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Flat-Out Love #1

Flat-Out Love

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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.

389 pages, Kindle Edition

First published April 11, 2011

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About the author

Jessica Park

17 books4,197 followers
Jessica is the author of 180 SECONDS, CLEAR, The Left Drowning Series (LEFT DROWNING and RESTLESS WATERS), the New York Times bestselling FLAT-OUT LOVE (& the companion novella FLAT-OUT MATT), FLAT-OUT CELESTE, and RELATIVELY FAMOUS. She lives in New Hampshire where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.

Please visit her at jessicapark.me and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/authorjessic... and Twitter @JessicaPark24

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5 stars
21,889 (37%)
4 stars
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3 stars
11,006 (18%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 5,482 reviews
Profile Image for Colleen Hoover.
Author 78 books644k followers
May 27, 2020
There was way too much yodeling in this book, but other than that, it's one of the best books I've read in this genre. I highly recommend it. I think Jessica Park is a very talented author. She writes good. Or is it well? (That's why I'm a reviewer and not an author.)
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
832 reviews3,722 followers
February 15, 2021

Congrats, Flat-Out Love. Welcome to the very limited circle of books I hated. Say hello to The Perfect Game for me, would you?

Buddy read with Kat (click to read her review), who saved my sanity (thanks for the support through this!!)

But because my inner circle of doom rewards its members as they deserve, let's start with little awards, 'kay?

But first of all........ Music!

► It comes as no surprise that Julie easily earns the most insufferable ès judgmental heroine medal for her endless efforts throughout the story. The jury was really impressed by the abilities she showed in being a disrespectful and arrogant friend and daughter.

Here's a little presentation of her greatest deeds : Indeed through her constant inner monologues, we see her unfailing perseverance in making fun of others, whether she thinks they're dumb, lame, or annoying. Kudos for never forgetting that everyone and everything is beneath her.

About her former friends : "Now she was out of small-town Ohio, out of that below average high school, and out of a social circle dominated by girls blindly cheering on their sports boyfriends."

About her ex-boyfriend : "Speaking of Jared, Julie wondered what he was doing right now. Probably sporting a toga and doing keg stands at the miserable state university he was attending. She hoped he was lost in a crowd of dumb jocks and getting rejected by every busty, tank-top-wearing, fake-tanned airhead he hit on."

Wonderful. Just wonderful.

About random girls she doesn't even know (but hey, she listened to their vocal messages, I'm sure it counts somewhere) : "She didn't know if she was jealous of that fourth roommate or not. That Sally sounded an awful lot like the perky-yet-vacant crowd she'd left behind at home. On the other hand, there was something to be said about for a core gaggle of girls who would love nothing more than to order pizza, do each others' hair, and watch tawdry reality shows."

Wow. She got all these details out of the way the girl says hello on her vocal message? I'm really impressed.

Her conversations with Matt, the son of the family welcoming her in their house, are full of "witty" bullying and aggressive remarks the poor guy never deserved.

"Let's discuss your choice of attire for the evening."
Matt hit the touchpad a few times. "Really? What aspects would you like to discuss?"
"Let's discuss how lame it is."

This is just fantastic, isn't it? Don't you see how CLEVER and WITTY she is? What do you mean, you DON'T? Come on. Don't be like that. Not to mention that she does think about his life, too. Well, she doesn't want to invite him to come along when she goes out because, well, duh, he's so freaking beneath her (can you please follow?) but she considers keeping an eye on his sister someday to give him the occasion to attend a party. How's that for best roommate ever, huh?

"Not that he looked like the sort who was aching to do keg stands in a frat house, but still. There might be a physics bee some Friday night, and he could return home with a nice ribbon for having spelled "coulomb" or "neutralino" correctly"

Again, so freaking WITTY and CLEVER.

About her mother, in a text message : "Mom is OK. A little... lacking depth, maybe? But nice."

Don't worry though, because she really wants to help Celeste, the daughter of the house who is going through difficult times. Indeed she decides to take her under her wing, and manages to develop a bond between them without never making me care. That's an achievement to behold really. What can I say, I guess that telling me that she cares isn't enough for me to believe her. Come on. We're talking about self-absorbed Julie here.

See, I have no problem with unlikeable characters, as soon as their behavior is acknowledged as being offensive. Never, at any point, is she called on her shit. Am I supposed to think that belittling everything and everyone is okay? That being plain bully with someone we just met is okay? That talking about a family welcoming you with your professor of psychology is okay? FUCK NO.

To be honest, at one point Kat and I considered the possibility that Julie suffered from a mental-illness because the distortion between what we see and what she describes is freaking HUGE. Don't bother wondering, that's not the plot twist (more about that later).

► For the unrealistic and over-the-top quirky conversations, Flat-Out Love wins the award of the most unbelievable and fake set of characters. Woohoo!

Look, I always considered myself as a nerd but by no means could I relate - or connect, at least - with any of these characters. Their interactions are ridiculous, roll-eyes worthy and more generally, completely unbelievable. Jessica Park's writing isn't bad, but she tries way too much to convey a sense of oddity. Her characters aren't weird, they're freaking cyborgs.

► Finally, for the predictable, "I-saw-it-coming-at-20%" plot "twist", I'd like to offer Flat-Out Love the Golden Globe of easy roads. I'm sorry, but when the big revelation is obvious from 20%, I consider myself insulted in my intelligence.

☻ ☻ ☻ Now, because I want to prove that I'm not one to hold a grudge, I prepared several little games about that *cough* ridiculous *cough* story. You're welcome. *blows kiss*

Find the words!

Complete the sentences!

Cryptogram puzzle!

Answer :

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Maja (The Nocturnal Library).
1,013 reviews1,880 followers
August 25, 2011
The first review I wrote consisted almost entirely of incoherent gushing. This one is pretty much like that, but I did manage to include some useful info. Don’t expect much, though. I can’t remember the last time I felt this way about a book.

