Release Date: October 14, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Drama, YA
Source: Bought it
Goodreads | Purchase
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.
Having read The Great Gatsby and adoring the beautiful novel, I was admittedly skeptical for a modern take on the classic tale- especially it being in the young adult genre. I was afraid that this novel would pale in comparison, quite frankly. It certainly wouldn’t include the atmospheric and poignant descriptions of the roaring twenties and the inevitable impossibility and resulting failure from trying to achieve the American Dream. However, I think that Even in Paradise stands on its own from The Great Gatsby and is an brilliant modernization. I would say that Even in Paradise focuses more on relationships and memories- how both can have an profound impact on our identity, while the aforementioned plays more with the failure of unmet fantasies. When comparing the two I can see both differences and similarities, but both retain an nostalgic air and gorgeous lyrical writing.
The Buchanans pull was as natural and strong as the moon on the tides, and when I was with them I was happy in the warmth of their reflected light.
The main character is drawn into the seemingly bright and idyllic life of the rich, and the reader is taken on a journey alongside that character. In Even in Paradise that character is Charlotte Ryder, an observant inspiring artist. Her narration throughout the story was done in a all knowing sort of fashion, it was like she was looking back on these past events that inevitability led to where she is at the end of the story. It made me all the more curious to find out what caused Charlotte to look back on these memories. As more and more got revealed through these snapshots of her past life, I found myself completely and utterly immersed in the intoxicating world of the Buchanans- just like Charlotte. I believe that Charlotte was made to parallel Nick Caraway from The Great Gatsby. While I can see the comparison through their observant natures, I found Charlotte a lot more easy to connect with. I also believe that by the end of the book she goes through character development and we really do see her “find herself” so to speak. However when compared to the larger than life Buchanan family I couldn’t help but find Charlotte to be a bit flat.
They were perfect. They were flawed. They were scarred and beautiful. They were to familiar with death and clung to life by clinging to one another. The Great Buchanans were only human, after all.
Charlotte’s relationship with the Buchanans (and specifically her new found best friend Julia) was nothing sort of captivating. On the outside you see these worldly and tight knit family. However, even if you just scratch at this seemingly perfect veneer you discover that there may be something more to their ghostly smiles. There’s a tragic event in the story which is slowly revealed through the family and you can feel its effect throughout all of the Buchanans. It effects them all in different ways; from Julia’s rebellious ways and her ever present sense of ennui to Mrs. and Mr Buchanan’s extravagant parties and constant need for positive affirmation. The family was inexplicably flawed, and the reader can see this even more so as Charlotte’s relationship to the family becomes one more of unhealthy dependency. However, the family was also charming and generous. The juxtaposition between the both worked wonders and really weaved a tale wrought with complexity, tragedy, happiness and nostalgia. With this family I couldn’t help but be transfixed, anguished and enamored. Through Charlotte’s memories of the Buchanans the reader gets an incredible emotional example of the human psyche
I wish for the same thing I’ve hoped for since the beginning. I wish for a life so brave, so unpredictable, so full of unexpected joys and unforgettable love that no box could possibly contain all of my memories.
There was a romance in Even in Paradise that was amazing in its subtlety. I felt like there was a lot more of it that went down behind the scenes. This just added to the enigmatic nature of Charlotte’s relationship in the story. The love interest in question was also quite a puzzle himself. I found myself loving the relationship highlighted and couldn’t help but find the snippets of the relationship we saw to be utterly beautiful. Though like most of the story, when there was great happiness and light in life there was also complete tragedy and break down. I found that this factor played into the relationship, making it an perfect example of a bittersweet romance. It was the perfect combination of joy and pain, twisted just right to make the readers emotions seem akin to a roller coaster.
She couldn’t hold so much life, light, and joy without also containing their opposites.
I found reading this book to be truly an emotional psychological experience. I mean I went from smiling to crying during the ending to smiling again to feeling nostalgic. I’ve been continuously trying to capture it throughout this review, however still don’t think I’ve done Even in Paradise justice. It has this almost cerebral quality to it that just has to be experienced. I know what will be gained from it will differ from reader to reader though, so I do recommend to everybody that they give this one a shot. If it’s not clear from the copious amount of quotes used in this review, the least you’ll gain is reading some truly enviable writing.
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