by Jessica Park
amazon - Kindle £2.84
Book Description (Taken from Goodreads)
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 is more than a love story between two people. Although there is romance, Jessica Park’s contemporary YA novel for me was more about the love of a family, and the lengths people will go to, to help the ones they love.
If you do work out the twist from the beginning of Flat-Out Love, I promise you it won’t detract from your enjoyment of the story. If you don’t work it out, then you’re in for a clever and heart-squeezing ride. The heroine Julie is a likeable college Freshman who descends on Boston (I always wanted to go to Boston, now I’m frickin’ antsy after Park’s wonderful descriptions) and a super intelligent family to turn their lives upside down. The best thing about Julie is her genuine likeability – she has a huge heart and an absolutely insane sense of humour that I loved. The Watkins family is really special too. Matt the MIT geek is funny and likeable and so sweetly protective of his little sister Celeste. As for Celeste and her cardboard copy of her big brother Finn she takes with her everywhere… oh holy hell she made me laugh. She’s cute, completely socially awkward and blunt in a way you can’t help but love.
My favourite thing about the entire book was probably the dialoguing. Suffice to say the banter is excellent. The IMs between Finn and Julie had me laughing out loud, they were so off the wall and my exact sense of humour (and actually reminiscent of the kinds of stuff me and my friends gibber nonsensically about in emails).
The writing itself is easy, modern prose that sweeps you through the book (I read it in one sitting) and catches you in the gut and in those laughter lines around the eye with its beautiful simplicity and poignant perception of a family in need.
Wonderful read. I highly recommend.
Five Massive Massive Stars!