As a dedicated reader, I don't think I've ever connected to a story quite this much. There are so many books that are close to my heart for some reason or other, but there was never one so achingly familiar and mine. And it wasn’t just one character that I felt close to, but parts of every character and every situation. I recognized some of myself in Julie’s dedication to her studies, in Celeste’s quirks, in Matt’s courage and hidden vulnerability, in Erin’s absentness and denial. It was nice to be able to read a story and really understand.

I’m making it sound like a sad book, aren’t I? Well, it’s not. This is a book you want to read when you're feeling a little nostalgic and disconnected from the world. It will pull you right out. Flat-Out Love is surprisingly witty. During the first 80%, I thought I could describe it as my favorite summer read. However, the last 20% showed me that it’s so much more than that. Every emotional reaction the story evoked was very strong: when I laughed, I laughed so loudly that I woke the neighbors; when I cried, I sobbed like I was facing the end of the world, and in the end, I melted into a huge puddle of goo.

After moving to Boston to start attending college, Julie found herself living with her mother’s former best friend Erin and her seemingly perfect family of intellectuals. She soon became emotionally attached to every member of the Watkins family, especially the oldest brother Finn, whom she never met in person, but communicated with regularly via email.

”Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” (Leo Tolstoy)

I think there are two types of dysfunctional families: the ones that yell and the ones that are quiet – the latter being so much harder to portray. Character development is what Jessica Park should really be proud of. Her characters came alive for me, they became living, breathing people with problems, quirks and a sense of humor. Who could resist Celeste, a scarily intelligent 13-year-old who won’t leave the house without Flat Finn, a cardboard cutout of her oldest brother? Or Matt, a math geek with horrible T-shirts and a sense of humor that’s right up my alley?

Flat-Out Love completely changed my mind about self published books.I hope all of you will read it soon so we can gush about it together.
Profile Image for  ⊱Sonja•●❤️.
2,062 reviews386 followers
November 14, 2022
Julie beginnt ihr Studium in Boston, doch ihr erster Tag in der fremden Stadt beginnt mit einer kleinen Katastrophe. Julie ist auf einen Betrüger hereingefallen und muss feststellen, dass sie keine Unterkunft in Boston hat. Zum Glück hat ihre Mutter eine alte Schulfreundin in der Stadt, die Julie zunächst bei sich aufnimmt. Doch die Familie dieser alten Schulfreundin ist ein wenig seltsam, wenn auch sehr nett. Julie fühlt sich aber bald sehr wohl bei Erin und ihrer Familie, und wie sich herausstellt, ist Julie gerade zur rechten Zeit aufgetaucht...
Mein Leseeindruck:
Ich muss gestehen, dass mich dieses Buch sehr positiv überraschen konnte. Ich hatte eine leichte und wenig anspruchsvolle Jugendlektüre erwartet, und die erste Hälfte des Buches war dann auch genauso, wie ich es mir eigentlich vorgestellt hatte.
Doch dann gewinnt die Geschichte an Tiefe und konnte mich sehr fesseln, so dass ich das Buch bald nicht mehr weglegen mochte und einfach nur weiterlesen musste.
Zugegeben, die Charaktere sind zum Teil etwas schräg und nicht immer sehr realitätsnah, aber andererseits macht genau das auch ihren Charme aus. Auf jeden Fall mochte ich die Protagonisten und habe sie alle ins Herz geschlossen.
Die zweite Hälfte des Buches war für mich sehr packend und gefühlvoll, auch wenn vieles nicht mehr überraschen konnte. Man kann sich schon ungefähr denken, in welche Richtung sich die Geschichte drehen wird.
Mich hat das Buch auf jeden Fall überzeugt; ich habe es sehr gerne gelesen und werde es auch gerne weiterempfehlen!
Profile Image for xrysa.
143 reviews914 followers
February 24, 2013
The truth is that when I started reading this I expected a romance story.

But I wasnt disappointed , because this was awesome!

How would you feel if your apartment deal fell through ?

That would be bad...
Fortunatelly Julie's mother contacts with an old college friend , so Julie is moving at their home.

The Watkins seem to be a weird family with many secrets that Julie discovers during the book.However the oddest thing of all is Celeste , the youngest member of this family.

She wasn't crazy , she was just missing her older brother Finn.
In order to cover this hole in her life she carries around a life-sized cardboard photo of her older brother.
Matt was a nerdy , hot guy.

I was absolutelly in love with his personality. He was funny and a teaser sometimes.
There is also Finn, the oldest brother.
He is never around , he is always travelling through the world.
Julie , adds him on facebook and they start chatting.
She discovers that this guy is amazing.
He is hot , adventurous , brave and smart.

This was also a book about crappy parents.
Erin was mentally messed-up I cant blame her but Julie's father was awful.

Well as the book was reaching the end I was thinking that there is nothing else that might happen.

I didnt see that coming.
I was kind of happy but mostly sad with the real story.
That explained everything but they were lucky to have Julie with them .She helped them move on.

Profile Image for Limonessa.
300 reviews508 followers
September 4, 2011
Have you ever...

-got a crush on a penfriend you never or barely met?
-pined a whole year - or more - for your summer crush?
-fallen in love with the idea of someone, idolizing him/her and thus making him/her perfect?

In other words:

Have you ever fallen in love with LOVE?

If you've recognized yourself in any of these questions, then this is the book for you.

Julie is from Ohio but she's starting college in Boston. When she arrives to find the apartment she thought she rented to be a total scam, her last resource is to call her mother's long lost college friend, Erin, to help her out and give her a temporary roof while she looks for a solution.
This is how Julie meets the Watkins family: Erin and Roger, the academic and self-involved parents, Finn, the fascinating older brother on a backpacking tour around the world, Matt, the middle brother, a math and physics nerd with a fetish for smartass T-shirts and Celeste, the 13 year old quirky sister of the family.
The Watkinses seem to be a regular enough family on the surface but Julie soon realizes that all is not well with these people's familial dynamics. What irks her the most is that she can't point her finger at the exact cause: everything seems to rotate around Celeste but there's just something that they are not telling her and that she is determined to find out...

