Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park is an emotional yet delightfully hysterical read!
Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes. And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul. To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.
First I have to give a huge shout out to Jessica Park! Not only are you an amazing author with an extremely creative writing style but you are an absolutely amazing woman! Thank you for all you've done for me. I truly appreciate the support you showed in the awesome letters from Julie, Finn, Matt, and Celeste.... and also your extremely generous gift! Thank you again Jessica, it's Author's like you that make reading as special as it is to me ♥ !
I don't even know how to begin to describe how I felt about this book.... Julie....I absolutely ♥ Julie! She is an amazing character! So caring, understanding, extremely sarcastic in a funny/witty way, and so willing to help out. She's a beautiful girl with a beautiful personality that you just can't help but fall in love with. She moved to Boston to attend college but things didn't get started off in her favor.... the apartment she thought she was renting didn't turn out to be what she paid for. Fortunately her Mom's old friend from College didn't live to far and was able to help Julie out by giving her a place to stay
Normal is not what Julie got.... instead she got a family that is suffering.... suffering from something huge, something tragic.... BUT no one tells Julie what that something is and Julie being the sweet and understanding person she is just rolls with it. She accepts them.... all of them including Flat-Finn!All she wanted was a normal college experience and the chance to enjoy school without worrying that her friends would think it was ridiculous that she actually liked learning.
Okay so Matt is this extremely intelligent guy who has pretty much taken over caring for his little sister. He shelters her because he loves her and just wants to keep her safe. But by doing that.... by taking over for his parents he lost a part of who he was and Julie starts to bring that out again. Matt cracks me up.... he totally embraced the inner geek in him.... I ♥ the shirts and he was hysterical in that serious super smart kind of way. But it was clear that he was holding back, like he couldn't let himself be...well himself entirely. It was obvious to me, especially after he decorated the tree that he had feelings for Julie and his feelings ran pretty deep.... I kept hoping he would tell her how he felt or come clean about what he was doing and found myself disappointed when he didn't.
Celeste.... I swear that girl was something else.... I absolutely adored Celeste. Yes she was extremely quirky and had some major issues that needed to be worked out but when she started finding herself with Julies help but still kept that adorable quirkiness about her I couldn't help but want to reach in, pull her out and keep her forever. It was hard to watch her grow becauset she not only struggled with the fact that Finn was not there but she struggled with not having any friends. My heart was constantly going out to Celeste and I couldn't help but feel large amounts of joy every time she grew into herself a little more.
So Julie finds Finn on facebook and starts exchanging emails and im's with him..... and it doesn't take long for her feelings towards him to grow.... grow into love. She depended on Finn to help give her advice not only about the monsters under his bed... but advice on his family and pep her up when she tried a new way to 'help' Celeste. Their exchanges were funny and sweet.... Finn helped Julie when she was in mid-panic attack while stuck in an elevator by taking her mind off of where she was and telling her about taking her skydiving.... I'm still holding Finn to that skydiving date....tandem ;) He was also encouraging her efforts in helping Celeste by telling her what a wonderful job she's been doing and how proud he is that her efforts were paying off.
Julie learns pretty quick that not everything is as it seems with the Watkins family and tries her best to change things.... make things better. And she does, she helps the family grow and start the process of dealing with the issue that should have been dealt with before. She brings light back into their lives and helps them all individually in one way or another. She does all this before finding out that something huge the family was hiding.... or I should say ignoring. Once she finds out she understands why they didn't tell her but she's still heart broken.... not only for them but for herself too. She thought she found something truly special and it all turned out to be a lie.... at least in her eyes. I was upset with Julie, not that I didn't get why she said what she did and then why she took so long to come around because I did.... but I was still upset with her.
There is so much I'd love to say about this book.... love to quote from this book... but I can't. I can't because it will give it all away and I've already given away more than I'd prefer. Jessica did an amazing job with this book.... it felt real... and not to mention the humor.... any book that can make me laugh out loud is a definite keeper ;)
Flat-Out Love is an emotional read with a family that needed the love and support they got from Julie to help them back to reality.... help them deal with the tragedy they all tried to ignore. It was amazing to watch how one 18 year old girl can step in and change things... make things better... make the entire family want things to be better and actually try to work to get it. I loved reading this book, I loved watching not only the characters themselves grow but the relationships grow. Julie formed a bond with each and every member of the Watkins family and even though there is a lot of heartbreak that bond she formed was unbreakable... it was beautiful!
I can't recommend this book enough. It's not your typical boy meets girl and they fall in love kind of story.... it's got that but it's WAY more. I connected with each of the characters and I was upset when it was over... I wanted more, I want to know how Celeste is doing, how things are going between Julie and Matt, and how the entire family as a whole is doing. Flat-Out-Love will remain on my reread list as a book that is a reminder of how special true love is, and most importantly how special family love is! Seriously.... check it out, you will not be disappointed!!