Book Talk


Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Publisher: Harper Collins
Pages: 360
Keywords: family, boarding school, New England
Format Read: purchased hardcover

What’s it about?

Charlotte is just an average scholarship student at a ritzy, private boarding school in New England, when a good deed changes her life. After rescuing the infamous Julia Buchanan from puking her guts out in the bushes outside Charlotte’s dorm room, the two become inseparable. Charlie gets ushered into the world of upscale New England and is introduced to society’s finest. She is falling madly in love with not just Julia, but the entire Buchanan family, and is swept away by their mysterious, strange life, which seems perfect on the surface, but that is far from the truth.

My thoughts

This was one that I had seen many mixed reviews on, but I’m so glad I gave it a chance (and so glad the Strand had a hardcover for six bucks!). The storytelling was interesting—Charlie was looking back over her time with the Buchanan family and retelling how being a part of their family, even for a short time, molded her life. I always like when books are told this way, and Philpot’s voice was excellent in providing a reminiscent tone while letting the reader know that this story was all happening in the past, and it would not be this way forever.

Julia Buchanan was such an interesting character, but in the way that felt deliberately interesting, like Margo Roth Spiegelman or Jacinta. She felt a little cliched but still compelling to the storyline, and it makes perfect sense to me why characters are drawn to her. She’s one of those characters that seems infinitely cooler and more graceful and dignified than the ordinary person while still being mysterious and whimsical. The appeal was not lost on me, though the trope of her character still seemed overused.

I was also totally into Sebastian’s relationship with Charlie. He was equally compelling to Charlie for a lot of the same reasons Julia was—she didn’t really understand the Buchanan life or family, and being swept away by all of them was such a unique experience for her. Their relationship felt real and evolving and not totally perfect, which I appreciated. It seems like non-romanticized relationships are hard to come by in YA, so I always take note when they do. The funny thing is that the Buchanan family was so romanticized to be this wild, crazy, out-of-this-world rich family and the romantic relationships (as well as the friendships) remained flawed and real and down-to-earth.

Talk to me!

What other characters fall under the “mysterious, compelling, beautiful girl” trope that you’ve read about?
Do you like the romanticized relationships or prefer flawed, probably not-happy-ending ones?


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