This book would have normally received 4 stars from me.
If you're wondering to which genre it belongs, I'd categorize it as a more-adult-than-young YA college chick lit. And a very, very good one. Aside from being well written, it pushed all the right buttons for me.
It made me laugh out loud frequently, and not in a silly way but in a I-wish-I was-there-to-laugh-with-you way.
It took me back in time, wishing I could have back my late teenage years and the butterflies in the stomach feelings of my first crush(es). It really was a trip down memory lane for me.
It's got every good characterization and aside from Julie and Matt, I dare you not to be completely engrossed by Celeste and her personality.
Finally, it's got a very good plot and it's not very often that I can say that I was totally oblivious as to what would be missing piece of the jigsaw to understand the Watkins family.
I would have taken away a star, or maybe half a star, for the ending which I found excessively cheesy and slightly awkward.

That is, if this book were a regular book.
But this book is self published. Now, my - somewhat limited - experience with self published books has been disastrous to put it mildly. Bad editing bothers me a whole lot. There are already many, many published books which are badly edited, I don't really see the point in subjecting myself to books which have not undergone the scrutiny of professional eyes and been polished.
But this is NOT and I was really and very pleasantly surprised. THIS is how it's done. For me, this book is close to perfect and if only for that it deserves the final missing star.

Especially recommended for first crush nostalgics and hopeless romantics.
Profile Image for Nina.
52 reviews30 followers
March 11, 2019
Ugh. Could not bring myself to finish this book. Julie, the main character, started to annoy me from Chapter 2 onward. But this got a lot of high ratings so I gave it a shot and soldiered on, but even after 100+ pages in, I still could not see why it's supposed to be good. Julie is the kind of person who will never be my friend if she existed in real life.

Almost each chapter began with a Facebook status of each of the three leads, but more often than not these didn't even have anything to do with the story. And they weren't even witty!

And the supposed "twist" was so easy to figure out, it shouldn't even be considered as such.

I don't want to waste my time finishing this book anymore. I'm sure there are hundreds of other books out there more worthy of my time. Moving on.

UPDATE March 30, 2013

I just found out that there is another version of this book written in the guy's point of view (Flat Out Matt). Why anyone would make another version of this insipid story is beyond me.
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,282 reviews3,316 followers
October 5, 2018
Nothing about this book is predictable

Sniff. Just read the other glowing reviews because I’m at a loss for words. But should anyone see Ms Jessica -I’m going to break your heart then glue it back- Park, tell her readers have feelings too. Sniff.
Profile Image for Karla.
986 reviews1,090 followers
December 31, 2012
Only .99 on Amazon 12/31/12, and if you haven't read it...it's definitely worth checking out!

5 HUGE STARS! Incredible book, from an incredible talent...I LOVED it!

Nothing flat about this book at all, it’s bursting at the seams with delightful characters, raw emotion, terrific dialogue, humor and heartache. This is a beautifully written unconventional love story. It’s hard to put into words how much this book touched me. Jessica Park is one of those extraordinary writers that draws you in and has you feeling every emotion, good and bad. I wanted to stay with the Watkins and Julie forever, revel in their triumphs and help them to live, not just exist. I can’t recommend this book enough. It's a great read for teens and adults. Set aside time, because once you start you won’t be able to stop.

Major spoiler!
Profile Image for Stacia (the 2010 club).
1,045 reviews3,947 followers
June 27, 2012
*Update 06/12* My thoughts have changed about the book and my rating has been lowered. I am unable to explain why though, due to reasons which are not allowed to be stated because they are in conflict of GR policy of what is/is not allowed in a review.

*Original Review for the book 10/11*

Flat-Out Love definitely falls more on the "girly" side, but I enjoyed it almost as much as I enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss.

The story follows a girl named Julie who is swindled out of her money when she gets to Boston and finds out that the college apartment she had reserved does not exist. An old friend of her mom's living nearby steps in and invites her to live with them - in the home of a completely dysfunctional family that is falling apart. Julie manages to take refuge in the emails and Facebook updates (some of which are completely funny) of the brother whose room she is staying in while he's off "traveling the globe." I don't blame her for falling for Finn, the human version of a cardboard cutout named "Flat Finn" that the little sister drags around because she's missing her brother. Then you have the complete math geek brother who can be a pain most of the time, but you can tell he's hurting inside as well because he shoulders a lot of responsibility for the family, which also makes you want to know more about him.

I can not begin to explain this book well enough to do it justice. There was so much more to the story than I was expecting when I started. It always makes a book more special for me when an author can take the reader through a range of emotions, making you giddy and smiling one moment, and feeling the sting of hurt the next.

Just by the name and summary, I figured that Flat-Out Love was going to be a light and potentially funny read, and it was. But there was a lot of heartache bubbling under the surface, which I hadn't planned on.

If you're one of those people who feels like you've been reading the same story over and over, then you'll want to pick up this book. It's definitely different from anything else I'd recently read.

Profile Image for Aestas Book Blog.
1,059 reviews74.8k followers
June 15, 2012
Wow! I absolutely FLAT-OUT LOVED this book!!!

"...that's what love does to you. Gut-wrenching, overpowering, crushing, fulfilling, complex, bring-you-to-your-knees love."

It was beautiful!! It kept me hooked right from the beginning. It was amazing, heart warming and a little heart wrenching, with light and funny moments, as well as deeply emotional ones. The dialogue was clever and witty and had me laughing out so many times. But this book was not a fluff read - it was deep, touching, and bittersweet. Oh, and it has the best midnight drunken phone call ever! :)

"I'd just have to meet the right guy. Someone who isn't ordinary. Someone who gets me. Someone I fit perfectly with. I want heat, chemistry, an undeniable connection."

