Monday, October 20, 2014

Book Review: Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot

Pages: 368
Genre: YA Realistic Fiction
Pub. Date: October 14, 2014
Source: Publisher for review
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "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."
St. Anne's boarding school is filled with teenagers from wealthy and prominent American families, unless you are a scholarship student. And that is the case for Charlotte Ryder, an aspiring artist and sort of social wallflower.  Everything changes for Charlotte one night when she helps out intoxicated Julia Buchanan, a popular and wealthy girl at school.  Julia appreciates Charlotte's help and takes her under her wing, even renaming her Charlie.  Julia bringing her into her fast-pace world of money, parities, and mansions   The two become attached at the hip and Charlotte even spends time with the Buchanan family at their summer home.  Except there are many layers to the Buchanan family that Charlie must peel back slowly in order to figure out the truth as their family history has been paved in secrets and tragedy.  Plus, Charlie is starting to have feelings for Julia's brother, Sabastian, and finds herself intertwined into their family even more than before.  Chelsey Philpot's debut, Even in Paradise, is a sad sort of novel and one that reminded me of The Great Gatsby meets Gossip Girl.  Readers who like stories about privileged families and secrets will enjoy this deep novel.

Once Charlotte met Julia her world changed immensely in Even in Paradise. She started sneaking out of her dorm, going by the name Charlie and living a bit more dangerously. She would even visit the Buchanans at their summer house on Nantucket, which is very much different than the world she is accustomed to as a scholarship student.  She learns that the Buchanan family has some secrets, especially surrounding the untimely death of Julia's sister.  Julia and Charlie's relationship becomes a little too close to the point where I felt it was unhealthy. She was too immersed into the family, even dating Sebastian, Julia's brother.  I sort of knew where this was going.

Julia had that Jay Gatsby vibe in Even in Paradise. She was charismatic, rich, and sometimes unreliable. She threw caution to the wind on many occasions, drank too much and harbors many secrets. Ultimately, she wasn't over the death of her sister, Gus, and there was definitely a cloud of sadness that followed her.  I could definitely pick up on the Gatsby vibe regarding the character of Julia.  But the problem with Even in Paradise is I didn't care enough about the characters; I was merely along for the ride.  


I liked the whole aspect of a Kennedy-esque family taking in a working class girl and Charlie sort of becoming one of them, but I could see where this was headed in Even in Paradise.  Even though the twist was a tad predictable, I found the writing and the overall story to be somewhat compelling.  It didn't "wow" me and wasn't my favorite debut, but I could appreciate this quiet story focusing on families, power, love, and secrets.

 


8 comments:

  1. I'm not exactly a fan of this kind of story. Usually I hate the rich privileged character(s) and get frustrated with the scholarship student. In this case it almost seems like Charlie is being used as a substitute for the girl who died.

    Your review reminded me that I still haven't read The Great Gatsby and I should remedy that. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Even though Even in Paradise doesn't sound like the book for me I liked your review of it.

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    1. Yeah, that is sort of what happened with me. I think We Were Liars is a better bet if you are interested in this type of story. You must read Gatsby. It's fantastic! Thanks for visiting, Christina!

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  2. This is the first review that I've seen for this book and I'm still on the fence. The story seems intriguing, though not something I'd usually read. I'm more of a dystopian/fantasy kind of person. Still, it does sound like it might be worth a try. Thanks for sharing!

    Tracy @ Cornerfolds

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    1. I have read some middle of the road reviews as well….it was no doubt entertaining, but not my favorite debut of 2014. If you get your hands on a copy, let me know your thoughts. THanks for visiting, Tracy!

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  3. Hmmm. I'm not sure how I feel about this one Christina! I like the sound of parts of it, but I definitely need to care about the characters to fall in love with the story. Just being along for the ride is all well and good on occasion, but I love being sucked and compelled to stay up late to read, and that doesn't seem like it was the case here for you. Thanks for a lovely review!!!

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    1. Yeah, I didn't care for the characters nearly as much as I would have hoped for. I was definitely hoping for this book to really hit it out of the ballpark, but that wasn't the case; however, it was an entertaining diversion for the weekend. Thanks for visiting, Jenny!

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  4. Thanks for sharing! I'm on the fence about this one---not a huge fan of Gatsby-esque stories, though I really enjoyed We Were Liars (to my surprise). And if the characters don't pull me in, then I usually can't get through the book. I guess we'll find out with this one :)

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    1. I think We Were Liars does it better and has more twists, but I hope you'll give it a chance as it is pretty entertaining. Thanks for visiting!

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