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Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

I bought the ebook version of Flat-Out Love when I saw what a good deal it was right now. I'd seen it read, reviewed, and loved here and there for several months now, but for some reason nothing pushed me over the edge into trying it out myself. I know. Then when I found myself in between books and casting about for the next great thing, I remembered I had it on my nook and pulled it out to see how we got on. The answer is: famously! This is one of those books you kick yourself for not picking up sooner and then attempt to make reparations by singing its praises in the hopes that others will be quicker and savvier than you. I also just ordered the paperback, because I can tell that a digital copy is not going to be enough. This is one I'll want to have on my shelves for lending and rereading and the like. Plus, it's pretty, that cover. I mean, it kind of fills me with a maelstrom of emotions after the fact. But pretty it is. This is my first book by Jessica Park and I'm eager to find out what she's working on next and what we have to look forward to.

Julie is a bit down on her luck already and it's only her first day in Boston. She's come all the way out east to go to college, leaving her mother and the Midwest behind. But it turns out using Craigslist to secure an apartment wasn't the brightest idea. Fortunately, after one harried phone call with her mother and one minor meltdown in front of the burrito shop that was supposed to be her apartment, Julie is saved when the son of her mother's old college roommate shows up. Her mother's old roommate Kate and her family live in town and offer to let Julie stay with them until she finds an actual apartment where she will not be mugged or killed. Putting aside the fact that she really didn't even know Kate existed, and that she's just about as different from her mother as it's possible to be, Julie settles in to life with the eccentric Watkins family. And eccentric doesn't even really touch the surface when it comes to these people. Kind and generous, they are also incredibly . . . different. What with professor parents Erin and Roger never being around at all, MIT student Matt's over-the-top nerd shirts and doubtful social skills, and 13-year-old Celeste carting around a life-size cardboard cutout of her big brother Finn, whom she has dubbed Flat Finn. Between searching for a place to live, trying not to make a nuisance of herself, and navigating the obviously treacherous waters going on in this family, Julie has her work cut out for her. Doesn't help that she appears to be developing a crush on one far-flung member of the family along the way . . .

What is it about me and books set in Boston? It may come from having devoured a large quantity of Ellen Emerson White books as a young adult, but hand me a book about a girl and Boston and I am one happy clam. The hilarious thing is, I've never even been there! I dream about parts of this city I feel like I know like the back of my hand, I've read about them so many times. But I have yet to see them with my own eyes. One of these days . . .   So, rather unsurprisingly, I fell in love with Boston and the Watkins family right along with Julie. Quite frankly, it's impossible not to. They are wonderfully obtuse and endearing. The banter between Julie and Matt has a hilariously natural flow to it, as she ribs him for being hopelessly uninterested in Things Not Math, and he responds in kind teasing her for being too preoccupied with pop culture and caffeinated drinks and other lower aspects of life. Honestly, it is such a good time following the way Julie organically becomes a part of the family. She takes a special interest in Celeste, determined to get to the bottom of why she felt the need to create Flat Finn and what she's afraid will happen if she doesn't have him by her side (talking to him) every minute of every day. Finn himself is off traveling the world and his communications with Julie via Facebook had me grinning ferociously. As it happens, this book engaged every one of my emotions. The romance is of the heart-palpitating variety, somehow managing to be sweet, genuine, and seriously intense all at the same time. And even as I laughed out loud at one of Finn's many digital witticisms or one of Celeste's oddball contraction-free responses, fear crept up on me reading from behind. Fear of what Julie would find and that her finding it would shatter the fragile peace Matty, Celeste, Erin, Roger, and Finn had constructed. I wiped tears away more than once, and my love for every single one of the characters only grew and never diminished. Flat-Out Love is not only incredibly addicting but packs an emotional punch I felt in my gut for days after. Highly, highly recommended.