Julie has a wonderful voice. The story had me smiling from the first few pages. It starts when Julie moves to a new city for college. The apartment that she rented off of Craigslist turned out to be a scam and she ends up staying with the family of an old friend of her mom's for the year. The family is kind and loving but Julie senses an undercurrent of something deeply wrong and hurt with them and she can't stop herself from wanting to help them heal even though she has no idea what is wrong. There is Matt, the hot yet nerdy brother who seems to take care of everyone, Celeste, the sweet and extremely bright 13 year old sister who carries around (everywhere),talks to and interacts with a life-size cardboard cutout of her eldest gorgeous brother Finn who is off traveling the world, to the absent yet loving parents who immerse themselves in their work. Julie is given Finn's room to stay in and she connects with him through Facebook and despite having never met him, feelings begin to develop for this charming, fun-loving and deeply caring guy that she just can't get out of her head.

The characters in this book seemed so vivid. You really get the feeling when reading it that you are experiencing the story and its partly because of how much it integrates everything into the it - Facebook statuses, emails, private messages as well as the regular dialogue and story. It really helps to immerse you in the story and connect with the characters. You can very quickly garner so much from someone's Facebook status about their personality that just doesn't feel the same if you were told it. Most chapters start with each characters' Facebook statuses and through them, which helps you learn so much about them in a really cute and adorable way.

" Matthew Watkins I need an afternoon pick-me-up. I accept cash and/or prizes that can be exchanged for cash. Also, hobbits.
Finn is God If you get off your high horse, you'll notice that it, too, poops.
Julie Seagle Mixed emotions regarding Twitter continue. Am again facing warnings about unprotected Tweets, but it's not my fault the condom won't fit over the laptop. "A" for effort and whatnot, I think."

This book is about relationships. Not just romantic ones, but also about deep family connections. It deals with many painful hurts that the family has experienced and throughout the book we see their healing process as this dysfunctional family puts the broken pieces of their lives back together.

I loved how caring Matt was - how he was always looking after everyone, I loved how quirky yet so perceptive Celeste was, and I loved how flirty and understanding Finn was.

This book made me misty-eyed several, it made my heart race and would often keep a smile on my face for pages on end. I totally felt sucked into Julie's world - into the affection she feels for Matt and his charming yet geeky personality, to the acceptance she shows Celeste and her strong desire not to give up on helping her heal, and to the growing attraction that she feels for Finn - as she slowly falls in love with him over their online communication. Honestly, I never thought I could fall in love with a character without actually 'meeting' them but boy was I wrong!! Finn had me falling in complete 'swoon' with him in no time.

The writing is very fluid, the pacing is excellent - there are no slow points and no points where you feel like you missed a big chunk of time, Ms. Park's storytelling is addictive - I didn't want to put this books down. Given a choice, I would totally have read it in one sitting!

There is a big family secret that leads to a twist to the end of the book! I had a gut-feelingin the beginning that turned out to be right and I'm curious to see how many of you also guess it :)

The story has a wonderful HEA though - no worries!!

I'd definitely call this book a must-read! I'd highly recommend it! And I think it's definitely a book that I will be re-reading.
Profile Image for Elizabeth (Liz).
609 reviews393 followers
December 21, 2011
Goodreads asks me, 'What did you think?'. How in the world do I appropriately, adequately, answer that question with regard to Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park?! I'm certainly no author; I'm not even a 'real' reviewer. So, how do I put into words just how much I love this story and admire the talent and sheer genius of Jessica Park?

I don't do plot summaries, as should be more than evident by now. It's easy enough to read the summary and decide for yourself if this sounds like something that might interest you. There's really no way I could do this plot justice anyway. I will say, briefly, that this story is about a family's pain and absolutely essential emotional growth. A young woman is introduced into this family, and becomes the catalyst for their re-emergence into the living world...painful as that may be. However, for all that this sounds like there could be no other option but for this story to be deep and dark and painful? It is just the opposite. It is intelligent, witty, strange, loving, dysfunctional, forgiving, accepting, understanding, and, ultimately, joyful. The characters are growing and becoming whole again, as you laugh and nod and think, 'No! Really?!'. Yes, really. Even if you, early on, guess the family's 'secret', as I did, you literally can. not. stop. reading. Jessica Park captures your attention from the beginning, and never lets it go, until the very end. And, by then, you're thinking, 'What?! It's over??'. We're advised so often to appreciate the journey. With this book, you do. You absolutely do.

I cannot recommend this story highly enough. It is, without a doubt, a new favorite of mine, and, for me, an unequivocal 5-star read!!! Thoroughly unique and enjoyable! Do not miss this!
Profile Image for Christy.
3,758 reviews32k followers
October 7, 2022
5 stars
“It was always you. I thought it was somebody else, but it was you. You were the person I felt.”

Flat-Out Love is sweet, charming, and has such a great twist. I love Jessica Park's writing and will be reading many more of her books to come! This story is beautiful, emotional, and made me laugh. Matt, Julie, Celeste, I loved them all. This is a must read book. Highly recommend!
Profile Image for Anniebananie.
523 reviews393 followers
February 19, 2017
In weniger als 24 Stunden verschlungen, das ist mir auch schon lange nicht mehr passiert und das ganze obwohl ich grad noch mitten in der Prüfungsphase in der Uni stecke. Allein daran lässt sich schon erkennen wie gut mir das Buch gefallen hat. Ich fand die Geschichte einfach so niedlich und auch einfach berührend. Abgesehen davon war sie auch skurril und witzig. Der Schreibstil war dem ganzen auch angemessen und lies sich flott lesen. Auch die Charaktere mochte ich alle furchtbar gern und das Ende hat mich dann auch noch zu Tränen gerührt. Eine wirklich empfehlenswerte Geschichte, die mehr Tiefgang hat, als es zu Anfang scheint.
Profile Image for  Lady Jayne *~*The Beach Bandida*~*.
118 reviews383 followers
May 31, 2012
(This is an Adult-who-enjoys-reliving-the-stirrings-of-first-love-and-self-discovery-during-the-teen-years-through-YA books review ^_^)

5 + Stars!

Also reviewed at: Lady Jayne's Reading Den

WOW. I FLAT-OUT LOVE this book by self-published author, Jessica Park!!!

This quote sums up how this book made me feel, how it inspired me through my journey with it, and even after I reluctantly closed its pages...

