Review: Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park



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.

It’s not what you know – or when you see – that matters. It’s about a journey.

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.



Sorry, it’s manu, I needed to shout my crazy love for this book, which has easily become one of my favorite, before getting serious with the review.

“Normal people can become very annoying if put in annoying situations.”

That’s something you won’t need to worry about, because in this book you’ll find only unique characters, everyone with his imperfections, his problems and everything else. This book will never be boring! Our heroine here, Julie Seagle, is funny, witty, really brave and strong. She just gives herself completely to the people she loves, she’s had her fair share of heartbreak in her life, but that never stopped her from loving without restraint. She’s a fixer; is it because she simply wants to help others? Or is it because she can’t fix her problem with her own dad and so she copes helping others? This book is all about these characters psychology, and I loved it. Julie leaves Ohio to go to college in Boston, but when she gets there she finds out that the apartment she should have stayed in was a restaurant. Luckily her mom’s college best friend, Erin Watkins, lives in Boston, so Julie can stay with her family.

“Mom, I have to go. I think this Matt character is here.”
“Are you sure it’s him?”
Julie peered into the car as the window lowered. “I see a maniacal-looking guy with brightly-colored candy in one hand, and he’s waving a sickle in the other. Oh! He’s beckoning me to the car. This must be my ride.”

Matt, is Erin’s son. Obviously he’s not maniacal-looking, he’s really handsome, cute and a geek. He always wears funny nerdy t-shirts; one of my favorites had written “Evolution follows me” on it.

Matt sidestepped the chair and took a few steps backward. “You have quite the attitude today. Suspicious and mean.”
Julie took a step forward, causing Matt to continue backing away. “Lift up your shirt.”
“Look, I appreciate an aggressive woman, but this is really getting weird.”
Julie grabbed his sweatshirt by the waist cuff and lifted it up with one hand, as she pulled down his T-shirt with the other. Matt put his hands over hers, lightly protesting, but she refused to let go. “Aha!” She squinted at his shirt.
“OK, I don’t even know what this is, but it’s definitely geeky.”

Matt is a genius, he’s always studying glued to his laptop. Julie and Matt have a beautiful friendship going on, full of banters and cuteness, you’ll love them. I loved them, and Matty made me sob a lot of times, and full on ugly crying more than once.

“Happy New Year, Julie.”
“Happy New Year, Matty.” She turned off the television and rolled onto her side. “Matty, I have another question for you.”
“Are you a skilled lover?”
“And that concludes our evening chat.”

Then we have Erin, and her husband, Roger. They’re both very absent parents. But they’re not the bad guys, and that I liked a lot. Julie immediatly likes them, and feels at home with them, and seeing the world through her eyes you’ll like them too. Julie didn’t really understend the depth of this family issues until she talked with one of here teachers about it. Because add to all this, their daughter, 13-year-old Celeste, a beautiful girl, incredibly smart, who has no friends, talks like a woman from the Victorian Age, and has a life-size cardboard cutout of her older brother, Finn, which she calls Flat Finn.

“Really, what’s the deal with Flat Finn?”
“After an unfortunate incident involving Wile E. Coyote and an anvil, Three Dimensional Finn had to change his name.”

Don’t get your hopes up, you won’t figure out what’s going on till the very end. But you’ll love the journey. You’ll end up loving Celeste and her quirky ways. (There’s a whole book about her Flat-Out Celeste, and I can’t wait to read it!). Finn is the oldest brother, hot and charming, who’s traveling all around the world doing incredible things. You can’t help loving him. While living with the Watkins, Julie starts chatting with the real Finn on Facebook. They have endless conversation, in the middle of the night, and there’s chemistry between the two of them. Talking (wel, writing) with each other just seems so easy. Plus, Finn has a way of making Julie all hot and bothered, for example, telling her what it would feel like skydiving with him.

“So we’ve pulled the chute, and we’re drifting, riding the sky. It’s just you and me. You can hear me now that we’re falling like this, remember? I tell you that I don’t want this to end. I don’t want to land and reach the real world, because I like our world up here better.”

And what a world they’re in! They’ve never met, and it might seem impossible, but they’re cleary starting to have feelings for each other. Julie even tried to date a really nice guy, but it didn’t work.

“He just wasn’t the guy, you know? I want the guy. The everything guy. Not the dumb Prince Charming, nauseatingly-perfect everything guy. That’s pathetic. I want the flaws-and-all everything guy.”

Usually Matt is the one taking care of Celeste, but since Julie is staying at their house for free, she’s now the one taking care of Celeste, getting her to and from school. But Julie knows that every member of this family is coping with whatever happened to them in the wrong way, and they’re all enabling each other. Flat Finn was Celeste’s idea, but maybe everyone else needs it as much as she does. So Julie takes it upon herself to fix this family, and just her being there changed everything; they all start getting better, but it’s a ticking bomb.

You can look back now and see how you should have known, but you were focusing on the facts instead of the feeling.

Gaaaahhhhh I need to re-read this book soon! When I finished it, I only wanted to start it again to see if I would find any clues. For now, though, I’ll just cry my heart out reading Flat-Out Matt, Matt’s side of the story.

“I ask you to ignore everything you think you know and to listen only to your heart, without doubting anything. Can you do that?”

Flat-Out Love made me laugh a lot, swoon, smile like an idiot, and cry for hours.

Gut-wrenching, overpowering, crushing, fulfilling, complex, bring-you-to-your-knees love.

This quote perfectly explain my love for this book! I hope you give it a chance, if you haven’t already, since it came out in 2011 (seriously, how is it possible that no one recommended this to me?! I’m kinda offended).

Feel free to share your feelings, I have still a lot to say about this one.

manuela calloway sisters


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