Published by HarperCollins Children's Books on October 14th, 2014
Genres: contemporary, young adult
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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.
Sometimes the best kind of books are the ones where your feelings are all a mess. You should hate the characters but you don’t, you should hate the book because of its shallowness but you don’t. You’re conflicted, you don’t know how to feel, and as a result, you learn something new about yourself and the way you would react to situations.
That is Even in Paradise in a nutshell. I’m not even sure if this was the author’s intentions. But. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Gossip Girl, you are familiar with Blair Waldorf. She is shallow, spoiled, and incredibly controlling. As a viewer, we should hate her for who she is, but I can’t think of anyone that didn’t root for her happiness, regardless of whom she ended up with.
And that’s pretty much how I felt about the characters in this book. The protagonist, Charlotte, is two faced and ditches her friends for the rich girl, Julia. Julia is spoiled and into herself and pretty much lacks empathy for others. She speaks French to everyone (I hated this) just because she can. The love interest, Sebastian, is clumsy and kind of dumb and not the type of guy I ship with any girl. He was just kind of dull. The rest of the Buchanan family is rich, secretive, and acts like they are some exclusive club that no one can get in to. And yet I couldn’t put this book down.
That’s why, as I sit here writing this review, I am unsure what to rate it. I am still sorting my feelings out, and I am pretty sure I will never not feel ambiguous about this entire book.
One thing I know though, the writing is divine. Seriously, just magical. It flows, it’s poetic, gives you a ton if imagery and yet is sparse and choosy with its words. I wish I could write like this. Heck, I wish most authors could write like this. Chelsey Philpot makes you feel like hours are minutes, and that instead of sitting there hours with the book, you have only been reading for ten minutes. I have a short attention span so when a book can make me forget that time exists, I know there is something special about it.
So maybe the subject matter is a bit shallow. So maybe I wouldn’t touch any of these characters with a ten-foot pole in real life. Sometimes reading about a life you would never have is exactly what you need to reexamine your place in the world.
Ignore my rating for this book. Really, to me it is kind of unrateable.