I’ve been struggling with my reading lately and I wanted a story that would really captivate me and this is just what I asked for. Thank you to my dear Goodreads friend, Karla, for recommending this to me!

I haven’t written any reviews in a few months but I seriously just HAD TO write one to share my LOVE for this book! Please, give this book a go!

The story begins with this quote:
“It's not what you know - or when you see - that matters. It's about the journey.”
This quote had me thinking from the get-go.

In Flat-Out Love, Jessica Park takes readers on an amazing journey with some incredibly crafted, quirky and lovable characters. This story is truly special because of the engaging, entertaining, sweet, heartbreaking and emotional journey it took me on. I was laughing, smiling, sighing, my heart aching, crying, and feeling positively giddy when I finished this. I hope it touches other readers as much as it did me. This was such a beautiful and wonderful story, with characters who will remain in my heart for a long, long time! Thank you, Jessica Park!

I loved it so much I bought the paperback.

Whether you’re a reader, like me, who feels you know what’s going on from the first few chapters yet keep hoping it’s not true, or a reader who is taken by surprise, at the end, one thing is for sure, even if you think you know what’s going on, I believe you will be captivated by this story, its characters, and staying up late to finish it.

Yes, there’s a mystery in this story, but this isn’t a Mystery book, and even if you figure out the secret early on, I don’t think it will detract from your enjoyment of the story. In fact, for me, having strong beliefs about what was going on with this dysfunctional family - even though I wasn't 100% sure - added a layer and subtext to my reading that had me feeling things I might not have felt, about certain communications, were it not for my beliefs surrounding the big secret of the Watkins family. If that makes sense…

Flat-Out Love is an intelligent, unique, humorous, witty, quirky, warm and heartbreaking story of love, family, and coping mechanisms, but most of all, it is about a journey – several characters’ journeys – towards healing and living.

This is not a YA Romance per se, but there was certainly a beautiful romance in it. It is a slow-building romance, so please bear with it, because it had me in tears and smiling, at the end.

Flat-Out Love is the story of Julie Seagle who moves from Ohio to Boston to attend college. I loved that this was a YA book set in the first year of college rather than the mostly high school fare out there. When Julie’s housing plans fall through, she is kindly welcomed into the Watkins home, the home of Julie’s mother’s college friend. But Julie discovers there is something “off” about this family, where their thirteen year old daughter, Celeste, has “Flat Finn”, a cardboard cut-out with her, for everything other than school, of her adventurous eldest brother, Finn, who is off travelling the world on various volunteer projects, and enjoys skydiving and bungee jumping.

I adored Julie and her clever wit, her ability to be so understanding of Celeste’s eccentricities, and her courage and strength to want to help the Watkins family. I also adored sweet, intelligent and nerdy Maths and Physics major, Matt, and how protective and so “there” he was for his family. I enjoyed Julie’s, Matt’s, and Finn’s Facebook status updates, Julie and Finn’s Facebook messages and chats, and Julie and Matt’s banter. And Celeste was just so precious.

It was humour like in this scene at the beginning, where Matt is picking Julie up, for the first time, which had me laughing out loud:
‘“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 with the other. Oh! He’s beckoning me to the car. This must be my ride.”’
And to share something of a scene that made me sigh and gave me tingles:
‘His hand was still on her back, his fingertips starting to trace the curve of her shoulder blade, moving up to brush the nape of her neck, then traveling up and down her arm. She took his free hand in hers, intertwining their fingers, and squeezed.
He squeezed back.’

‘His mouth was soft and unhurried. Teasing, even. His tongue brushing hers and making her tremble. She kissed back, tasting him, breathing him in. Julie was dizzy, and shaky, and inundated with his heat. He made her temporarily lost, not able to see beyond the way this kiss felt.’


My images of the characters…

Julie Seagle (Carly Rae Jepsen)

Matthew Watkins (Benjamin Stone)

Finn Watkins (Alex Pettyfer)

Celeste Watkins (Chloe Grace Moretz)

COPYRIGHT DISCLAIMER: I do not hold the copyright to any of the images used in this review. They are posted to add visuals to the review and for fun. If any of these images are yours and you would like me to remove them, please let me know, and I will do so as soon as possible. If I can identify the copyright, I will do so.

Profile Image for Kristin (KC).
251 reviews25.1k followers
October 11, 2014
*5 Stars!*

Flat Out Love was such a beautiful, touching, and heartfelt story that left me sorting out my feelings for days before I could properly sum them up. 

I won't go into details over plot, as there is an extreme twist that I would hate to reveal, but I will say that I loved every little bit of this unique story! The characters were lovable and life-like, and I fully enjoyed their witty back-and-forth banter and charming dialogue. There were some moments, however, where I felt there could have been a stronger distinction between some of the characters' personalities. Although each of them had their own unique quirks, their sense of humor and wit seemed to blend into one, at times. (I must add that this in no way hindered my love for this story.) Celeste, who is quite possibly the most unique character from any book I've ever read, was the major exception. I adored and rooted for her entirely.

I went into this book thinking I'd settled on a fun, sweet read — but was left with so, SO much more. This heartbreaking portrayal of a broken family brought me to tears, while an intense love strong enough to withstand it all amazed and inspired me. I was instantly sucked into this story and it has yet to let me go...

Image and video hosting by TinyPic Book Stats:
▪ Genre/Category: Young Adult
▪ Steam Caliber: Mild/fairly clean
▪ Romance: Slow-burn
▪ Characters: Unique, witty, charming. Life-like.
▪ Plot: Layered, original, with a twist in storyline.
▪ Writing: Excellent. Engaging and humorous.
▪ POV: 3rd Person Perspective
▪ Cliffhanger: None/ Standalone
▪ Next Installment: Perspective switch

Profile Image for Lady Gabriella of Awesomeness (SLOW).
520 reviews758 followers
April 29, 2016
★★★★★ 5 stars★★★★★

"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.”

