Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Book Review: Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

Even In Paradise
Chelsey Philpot
Published: October 14, 2014
Publisher: HarperCollins
Age Demographic: YA Contemporary 
Pages: 368

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.

To Pre-order a copy of Even In Paradise by 
Chelsey Philbot please visit: Amazon & B&N

(Note: I received an ARC of this book for review through ATW ARC Tours, in exchange for an honest review.)

Beautifully wistful, full of soaring hope, and bittersweet love this book will grip your heart in the palm of its hand and never let it go. It's emotionally compelling in every way and you will find yourself wrapped up in the greatest love story of all, even if it's only for a fleeting moment. Wonderfully human and full of flaws, Even In Paradise, will show you what it's like when you find out that you're only human after all and that sometimes life can be unnaturally cruel. I loved falling in love with this story from the moment that I picked this galley up and began reading it. It's one of those books where you just feel like you're watching what's happening roll by in vibrant technicolor before your eyes, streaked with pain, guilt, glamour, and the feeling of just wanting to belong to something you normally wouldn't be a part of, even if only for a moment. 

Told in a brilliantly stunning past tense point-of-view through Charlotte's (Charlie's) eyes and reminiscent of the Gatsby concept, Even In Paradise, possesses this charm and magical appeal to it that makes the you want to fall in love with the Buchanan's too the way that Charlie has. She's a girl on the outskirts of their world, skating along the fringes and is accepted into the fold once she befriends Julia, who is beautifully broken and tormented in so many ways. Together these two form a close bond that seems as if it cannot be severed, but through lies, hidden half-truths, and secrets step by step they seem to lose their footing. Through growing up, getting lost in who Charlie feels she's supposed to be as the Buchanan's see her, and dealing with the anxiety over having to always take be the one to look out for and take care of Julia, this book is hauntingly tragic just as much as it is timeless and magical. All of this is compounded with Charlie's first love being, none other than Julia's brother, Sebastian Buchanan. These two are dizzy and drunk on each other, sweet and charming, and so much fun to read about. It's a wistful sort of windswept romance, that will pull at your heartstrings and make you want these two to last as long as the time will allow.

The story that Chelsey Philpot weaves throughout the narration of Even In Paradise is both intoxicating as it is thrilling. There is so much more to this emotionally intense story, than just a fleeting moment in one's life where they were caught up in such a dizzying frenzy of wanting to belong and then realizing they had come and then overstayed their welcome. It's almost hard to sum up these feelings without borrowing a line from the book itself, "I don't belong here, Sebastian. I'm just a visitor who stayed too long." It's a story of so much more than just survivor's guilt, wanting to escape the pain that you feel you're trapped in, experiencing love for the first time, traversing the waters of a friendship that you feel will always be there that's been built on half-truths and lies, and being enamored with the things that you can't have - the beautiful people - and being accepted into their circle. It's about hope, love, loyalty, friendship, discovering who you are and where you belong in life. It's a book about a precious moment in your life that you will never forget and always look back on fondly, even if it only lasted for a mere moment of your life. It isn't a story that's riddled with regrets, it's a story of what is just is and it's a beautiful one.

Even In Paradise is the absolute perfect summer read to get swept up in this summer when you're sitting poolside or spending a day at the beach. It's a read that will leave you dizzy with hope and longing.

Chelsey Philpot is a bibliophile and a library devotee.

She writes about books, culture, travel, and the arts for the Boston Globe and teaches writing at Boston University. Before moving to New England, she was a book reviews editor at School Library Journal in New York City.

HarperCollins will publish her first young adult novel, Even in Paradise, in fall 2014.

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