? This sequel to Leaving Paradise (2007) continues the alternating-chapter approach, which invites readers to experience the story from both perspectives. Elkeles also sticks to the midwestern setting and briefly brings back a few characters from the first book. The language is spare, and no time is wasted on peripheral or tangential information, lending a starkness to the story. This novel will appeal both to boys, for Caleb’s toughness and his situation, and girls, for the steamy romance. Grades 9-12. --Cindy Welch