This book,is one of those many fabulous books,with story-lines that stick with you for a life time.The best thing about this book was that the characters are so uniquely damaged.Even with all their tortured past and bizarre habits,I loved how the characters managed to pass off as fun and quirky.More like in a Alice-in-wonderland style.

I loved how the author,Jessica park,actually managed to build a story around such volatile situations and craziness while managing on keeping the reader captivated and intrigued until the end.

RECOMMENDATION :TO EVERYONE....Seriously you've got to read this atleast once,push this up your TBR and give it a chance..Who know ? It might just end up being a favorite :)

P.S: WATCH OUT for the huge PLOT-Twist ! ;)
Profile Image for BookLover.
385 reviews81 followers
April 12, 2019
Full disclosure - I picked up this book a gazillion years ago and it got buried in my to-read pile. As is my style, I began reading it because of the pretty cover WITHOUT actually reading the description and reminding myself what it was going to be about.

This was such a unique story. Julie was off to college far away from home and excited to experience new things. She didn’t anticipate getting ripped off and having no place to live. Cue Erin, an old friend of her mother’s, who stepped in, via her son Matt, to rescue Julie and gave her a roof over her head. So at this point I was guessing this was going to be a romance about Julie and Matt, right? I was not prepared for the actual story-line and everything that was Flat Finn.

“Oh, Julie! I didn't introduce you properly, did I?" Celeste chirped happily and then turned to the seat next to her. "Flat Finn, this is Julie. Julie, this is Flat Finn.”

As a result of separation anxiety over her brother, Finn, traveling, Celeste had become un-naturally attached to a life-size cutout of her absent brother. For reasons Julie couldn’t pull from Erin, Roger or Matt, Celeste was enabled.

In some ways, this had a very “Lars and the Real Girl” feel to it. (one of my all-time favourite movies- please don’t judge) Though very serious issues were at the heart of the story, I enjoyed the mostly light hearted approach to it, mainly thanks to Julie. I loved Julie’s outlook on life and, in particular, her no nonsense approach in trying to help Celeste come out of her shell. Her digs towards flat Finn were so dead-pan and hilarious.

"He is a bit unsettled by this. I've never had my nails painted."
Julie turned around and glared at Flat Finn. "Every girl has a right to painted nails, so you better get settled quick, Flatty.”
“Celeste giggled. "Oh, he didn't like that name one bit."

In among all of the Celeste oddness, Matt seemed to have been left with the lion's share of responsibility in that household and I found myself so outraged on his behalf. I kept wanting to shake Erin and Roger and remind them both that THEY were the parents and Matt should get a chance to be a proper college student.

Julie and Matt’s growing friendship was amusing and, though Julie seemed to be in the dark, it was super obvious to me that they had chemistry and a strong bond. The back and forth between them showed such a camaraderie and like mindedness.

“Bye, Matt. Maybe I'll text you in Webdings later and give you an update on my evening." Her heels clicked soundly on the floor as she headed down the stairs.
"Webdings one, two, or three?" Matt's voice rang through the stairwell.
"I'll mix and match!”

“What is this?"
"It's a gastronomical representation of 'Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.'" Julie put her hands on her hips. "Don't you see it? The clear depiction of the struggle for sexual identity as evidenced by the two phallic shapes?"
Matt looked at her. "What are you talking about?"
"What are you talking about? It's manicotti, you nut. What do you think it is?”

Even though I guessed the "twist" pretty early on I still felt like I had been sucker punched when the reveal happened. Strangely though, I was more emotional for Julie than I was for anyone else impacted by it. I suppose that was largely because of all the lying that had taken place.

Surprising and delightful read!
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,843 reviews5,560 followers
January 3, 2015
**spoiler free review**


I did not expect for this book to so thoroughly blow my mind. Mind officially blown.


I feel like this review should be very witty because the book is so smartly written. It really took me by surprise. I've read so many insipid YA books that to read one that is written so carefully and so thoughtfully is like a shock to my system.

A quick plot summery: A girl (Julie) starts college in Boston but finds herself without a place to live, and ends up boarding with family friends of her mom whom she has never met. Still with me? The family consists of two absentee parents, both professors, a geeky brother (Matt) in his early 20s, an odd teenage sister (Celeste), and an even older brother (Finn) who has been traveling abroad for the past couple of years.

Celeste is socially awkward and, bizarrely, carries around a flat-lifesized cardboard cut out of Finn all the time. Julie ends up emailing and facebooking Finn to ask about Celeste's mental state and, over time, something more than online friendship ensues. But there are layers of mental health issues and entanglements that make their relationship increasingly complicated...

Oh how I love this book. I'm still dying over it and will probably babble to my husband the rest of the day about it. 2013 is so far a good book year!
Profile Image for Ariana.
936 reviews1,303 followers
May 11, 2020
Wait for me while i catch my breath..
(minutes passing, hours passing, days passing...)

Ok, here we go, but I don't promise that my review will make much sense to you.
So I'll start by saying that I really need to read this book again!

My Thoughts:
This book took me completely by surprise.
It seemed like a really light read, but in fact it is the complete opposite. I guess that these days I'm really easy to trick, but I love surprises, and I love how this story turned out.

Think about it this way:
Imagine that you are the main character – your name is Julie, you are cute, smart, beautiful, independent, funny, witty and you have a great sense of humor.
You are lost in a new city, alone, with no place to go.. Someone gives you a hand; she takes you to her place, in her family. She is your mother's best friend from college and she is really nice, even though she's quite absent from her children's life. She offers you shelter for as long as you need it and she takes care of you.
You like this family.

The father is nice, but he works just too much and travels for too long.

The boy (Matt) is a bit older than you, but cute, funny, and helpful. He is a bit of a geek, with no fashion sense and you feel the need to change this. He is spending too much time taking care of this family and you think that he needs more time for himself, his friends, even a girlfriend. You become friends, you talk a lot, you get to care for each other.
"I'm guessing by the suitcases that you must be Julie? Or else I'm about to kidnap the wrong girl"

Then there's little Celeste. Don't say that she's crazy, please don't offend her; she is an intelligent but (a bit) disturbed little girl. The way she talks, the way she acts, the way she holds around a flat copy of her oldest brother... All this is strange and you feel the need to help her. You become her friend, you teach her how to dress, how to act her age, how to enjoy her life. But you get involved too much, you cross the line trying to find what makes her like this, what's the secret they are all hiding.
Celeste looked back and forth between them and raised her eyebrows.
"Are you still mad at each other? Do you need to kiss and make up?"

