Even In Paradise by Chelsey Philpot (Review)

20601687Summary: 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.

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Realistic Fiction

Cover: What drew me to this novel was the cover and title since it has a mysterious aspect to it that made me curious to read the story.

My thoughts: The moment I began reading this book, I became entranced in the world the author built. The story follows a girl named Charlotte who attends an all-girls boarding school where she meets the illustrious Julia Buchanan. Julia Buchanan lives this brilliant life that Charlotte can’t help but want to immerse herself in from the moment she gets a glimpse of it. Soon enough Charlotte, or “Charlie”, is inseparable from Julia who invites her into her world filled with loving family members, midnight parties, and endless amounts of champagne. Charlie even begins to fall for Julia’s brother, but eventually learns that the Buchanan’s lives aren’t as picture-perfect as she thought they were.  The book shows true friendships, romance, and tragedy in a way that leaves the reader thinking about this book long after it is finished. 

I was drawn to this story simply because it reminded me of The Great Gatsby with the extravagant parties and fascinating, yet mysterious, best friend. The fact that Charlie dropped everything in her life simply to get a glimpse into the Buchanan’s lives reminded me of the plot of The Great Gatsby. Charlie becomes immediately interested in Julia and all she has to offer. She gets to live within this perfect world for a while until she realizes that maybe Julia and her family aren’t as outstanding as she thought they were. Julia has secrets that haunts her and Charlie realizes that fact over the course of the book that progresses into a story that is much deeper than a simple friendship.  

Julia Buchanan is the type of character you can’t help but adore her quirks and faults. She reminded me of sunshine thanks to her ability to make others smile so effortlessly even if she was breaking on the inside. She is a typical popular girl, but is so much more than that title she got thanks to her bubbly personality. She cares for others and relies on Charlie in a way that was heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. Throughout the entire book Julia seems unbreakable, but really she is broken and that was what made her so likable, to me. She was a character that I really admired for being so strong through all the situations she was put in at such a young age.

Charlie, also, was the nicest friend you could ask for. Even if she abandoned her other friends a bit to be with Julia, she was so relatable in a way I couldn’t properly describe. The decisions she made in this novel all had a good reason behind them. She was a character lost in this lavish world and was accepted into the Buchanan’s family with open arms. She fell for Julia’s brother, who was such a sweetheart, that helped Charlie come to terms with the situations she was put in. All she wants is to fit in and be welcomed, and the Buchanan’s offered that for her to help her grow into an independent character.

This entire novel is moving, entertaining, and so, so lovely to read. I read it in such a short amount of time and yet managed to connect to all the characters that all had faults and hopes and dreams. I thoroughly enjoyed this story thanks to its similarities to The Great Gatsby and its message that sometimes you want to enter this complex world full of excitement, and eventually that experience has to end, but you will come out a better person when it is all over.

Rating: ★★★★★

– Olivia