Even in Paradise by Chelsey Philpot
“Even knowing, as I do now, that grace, power, and, yes, love can hide the darkest elements of the human heart, I would do it all again.”
This story is a beautiful narration of beauty, love, family and grief. It is developed in a very Gatsy-sort of way, where the narrator of the story is falling head over heels in love with the world of the rich. Charlie is the normal teenager enrolled in a boarding school while Julia Buchanan is the complete opposite. She was the girl everyone knew about and wanted to know about, the girl with money, and the beautiful and flawless family. Charlie and Julia become best friends, after an incident at their boarding school where Julia is drunk and Charlie comes to the rescue. Their friendship blooms and the reader starts understanding the copendency that forms between the two main characters. Julia can't let Charlie go and viceversa.
Invited to spend some time with Julia's family, Charlie gets involved in a unrealistic life where all is precious and exciting. She starts falling in love with Julia's brother, Sebastian. Charlie and the Buchanan family begin this intoxicating and riveting relationship. Following Julia's sister's death, Julia is clearly not well. Charlie is there to help her, but there comes a point where the pressure of perfection is too much for both Charlie and Julia. Charlie believes the false act that the Buchanans put on for the outsiders until she actually gets so deep into their life that the veil is taken away.
"They were all royalty. They were all Gods. They were all broken."
The story is beautiful and deeply rich in metaphors and writing style. The grief the family goes through is explained beautifully. The friendship that blooms between Julia and Charlie is sometimes scary but so real that the reader feels the pull of both friends towards each other. This family, so damaged by the incident that occured so many years ago, engulfs Charlie in a world she was not ready to be a part of. It can be concluded that the story is not filled with action or mistey. The big "secret" at the end is highly obvious, but it still is a beautiful and compelling light read. It has a bit of a cliche plot but the Latin and French statement add a little more excitement to the story.
"Its only in hindsight that we can point, as easily as finding a town on a map, to the moments that shaped us- the moments when choices between yeses and noes determined the people we became."