The older brother (Finn) is quite absent, traveling all around the globe, trying to save the world. You talk to him via facebook (don't you dare rolling your eyes, I know that you keep in touch with friends and family via facebook as well. Pretending otherwise won't make it less true). You get to know him better and fall for him.
Again with the eye-rolling. What, you've never had a crush on a person that you didn't know? It even happened to me once, though I have an excuse, I was young and restless, LOL!
I "Facebook like" you, but I'm not IN "Facebook like" with you.

So back to Finn, he seems like the family's favorite, and sure enough Celeste's favorite. Since he went away she keeps a cardboard cutout of him everywhere she goes, and she misses him like crazy.
When you get a bit closer you ask him to come back, but he won't, still he sends you presents and photos and makes you feel like you’re special, makes you fall in love. Even though there are great guys waiting for you in real life, your heart keeps waiting for him.

But what if reality is different than dreams… what happens when reality catches up?
What if finding out someone’s secrets won’t make things better? What if it makes things worse?
And what If you get hurt? What if your heart breaks in a million pieces and you don’t know how to put them back together?
"But that's what love does to you. Gut-wrenching, overpowering, crushing, fulfilling, complex, bring-you-to-your-knees-love."

Well.. this is only the beginning, the rest is not my secret to tell.
I can only say this: if you go searching through other people's closets you will find your own skeletons in there.

Still, I really hope that you will enjoy this book as much as I did, and if by the middle you feel like it drags too much, keep going, it gets better… pinky promise ;))

This review can also be found at ReadingAfterMidnight.com

Blog (EN) | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Bloglovin' | Blog (RO)
Profile Image for Robin (Bridge Four).
1,588 reviews1,467 followers
December 20, 2017
Sale Alert for $1.99 on Amazon 20Dec17 here

Flat Out Love was Flat out Fun.

Sometimes you just need a book to relax with and have a good time. Something that you can just enjoy the feeling of the book and not have to think about it. This is that kind of story for me. There is enough quirkiness that I’m entertained but there is also just this feel good feeling to it overall that I enjoyed.

This book reminds me that there are New Adult books out there that are about the journey than just about some depressive situation with sex thrown in.

Julie has just made it to Boston to start her college life, accept nothing is working out quite right. The place she is supposed to be living doesn’t really exist. She has no apartment and needs a place to stay at least until she can figure out a new living situation. Thankfully her mom’s college roommate lives in Boston and agrees to help Julie out. She sends her son Matt to pick Julie up.
“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.”

Through a series of events Julie ends up deciding to stay with this family for the school year instead of finding a new place. I’m incredibly happy about this because even though I like Julie and her sense of humor the two/three characters I liked in the book were Matt, Celeste and Flat Finn.

Matt reminds me of my favorite Beta Boy ever Seth from the Georgina Kinkaid series. He has a collection of nerdy t-shirts, is a bit shy and incredibly smart, full of all kinds of information that while not incredibly useful I found really entertaining.
“At least I'm not a font nerd."
"A what?"
Matt smiled. "You know. People who love fonts. There are people who go to a movie and get agitated because, while the movie is supposed to be set in 1962, the restaurant awning shown in the background of some scene is printed in Arras Bold, which wasn't invented until 1991, so clearly the producers of the movie are insane and should be beheaded.”

I also found him to be incredibly sweet, protective and thoughtful of those around him even though he is a double Math/Physics major seriously bestill my beating heart.

Celeste was absolutely by far my favorite character in the book. She is so odd, incredibly odd and I loved it. She carries around a cardboard cutout of her brother everywhere and calls him Flat Finn. She treat him almost like he is a real person and while this is a little unsettling to Julie in the beginning she quickly learns how to play along with Celeste in this fantasy. Yes it seems odd and she is trying to figure out why Celeste has such an attachment to her older brother through a flat representation but no one is giving any answers.

I won’t really touch on anything else in the story as I might give away the big reveal and the ending to the story. I will just say that I liked it. Julie has an interesting first year at college and she really bonds with Celeste and is able to help her get over her attachment to Flat Finn a few baby steps at a time. Julie also finds a nice little romance along the way that became more interesting later in the book after the big reveal.

There was quite a bit of quirky humor and I thought the addition of the Facebook status updates from Matt Julie and Finn were freaking funny and adorable.
“Twitter is like Facebook’s slutty cousin. It does everything dumb and whore-ish you’re too responsible to do.”

Not everything is happy and there was a journey to be had but overall I enjoyed the humor and feel of the story.

Not sure I’ll read Flat out Matt since it is scenes rehashed from his PoV but I am interested in Flat Out Celeste since I thought she was the best character in this book.

Side note: I thought the audio was performed very well by Julia Whelan and I would happily listen to other audiobooks by her.
Profile Image for Whitney.
328 reviews110 followers
October 8, 2019
This is the forth book I have read from Jessica Park. It is safe to say that she is now on my favorite authors list. You can always count on her to sucker-punch you right in the feels. And you know that I'm all about that angst. She likes to take her readers on an emotional rollercoaster ride. She starts us at the very bottom so that the only other direction we can go is down. Trust me, your heart will plummet. Your stomach will drop. And tears may fall.

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.

Flat-Out Love is a heart wrenching ride. The main characters are so flawed, so broken. I connected with Julie so well that I actually became obsessed with the Watkins just like she was. I was determined to find out why Erin, the mother, was so emotionally-detached. I needed to know why Roger, the dad, was never home and always working. Why did Matt, the middle child, have to manage the household? Why did Celeste, the youngest, carry around a cardboard cutout of her older brother, Finn? Why was Finn traveling the world when it was obvious his family needed him? There were so many questions and I couldn't get the answers fast enough.

