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Road to Paradise by Paullina Simons Book Review

Updated on April 15, 2013

Warning: Spoiler Alerts

Paullina Simons is the bestselling author of the Bronze Horseman Trilogy. Road to Paradise was published in 2007. This book deals with young women finding their own personal path in life after finishing high school.

It is not sugar sugar coated. The story deals with sexuality, self destruction, friendship and broken dreams.

This is the story of a post high school graduation road trip.

One girl is on a mission to find her lost mother.

But things take an unexpected turn.

All Photographs on this lens were taken by author.

Have you read this book?

Have you read Road to Paradise?

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A road trip across America... - Doesn't go exactly as planned.

This page turner follows three eighteen year old girls driving across America in search of meaning. In the summer between the end of high school and college Shelby decides to take a car trip and find the mother who abandoned her. Gina, Shelby's schoolmate invites her self along for the ride.

From the start things begin to go wrong, Gina brings her little sister along and drags Shelby to various cousins. But the real trouble begins when Shelby picks up and intriguing pink haired hitchhiker, Candy. Candy changes every thing. She creates tension between the threesome. She's strange and wonderful but drags the girls deeper and deeper into trouble.

Although the journey does not go as planned the girls find more then they could have bargained for.

Road to Paradise

Memorable Quote

"A person can't save his life until he completely loses it."

Road to Paradise

Shelby Sloane--The main character.

Shelby is the main character in the story.

Her aunt Emma has taken care of her, her entire life. Things haven't been easy for Shelby. But her way of dealing with things is running. It is through running that she earns a scholarship to Harvard.

The road trip reconnects Shelby with her old friend, Gina and brings a new friend, Candy. During the journey she is constantly feeling torn between them.

Reviewer Observation

Throughout the entire trip Shelby did everything everyone told her to do. She was dragged along by Gina in the beginning from aunt to aunt and then by Candy. The only real decision she made herself was to pick up Candy on the side of the road.

Gina--Shelby's "once" good friend

Then there's Gina.

** In the epilogue Gina and Shelby meet twenty seven years after the trip. Gina hasn't left Reno, the place Shelby left her. She's over weight, smells of cigarettes, gambles and has married and remarried again. This is the future that Candy had anticipated for her. When Gina gets to Reno she is unable to leave the casino. Over the trip she becomes more and more addicted to it. There's something very annoying about Gina, as if the author herself looks down at her. Her habit of plucking out her eye lashes and eye brows, her whining, her constant theological debates. The very fact that she lied she could drive to Shelby. All the characters in the story are broken, twisted and lost but Ginas personality seems (to me) uninviting.

Candy--Pink haired and free spirited.

Candy's life is wild and tragic, as is her end. She's sexy and shameless. Religion plays a large role in her life. She has a twisted past and is being chased by a man who wants her dead. Another big part of her is her 5 year old daughter, Tara. She has been saving money her whole life to come get her and take her to Australia.

There's tension between the three girls-a lot of it. Candy and Gina debate a lot over theology and everything else. Shelby is torn between them. Gina talks a lot about throwing candy out of the car. But they have their moments, nights in casinos, laughs. Gina is incapable of understanding Shelby's devotion and puppy-dog loyalty to Candy. But the reader does.

Shelby is in love with Candy as stated in the last line of the book. She's fascinated by her; she's in awe of her bravery. She's so different from anything she's ever known. It's as though from the moment she sees her, a strange magnetic power draws her to her in full force. Candy knows this. She's used to using people as means to an end. Only at the end do they fulfill their love physically, Candy says she wants them to start a life together with her daughter. And Shelby would have done so.

Main themes - Deals with dark themes

Sex is a widely discussed topic in the book. As eighteen year old girls, the heroines are at the peak of their Youth. Candy has been selling her body since age thirteen and continues to do so. She knows how to seduce, and something about her screams availability. Candy's never been in love, but seems to have a deep connection with Shelby. Shelby is innocent and shy in comparison to Candy. But the road trip loosens her up. Gina claims to love her boyfriend, but in truth her actions speak for them self. She hooks up with other men.

Another topic in the book was self destruction as seen by Gina and Floyd. Both gave into addiction of the body-drugs, gambling. Floyd was candys best friend and he betrayed her. He wasted her money on drugs. He sold his girlfriends body for money.

Book Quote

“You know what I was thinking, she whispered to me on our last night in Reno, All this time when I was traveling with you? Maybe there’s no place in the world for me? I was scared that that was what you think I thought to myself, but said: Don’t say that. Look around you. The world is so big, so beautiful. I tried to convince her. There’s place for all of us. We just need to find it.”

Road to Paradise

My Opinion


Overall the book haunted me. It reminded me that all teenagers are a little lost and that life takes you on unexpected paths. It scared me how easily Shelby gave up her running and Harvard education. Those seem the top of the top. But she didn't need to think twice about it, her journey, her experiences, candy all these showed her what she wanted. It scared me easily simple decisions can change life courses.

**Shelby lost everything in the end, her beloved yellow mustang, Candy, Gina etc. It was only then that she was able to go on without fear as recommended by Candy's father "yes. Don't be afraid Shelby." She found her the only place she could be happy in, although it was not what she had originally intended to find (her mother). She built a new life, found love, had children and brought Emma to her new home. It was only once she lost everything that she could rebuild and be happy. The second quote is beautiful and true as well. We need to look around and not be so closed minded all the time we all have a place in the world, its so beautiful, mysterious and wonderful!

What I liked about this book was how I was unable to take it all in at the end. It didn't have a clear message or idea. Instead it raised questions, explored themes and left you thinking about the characters.

More best selling books by Paullina Simons

Is The Road to Paradise movie in the making? - I found this poster online.

What do you think?

Would Road to Paradise make a good movie?

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Comments go here!

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    • ashleynicole21 profile image


      6 years ago

      I will read it some day! Maybe,It is a good book!

    • texan203 lm profile image

      texan203 lm 

      6 years ago

      I am unfamiliar with this book and author. Thanks for the interesting lens.

    • Molly Stevens profile image

      Molly Stevens 

      6 years ago

      I loved The Bronze Horseman and didn't realize that Paulina Simons had written another book. I'm definitely reading this. Thanks for your great lens and bringing this book to my attention.


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