Thursday, August 7, 2014

Flat Out Love by Jessica Park

Flat Out Love

by Jessica Park

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Published by: Skyscape - September 11, 2012
Genres: Fiction, Family, Love
Rating: 5 Stars

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 a 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.

Hands-down one of the best books I've ever read. The above synopsis doesn't do the book justice - in fact, I don't know how any blurb could do it justice. It's just that good. It's Flat Out good. ;)

Before I get into the synopsis, I want to say the following:
1. The characters aren't just 3-D; they are alive. The depth with which the author knows these characters, their background, likes, needs is astounding. It's rare that an author truly gives the reader 100% of the characters. Nothing is glossed over.

2. The Watkins household is alive. It is not just a place in the book; it is a major character. It sets the stage for a lot of the plot.

3. This book is emotional, funny, amusing, sarcastic, witty (sooo witty) and full of pain . . . and love. And redemption.

4. I truly did NOT see the plot twist coming and when I did, I had to lay down and collect myself for a minute. My heart was beating out of my chest.

5. I couldn't put this book down once I started. Could not.

Julie is a freshman in college who finds out her newly rented (over the Internet) digs is actually the address to a taco place. Homeless, her mother calls an old friend from college, and Julie goes to stay temporarily with the Watkins family. The Watkins family is like no other family she's ever met. Mr. and Mrs. Watkins are lawyers who bike too and from work. Their gorgeous older son Finn is off traveling the world, helping the poor, leading expeditions, saving the world. Matt, a college student double majoring in math and physics, is the cool nerdy type. He never meets up to the expectations of his parents who are always wanting him to be more like Finn. And then there's Celeste. Something is severely wrong with Celeste which Julie soon finds out. There is an extra place set at dinner and sitting/standing there is "Flat Finn" a life size cardboard cutout of her brother Finn. Um, weird. Even weirder? No one says a word about it; they act like this is completely normal behavior for a middle school girl. Matt soon explains that "Flat Finn" is Celeste's way of coping for missing the real Finn who is always half-way around the world. Still, as Julie reasons, it doesn't take a psychologist to realize that Celeste needs some serious help. With no one in the family talking about it or willing to acknowledge it, Julie takes matters into her own hands, helping Celeste ease away from "Flat Finn" one body part at a time.

I won't go into any further details as I don't want to give away the plot. There is a follow-up book call Flat Out Celeste. I'd like to read it, but Flat Out Love was just so perfect that I don't want a 2nd disappointing installment (if it is disappointing) to ruin anything I gained from the first. If you've read it, please let me know what you thought.

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