Book: Paradise by Jill S. Alexander
Genre: Young Adult / Contemporary Realistic Fiction
Buy A Copy: Amazon / Book Depository
Available Formats: Hardcover / Ebook
Publication Date: July 5th, 2011First Sentence: "All it took to find Paradise was a five dollar bill and an ad in the Thrifty Nickel."
How Did I Get This Book: From Publisher, For Review
Description: Paisley Tillery is the drummer for a country rock band. If they can make it to the stage at the Texapalooza music fest, then Paisley will be closer to her dream of a career in music and a ticket out of her small Texas town. Drumming and music are what Paisley has always wanted. Until the band gets a new lead singer, the boy from Paradise, Texas. With Paradise in her life, what Paisley wants, and what she needs, complicate her dreams coming true.
Well, let me just start off by saying, I really, really, wanted to love Paradise. The description made it sound like something that would be right up my alley – a music obsessed, strong willed teenage girl pursuing her dreams to make it big. Plus, it had a cowboy. Sounds great, right? If only.
First of all, Paisley didn’t exactly jump off the page for me. I loved the setting of the book (rural Texas) and I enjoyed the idea of the characters, but I struggled to connect with them – especially Paisley. She was so overtaken with the idea of playing at Texapalooza, that her character was utterly consumed by it. She came across as incredibly one dimensional and her relationships with other people suffered. I did however enjoy her narrative. Alexander does an excellent job giving Paisley a distinctive and undeniably entertaining voice.
I honestly, did not see much chemistry between Paisley and Gabe (aka Paradise). The squeezebox playing cowboy instantly had a thing for our leading lady and she eventually admitted her feelings for him. That being said, I did not really feel like they were good together. First of all, Gabe could be rather pushy. While I was trying to sort out my feelings on Paradise, I looked at some other reviews. Nobody else seemed to be bothered by his character, but he certainly riled up my feathers a few times. There is a scene in which Paisley and Paradise are getting cozy in the back of his pickup and he keeps pestering her about going further.
Paisley, for her part plays the “not now” and he gets irritable with her. Now, maybe this doesn’t seem like a big deal to others out there, but you have to look at the context. I am not one of those people who flinches at sex in young adult books, but this particular scene got to me. At this point, Paisley and Paradise weren’t even together. Does he really expect her to give in? Is it really okay that he pressures her like this? Is that just how things work in rural Texas? Look, I don’t know, the extent of my knowledge can be summed up by what I’ve seen on Friday Night Lights. But, I cannot imagine this sort of behavior would fly anywhere. Needless to say, his character certainly fell a few notches for me.
Now, let’s talk about the sucker punch of an ending. Look, I’m not the kind of person who needs a book to end with a “happily ever after”. But, at the same time, I cannot stand it when books have unnecessarily depressing endings either. Unfortunately, I feel like the ending of Paradise was incredibly unnecessary. I am not saying things had to be all sunshine and rainbows, but it certainly didn’t need to be hurricanes and hailstorms either.
In theory, Paradise sounded like a great idea. I love myself some cowboys, I am a huge music buff and I enjoy strong female leads. Unfortunately, the book itself just did not work for me. I could not connect to the characters, the leading man didn’t do it for me and the ending made me want to completely jump ship. However, I seem to be in the minority here. So my advice to you (if Paradise sounds like something you would like) is to check out some other reviews on the book -tons of people really seemed to enjoy it. I however, am just not one of them.
"He ambled across the concrete floor with a bronc-busting swagger like he'd just gone eight seconds on Boom-Shocka-Locka."
"I reached into my back pocket. Pulled out my drumsticks. I tossed one into my left hand and twirled the other by my side. Just to let him know I was more than eye candy and the role of band badass was taken."
"Breathe, Paisley," he whispered. "Life's short."
"Sometimes when I played, I got the urge to tear it up, just pound away like I was running across the pasture racing for home. But at the moment, like a kid swinging on a summer afternoon, I closed my eyes and rode the rhythm."
"On a rise about two hundred yards inside a barbed-wire fence, the Tucker barn - with it's roof painted like the Texas flag and outlined in Christmas tree lights - twinkled like Barbie's Redneck Playhouse."