Thursday, June 28, 2012

Review: Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park

Flat-Out LoveBook: Flat-Out Love
Author: Jessica Park
Publisher: Self-Published
Pages: 400
My rating: 3 Stars
Goodreads Summary:
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 comes complete with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages.
There is no denying that Flat-Out Love is a very well-done book. That despite Jessica Park's little team-up with Jamie McGuire, this book will make you feel. Even though she's not acting cordially through her her support of McGuire in attacks against reviewers, I do not regret reading this book. The behavior of an author does make my opinion of him/her fall considerably, but it doesn't stop me from reading a book that promises to be good.

The revelation at the end was mind-blowing. I had no idea it was coming until a couple pages before (probably because I was up at 3 AM finishing up). Park duped me, and I feel simultaneously gratified and offended.

The cast of characters...I loved the characters in this book. Celeste, Matt, Erin, Finn...Ha. The dialogue was quick and witty, and I couldn't put the book down. I read it, in fact, for 5 straight hours. It's beautiful. This messed up, dysfunctional family, was beautiful. Julie was plenty amazing, too, with the way she deals with the situation and her attempts to help. Even though it was hard to like her at first for her rejection of the quirks of the Watkins family, her behavior towards Celeste and Flat Finn was enough to redeem her in the end.

I need to reread all of the messages with Finn after this. Damn it, that was brilliant.

I decided to be diplomatic and rate it a fair 3 stars, because even though I gave my honest opinion in this review, I still can't completely forget Park's past behavior.

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