I felt so connected to Julie, like I mentioned earlier, that I too fell for Finn. You see, Julie adds Finn on Facebook to get answers. She really wants to help Celeste as she feels like her family is enabling her problems. Julie gets more than she bargains for as she ends up falling for the estranged brother. That's when Julie started to realize that there is something going on with Finn as well.

Julie is trying to save a family from destruction while putting herself in the line of fire. I admired the hell out her character. She is strong, determined, and caring. I love the relationship she has with Celeste. I loved how she managed Matt, how she loved Finn, and how she was honest with Erin. When Julie finally discovers the truth, I broke with her. You will never believe that twist at the end guys!

Good. I think I'm falling for you too. Let's not pull this chute.

I have read many reviews stating that they guessed the twist early on in the book. Well, I must be slow because I was blindsided. My theories were so far off that I couldn't believe what really happened. I think I had to read that part twice. I was probably in denial. My heart really broke for Julie.

I also seen many mixed reviews. But do you want to know what I have noticed? The bad reviews are the ones that didn't finish the book. You, the reader, will know absolutely nothing until the big reveal at the end. If you don't finish the book, you will never have that 'Aha' moment where everything gets put into perspective. Don't let those negative reviews turn you away. They are the ones that missed out on something great.

5 stars!
Profile Image for Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink.
258 reviews4,863 followers
March 22, 2017
Ugh. Honestly the book was pretty good but I just can't handle contemporaries (only rarely) and ESPECIALLY ones that deal with heartbreaking issues like these. I'm just dealing with too many issues in my own life with health/etc and I just can't handle books like these very well. They are too real/hit too close to home - where as fantasies are just easier for me to bear even when they have sad themes.

Ignore my rating, because I really don't know what to rate this. Maybe it hits somewhere on the 3.5-4 stars list but I just really don't know how to feel right now.

So that's my rant... don't read this if you're looking for a light, upbeat romantic comedy. It has it's quirky moments but it totally wasn't what I thought it was going to be. I guessed the major plot twist very early on and it was just so sad that I couldn't handle it. It just messed with me and made me super depressed. I went into this expecting something more 'fun' like 'The Hating Game' - and this is just down right depressing. Not bad, not poorly written, just sad - even if the ending was happy.

I want to go cry now. Bye.

My Blog ~ Instagram ~ Twitter ~ Etsy
Profile Image for Hannah G.
315 reviews18 followers
December 1, 2016
I'm rating this book 3.5 stars.I have mixed thoughts on this book. I liked the characters but only loved Celestes character. This book could be funny at times and was overall nice. I think the reason this book wasn't all there for me was because of the puppy type love. I personally don't prefer that type of romance. But It wasn't bad either. It was just okay. The chats that happened between "Finn"and Julie were a nice touch. But again I couldn't personally fall in love with someone on facebook. Julie's charater was the type of character trying to fix other people's problems because she hasn't fixed her own. Celestes character made this book a lot better than I would have been with out her. I loved her charater probably because she was really original. I did feel Celeste, Matt, "Finn", and Julie were all main characters. So Celeste wasn't a supporting character but a main one and although I liked that it was a bad thing to do In a romance book.
SPOILER ALERT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The ending I didn't like at all. Finding out that Finn was dead and Matt was the one writing chats to Julie under his dead brothers facebook. So basically Julie fell in love with Matt not Finn. I hated that but I guess The author get points for surprising twist.
February 6, 2021

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DNF @ 12%

This reads like some of the popular romance stories that were on Fictionpress when I was a kid and I think I probably would have enjoyed this more as an older teen than I did now. The biggest problem I had with it is, as others before me have complained about, the judgmental snarkiness of the heroine. I am one of the most judgmental, snarky people EVER and even I was like, "Oh my God, dial it down from thirty-six to six, Julie."

I thought the side characters were interesting and I actually enjoyed the Watkins family and some of the jokes were decent and the writing is a cut above what I typically expect from the new-adult self-published genre, but I just couldn't stand Julie as a heroine and I'm no longer finishing books I don't love. It just felt like this book was trying way too hard to be witty and ~different.~

1.5 to 2 stars
Profile Image for Abbi Glines.
Author 87 books85.4k followers
November 15, 2011
Great story. I would have probably enjoyed it more if I hadn't figured out the "twist" by chapter three. If you haven't read it then stay away from reviews. I read several reviews and because of that I just KNEW what was going to happen once Flat Finn made his appearance.
Profile Image for Samantha Young.
Author 116 books25.1k followers
November 9, 2011
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!

Profile Image for Leslie.
Author 10 books186 followers
September 13, 2012
WOW!! I cannot even begin to tell you how much I was captivated and enthralled by this story! The writing flowed realistically throughout with brilliant character development and the, OMG, knock-you-to-your-knees lovestory was undeniable!

When Julie realizes her "Craig's-List" apartment is really a burrito stand, she's desperate and as luck would have it, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, fortunately invites her to move in. It's close the her college and would be free! (What's not to love, right?) 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, but seriously lacking in social skills. The youngest, Celeste, is an incredibly bright but freakishly unusual 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

The oldest brother, Finn, who's funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive but physically unavailable, as he is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. (Which are mostly HILAIROUS and sometimes quite moving and sweet.) Before long, through late-night exchanges, Julie becomes aware that her feelings for Finn are beyond a friendly "IM-ing" chat sesson. But...something isn't "right" with this family and Julie evetually forces a buried secret to the surface, causing a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart...

This book is definitely one of my top 5 favorite books to date! I loved the dynamic of each character and their developing relationships...good and bad. This author took a chance at showing how fragile a family can become and how one person could change the head of demons into the face of tangible sorrow and ultimate forgiveness. A simply beautiful story!
Profile Image for Joana.
50 reviews7 followers
January 2, 2012
I found this book boring. Nothing really happened and the mystery (?) was way too obvious. The humor and witty dialogue were really forced, and all the characters had the same personality.

It's alright for a self-published book though. Just so boring.
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