Author: Jessica Park
Pages: 400 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Jessica Park
Release Date: April 11, 2011
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 opens up with Julie heading off to college and arriving at what she thinks is her new apartment. Actually, it's a burrito restaurant; now she's broke and homeless. What a great way to begin life in a new city! Of course she gets rescued, by the super adorable Matt! He is a geek extraordinaire and I loved him! (We both have this habit of correcting everything anyone says to us and going off on irrelevant tangents to explain our reasoning.) I can't say the same for Julie at the beginning. I just didn't get her. While thinking about her friends back home, she only had negative things to say about them. She basically called them airheads and said she had to dumb herself down for them. Why would you be friends with people who you know don't "get" you and would make fun of you for being smart? And she thought her ex-boyfriend was an asshole and a homosexual, so why date him?! She also teased Matt a lot for his geeky shirts and his random knowledge, but she came across as mean most of the time. Thankfully, their banter seemed to become more playful and less antagonistic as the book moved on.
However, I had to admire her for accepting Matt's 13 year old sister, Celeste's, quirks and for trying to help her. Celeste speaks like an Drama professor, dresses like a second-grader, carries around a cardboard cut-out of their older brother, Finn, and has no friends. Julie tries taking Celeste out to places and have girlie fun with her which was really nice, but some of her approaches were a bit shallow. Her relationship with Celeste was actually the main thing I cared about in the plot. I had a feeling that there was something else off about this family. I formed my own theory, and I was way off. The twist was a shock to me.
This book is chock full of hilarious quotes, but that didn't make up for my lack of interest in the story. I could probably recite a line from this for everyday for the rest of the year, but in a few weeks I may not be able to tell you anything about the story except for Celeste and the many Facebook conversations. There was a romance, which started out quite unconventionally and I liked that, but something seemed to be missing. I suppose I just didn't connect with this book as well as others. It's by no means a bad book. It's actually very well written, smart, witty, and emotional. It just wasn't for me.