Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Flat Out Love Review

Book Review

Flat Out Love by: Jessica Park

★★★ 4 Stars

Blurb: 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 was a refreshing mix of smart-witty dialogue with a big mystery that keeps readers pondering all the clues like members of the Mystery gang. 

The characters were all great, especially 13 y/o Celeste, whom we can't fully figure out until the end. She really brings a joyous atmosphere with her antics and at the same time contradicts herself with her Victorian mannerisms and voice. Celeste in many ways saves Julie more than the other way around. Julie's professor calls her the 'fixer' and she really is. Never once does she lose faith in Celeste and the hopes she has for her. She goes out of her way to try to help her even when her own family is stuck and just sort of forgets about her.And Flat Finn, what a phenomenal character all on his own.

I truly loved the writing style in this book. At times I was scratching my head with all the 'smart language,' throughout. Normally not one for an inclusion of text messages or e-mails in a story, the connection and immediate romance that sparks between Finn and Julie was invigorating. This intellectual edge made my own personal college years seem inconsequential especially when Matt was speaking or referring to his own studies. Daunting to say the least but Jessica Park manages to make the characters really embrace their personalities and voice effortlessly. And the witty banter between Julie and Matt will definitely make you laugh out loud.

Matt was pondering, "effective decomposition strategies for certain non-convex mixed-integer non-linear optimization problems." Because surely this is something every normal 22 year-old ponders :)

I was impressed with Julie's self-esteem, never once does she feel inferior to being surrounded by such genius and in most cases she gives it back just as good. 

Honestly, when I first started the story I was a bit turned off. I mean who in this day and age sends a requested cashier check for an apartment they found on Craigslist that's half a country away. Being, "grossly naive about what living in Boston would entail," is a bit of an understatement considering how smart Julie is in her own right. 

Another disappointment was her father. I really hoped we would get some sort of conclusion with them but it never comes. The big mystery within the story, really was not too hard to figure out. 

Matt's behavior was the only brief daunting element that threw me off the trail.  At times I wanted to punch him but its much easier to lash out at those you love than admit you were wrong or are just plain scared. 

Alas, these two overcome so much within this book. Celeste is on her way to fully recovering and so is the rest of the Watkins' family. I wish we were given some sort of prologue to see all the characters in the future since the end was sort of sudden. But the joy of Finn's last party and Julie coming to her senses was a very pleasant ending with such a wonderful family. Will miss all the LOL moments Julie and Matt provoked.

Can't wait to read more from Miss Park. Especially if Celeste gets her own chance to fall hopelessly in love.

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