I had high hopes for Leaving Paradise by Simone Elkeles, but, like a souffle, they fell flat rather quickly.::: The Plot :::The plot is fairly predictable; Maggie Armstrong was hurt in an accident a year ago. The drunk driver who hit her? Her best friend's twin brother, Caleb Becker. Both are returning to school for their senior year, Maggie after being off for a year recovering from the accident, and Caleb after spending a year in a juvenile detention center.The book is told through their alternating points of view as they navigate their return to high school, where nothing is the same as they left it, and it's a quick read; I had the whole thing done in under three hours.::: If It Seems Familiar... :::There are parts of Leaving Paradise that seem a little bit too familiar, and Elkeles does nothing to make them her own. The trope of a dad who takes off into the sunset leaving teen daughter with an overworked and rarely home mom? Got it. Injured girl a former athlete suddenly without an identity due to the loss of her sport? Oh wait. That was Sloppy Firsts. Maggie predictably, has no friends left and is now an outcast, while Caleb appears to go back into his old life as Mr. Popular, inexplicably.If you didn't see Caleb and Maggie ending up a couple, then you haven't ever read a young adult book, and I wash my hands of you. It takes Maggie's waitress-mother's boss' mother (are you following) and a convoluted set-up to get them talking, and she falls for him so quickly you wonder whether the girl even has a brain in her head, because prior crush or no, falling for the guy who ran you down with his car, possibly on purpose, and left you there isn't exactly the guy you'd think you'd want to go to prom with.However, where Elkeles does shine is once she gets to the romance portion of the festivities. She makes kissing and handholding romantic and cheap sex vulgar in a way that Stephenie Meyer didn't quite manage to do with her sparkly vampire tale of abstinence. Hokey set-up and cop-out explanation of the accident or not, you find yourself rooting for this couple, even when you don't want to.If you've read Sloppy Firsts and know that Leaving Paradise is part of a series, you can probably guess how this one ends, which is aggravating in itself. But the romance that comes before it should melt even the Grinchiest heart.