Book Reviews

Flat-Out Love by: Jessica Park


He was tall, at least six feet, with dirty blond hair that hung over his eyes. His T-shirt read Nietzsche Is My Homeboy.

So, that was Matt.  Who Julie Seagle likes. A lot.  But there is also Finn.  Who she flat out loves.

Complicated? Awkward?  Completely.

But really, how was this freshly-minted Boston transplant and newbie college freshman supposed to know that she would end up living with the family of an old friend of her mother’s? This was all supposed to be temporary.  Julie wasn’t supposed to be important to the Watkins family, or to fall in love with one of the brothers.  Especially the one she’s never quite met. But what does that really matter?  Finn gets her, like no one ever has before. They have connection.

But here’s the thing about love, in all its twisty, bumpy permutations—it always throws you a few curves.  And no one ever escapes unscathed. (Goodreads synopsis)

“It’s not what you know-or when you see- that matters. It’s about the journey” ~opening quote

This story is Flat-Out Fantastic. Yes, had to do it – a perfect set-up.  It’s the kind of story you remember not only for the storyline/plot but for the intelligent writing, originality, clever wit and heartfelt personal connection between characters.  When you read a lot of books in this YA genre (as I do) too many of them blur together; same storyline, same characters with different weird names, rushed romance and cheap dramatic ploys to suck you in. Looking for something different that still makes your heart swoon,  still keeps you up late at night feverishly turning pages, is intelligent and witty? Flat-Out Love fits the bill.

“Gut-wrenching, overpowering, crushing, fulfilling, complex, bring-you-to-your-knees love.”

The characters are so well developed in this novel that you don’t want the story to end just so you can be in their presence and hear what they have to say next. Celeste is a quirky, eccentric thirteen year old who carries around a life-size cut-out of her oldest brother Finn, who is away traveling. She also doesn’t use contractions when she speaks and needs a little push to help grow into her teenage years. Julie is the perfect person to help her. She is staying at the Watkins’ home in Finn’s old room since her college housing fell through. Being an “outsider” she has fresh insight on how to help this family with Celeste’s ways, “a life force they needed so desperately”. But her rapport with Matt is off the charts. Matt, the geeky and “easy on the eyes” MIT double major (Math & Physics) is the rock of the Watkins household.  Beneath all that intelligence and responsibility is a tender heart, “his execution might have been disastrous, but don’t forget about his heart”

The Facebook updates from Matt, Julie and Finn are brilliant and hilarious!! A favorite part of the book hands down.

“Matthew Watkins: I need an afternoon pick-me-up. I accept cash and/or prizes that can be exchanged for cash. Also, hobbits.”

 “Finn is God:  If you get off your high horse, you’ll notice that it, too, poops.”

Did I mention that the writing was intelligent? Well, it needs to be said again otherwise, I will be forced to quote every line from the book that made me  internally say “YES” and wish I wrote it. Or just read it yourself, then go on Goodreads and spend ridiculous amounts of minutes “liking” all your favorite quotes.

“I bet it’s easy for you,” Celeste said, as she examined her fingers and toes. “What? Flirting?” “Yes.” “Depends. There’s flirting,” Julie said, jokingly pushing her chest out, “and then there’s flirting.” She tapped the side of her temple. “It’s the second one that’s hard because you’re putting more of yourself out there.”  

“He just wasn’t the guy, you know? I want the guy. The everything guy. Not the dumb Prince Charming, nauseatingly-perfect everything guy. That’s pathetic. I want the flaws-and-all everything guy.”

Flat-Out Love also touches on the topic of family. Family filled with dysfunction, heartache and love. It’s real and the author doesn’t just tell you what each character goes through but makes you feel it. Much of the book is focused on the Watkins family, but the few scenes with Julie and her father are gut wrenching and sad. You root for these characters to find their happiness and peace.

As a reader, you know you have something special in your hands when you want to tell all your friends to read it, want to quote all the poignant lines, relive the laugh out loud moments and are upset that the story has ended. Not to worry, though. Flat-Out Love won’t leave you hanging for months while you wait for the sequel and the then the third, fourth, etc. The ending is perfect, like a full circle moment for the characters and the reader. There is a second book called Flat-Out Matt (Matt’s POV) that I hear the author wrote due to popular demand from readers. That’s how amazing Flat-Out Love is!

Amazon      Barnes & Noble

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