Friday, September 30, 2011

REVIEW: "Flat-Out Love" by Jessica Park

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. 

PUBLICATION DATE: April 11, 2011
READ: September 2011
SOURCE: Bought-Ebook
PUBLISHER: Createaspace
GENRE: Young Adult-Contemporary


1. The Narrator
Julie Seagle is the heroine and narrator of this book.  I won't go into Julie's situation much here because you can look up and read the book summary for that.  But, what I will say is that Julie is a great narrator.  She is observant (though slightly oblivious), funny, and determined.  She has a very self-deprecating sense of humor, but doesn't go over the top with it.  She just seems like a realistic character with flaws and strengths.  I also found her determination to help the Watkins family to be endearing. 

2. The Geek
Matt Watkins is a member of the Watkins family that allows Julie to move in with them.  He is a certified geek who specializes in geek-speak t-shirts and making sarcastic comments.  But, like many of the characters in this book, there is more to Matt than meets the eye.  I love geeky heroes and Matt is one of the best.  He is far from being a caricature and is a very realistic portrayal.  In order to avoid spoilers, I won't go much further into Matt and his secrets.  But, I will say he is a refreshing character in young adult literature and what he goes through made me tear up on many occasions.

3. The Quirky Little Sister
Celeste Watkins is Matt's younger sister.  She is a quirky character who takes over much of the book.  Her personality is unique, detailed, and completely attention grabbing.  Julie spends much of the book trying to figure out how Celeste ticks and the audience is in on this quest. 

4. The Flat Guy
Flat Finn is an interesting character.  He is, specifically, a lifesize cardboard cutout of Matt and Celeste's oldest brother Finn who is apparently out traveling the world.  Celeste brings Flat Finn everywhere, but school.  She and the rest of her family talk to Flat Finn and even act like he is responding.  Julie is, obviously, confused by this, but does go along with it.  Alot of the book deals with the mystery of why Celeste's obsession with Flat Finn and why her real brother is away.

5. The Watkins Family
Another fun quirk about Flat-Out Love is how Julie relates to all the members of the Watkins family.  She befriends both Matt and Celeste.  She engages in e-flirting with Finn.  She also has small friendships with Erin and Roger.  The entire Watkins family has its eccentricities and it is cool how readers see Julie react to each one.

6. Realistic Approach to College Life
As a soon-to-be former college student, I really liked reading about that tumultous first year.  Julie experiences all the basic changes that can occur during that first years from housing difficulties, dating, parties, grueling schoolwork, and changing viewpoints.  It is fun to see all those milestones with Julie's twisted sense of humor and outlook on life.

7. Character Growth
One thing that can make or break a book for me is if characters experience a type of growth.  It doesn't necessarily have to involve the main character, but that is preferable.  Flat-Out Love is amazing in this regard.  Jessica Park has all of her characters grow in one way or another.  They all have a journey to take in this story and the readers are just along for the ride.

8. Facebook Status Updates
The funniest aspect of this book is the use of Facebook to further the plot and character development.  Julie, Matt, Finn, and a few secondary characters are prolific at updating their Facebook statuses.  These observations are often hilarious and give the readers a unique look into the characters' lives.

9. The Ending (No Spoilers Here!)
I will not spoil the book.  But, it must be said that the ending to Flat-Out Love is everything I could want.  All the questions are answered and in efficient fashion.  No info dump here!  The mystery of Flat Finn is resolved with some surprising aspects that I never saw coming and I was left feeling satisfied with the direction the characters were headed.

10. Support Self-Published Authors
This point is a general book one.  I realized, after hearing all about this fabulous book at other blogs, that Jessica Park self-published this!  I am even more impressed with the way she told the story, balanced the characters, and provided pertinent details.  So, this is just a call to readers to check out some of these self-published writers.  You may have to delve through some crap, but this book is a reminder of the treasure that can be found if you look hard enough.




“Why do you have to correct everything I say?” Julie glanced at his FTW! shirt. “Out of the two of us, I don’t think I’m the one that deviates from the norm.” The train slammed to a stop. “You’re the one who seems to get off arguing.”
“You sound exactly like Finn. We’re exchanging ideas. Debating.” Matt looked down at his shorts. “And so far I haven’t gotten off.”


Jessica Park's Blog
Flat-Out Love Book Depository Page
Flat-Out Love Goodreads Page
Fun Interview with Jessica Park

1 comment:

  1. I don't know how I missed this review until now, but it's completely awesome. Thank you so, so much! I laughed so hard at your "The Flat Guy" category. :)


Yeah comments!! Thanks for visiting my blog. I will try to reply to your comments as soon as possible.