Linkage
Chachic's Book Nook review
The Compulsive Reader review
Janicu's Book Blog review
Rather be Reading review
Reading After Midnight review
Stuck in Books review
The YA Curator review

Comments

  1. You liked it! :)

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    1. I really, really did. So much tangled emotion. I wasn't right for awhile.

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  2. I still think about this story sometimes. It was really great and it made me feel so many things. I am glad that you liked it too.
    Great review!

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    1. It's still in my head! And I will definitely reread it.

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  3. Yay, you read this! And like Janice, it makes me happy that you enjoyed reading it. Lovely review, as always, Angie. I won't be surprised if this review convinces more readers to pick up the book.

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    1. Aw, thanks, Chachic. I hope it does. I think it has a potentially huge audience.

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  4. I loved this so much. Still thinking about it. It really caught me off guard.

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  5. Thanks for sharing this read.

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  6. I agree, this was an addicting read! The characters really stick with you - very sweet story that definitely had a lot of emotional impact.

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    1. I couldn't stop reading! And I am still thinking about it each day. Sign of a good read.

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  7. Great review, I shall definitely be picking this one up! I love when you love a book so much you need the hardcopy as well as the e-book version, although it does get a bit costly!

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    1. It does, doesn't it? I thought about it for a second with this one, but I knew I'd need to be able to feel the pages.

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  8. Angie, you make me want to read everything!! And, even if I wanted to, I can't resist this one, since it's an even better deal for the Kindle. *pushes "Buy Now"*

    You're infectious - in a good way.

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    1. LOL. Woo-hoo! I do hope it hits the spot for you, too.

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  9. Great review that sent me straight over to amazon where it was selling for a fantastic £2.62 (now even cheaper!). About 3/4 through now and thought I'd drop by to say thanks so much for bringing this story to my attention. I am absolutely loving the experience, hugely drawn in by the characters and looking forward to reading many more books by Jessica Park. Which are also selling at a great price right now... :)

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  10. Peta, I'm absolutely delighted you're reading and enjoying it! I felt the same way about the characters. Let me know when you finish it.

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    1. I finished it last night... Actually it's more accurate to say that I could not put it down until I had finished it! They were all such delightful, real and engaging characters and I'd absolutely love to re-visit them all in a few years to see how they get on. In fact, I definitely want to meet Celeste again when she's a bit older. That's be a good story. All in all a great read and sooo glad I read your review...and then impulse bought the book! Bad kindle. :)

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  11. So glad you enjoyed this! I picked up a hardcopy too after reading the ebook edition. Such a sweet read. And I loved that you called out the humor in the book as well as the romance. I'm sure more people will pick it up after reading your review.

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    1. Lucy, I've lent both my digital and hard copies out several times now. Love that! I hope people do pick it up. It deserves to travel.

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  12. Thank you so much for linking up the review! I just love this book so much and I can't wait to find a moment to pick it up again. I totally agree with you -- this book definitely managed to hit so many different emotions and I did enjoy Finn and Julie's heated internet exchanges for sure. :)

    Hope you have a great weekend! :)

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    1. Estelle, oh, my pleasure. I feel the same way. The internet exchanges and Facebook status updates really were hilarious and well done.

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  13. Oh, Angie, thank you for this one! I've found myself with more reading time than usual due to a surgery I'm recovering from (not a bad trade-off, actually), and remembered that I'd bought this after reading your review. I don't usually get to start and finish a book in one day anymore (darn those kids ;)) but I was up last night finishing this one. And when I finally turned out the light, I couldn't sleep because Matt and Julie and Celeste and their Finn were all inhabiting my mind and heart so fully. So, thank you, thank you, thank you again. It was delightful.

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    1. Jolie, you make my day with these comments. You know that, right?

      I love it when a book hits at the perfect time. Really glad your surgery went well, btw. And that you got to spend some concentrated time with Matt and Julie and Celeste and Finn. They've stuck in my mind ever since. How could they not?

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