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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.
Once again I was taken by a book on display at the library thanks to the lovely cover and intriguing plotline. I enjoy mysteries that slowly unravel themselves to the reader and this seemed like it would fit the bill.
When Charlotte comes to Julia’s aid after the latter’s night of excessive partying, little does she know how much her life would change as a result. Julia has this mystique about her and Charlotte can’t help but be pulled into her orbit. Befriending her means that her current steady social circle goes by the wayside. Her friends don’t care much for this but Charlotte, or Charlie as Julia calls her, sees nothing wrong with it. Soon these two are inseparable and then Charlie meets Sebastian, Julia’s older brother. Their friendship becomes something more and they both have a hard time knowing how exactly to proceed as she is Julia’s friend first and foremost.
The prologue at the beginning hints at a major secret and resulting fallout. Okay, I know I said I like for mysteries to unravel slowly, however, I kept hanging on for the big reveal even when I’d already kind of, sort of, figured it out. I just thought there’d be more to it to explain the rather curious family behaviour. For example, The Buchanan family takes to Charlie instantly and is quite overwhelming in expectations of her as Julia’s friend, as if appointing her Julia’s guardian.
When the big secret comes out, Charlie feels as if she has been lied to. I had a hard time with that. Charlie is a new friend, only knowing them for a small while. I felt it was unfair of her to feel that way. I’m not saying the secret isn’t awful – it is – and it does go some way in explaining Julia a little. It's just that I was left with the feeling that this story just stopped short somewhere. Personally, I would have liked more exploration into the family dynamics. This peculiar family is a tight, loving unit and I would have liked a peek into their perspective of the events both before and after Charlie came into their lives. This is of course my preference. May be the intention was to have the reader feel just as Charlie, that she was left adrift and disconnected from these people once things came to light.
All in all, Even In Paradise has a decent premise and kept me engaged. BiblioJunkie Nat actually read some of it and found the tone of it similar to that of We Were Liars. I read this book in one go and pondered on it over a two-day period. I think your feelings about the ending depend on how strongly you feel about gray areas. Believe me, there are plenty of those in this story. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.