Publish Date: April 11, 2011
Genre: Fiction – Young Adult, Contemporary
Synopsis: Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.
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.
Flat-Out Love comes complete with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Jessica Park’s Flat-Out Love was the book that I needed to read at the right time. In the sea of young adult books filled with some romantic angst, dystopian anguish, or even coming-of-age sorrow, Flat-Out Love was my happy ending. There is a pre-conceived notion that self published books, or books not published by big publishing houses lack something. But Park surpasses any expectations and pretty much knocks this one out of the park. I have a lot of love for this book, and please stay while I express them.
Julie was someone who was easy to relate with. Having moved from Ohio to Boston, Julie faces a demoralizing start to her college experience. Fortunately, her mom’s high school friend saves the day, and pretty much her whole first semester. But her mom’s old college friend welcomed Julie into her home, and in turn, into their lives.
Julie was easy to relate to. She was dedicated, smart, and self-sufficient. I loved who she was written to be, and loved the way that I perceived her. There is an attachment towards the Watkins family that I expected, but not at the level that was written. I loved Julie, as if she were my family member, or even as if she was a younger version of myself. And when I feel a deep emotional pull like that? I definitely have to love the author as well.
The other large character in Flat-Out Love is the Watkins family. While there are five members of the Watkins family, Erin, Roger, Finn, Matt, and Celeste, I felt they were acted as a single unit. It was nice to see a different family dynamic than I would normally read in other books. The Watkins seemed perfect on paper, but the reality showed something a little different.
I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll talk about the different factors of Flat-Out Love, that make it a very enjoyable read. The romance was subtle and sweet, perfect and fitting for the genre. Despite any family nuances that came up, there was something sweet about the different levels of relationships and love. Park caught me off guard with the level of emotional intensity that she brought. I found myself crying when I wouldn’t expect to, and other times laughing when I was bracing myself for emotional upset. Park kept the quirk high and the story deep and filled with substance.
I guarantee that you will fall in love with many characters in Flat-Out Love. You will have your favorites, but I don’t think you’ll dislike any of them. There is a bit of angst, but don’t worry. You’ll have a heart-aching tug that will represent overwhelming love for the characters. You’ll cry, you’ll laugh. And when you finish the book? You’ll wish there was another chapter to read.
Definitely, pick up Flat-Out Love. Perfect reading for any day of the week!