KarenH's Reviews > Flat-Out Love

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park
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Why didn't I know about this book? I mean, I've seen it on occasion when searching through the Kindle books at Amazon, but I don't recall seeing a review here on GR nor have I noticed it being discussed in a thread. O M G why not??!?

Julie Seagle has just moved from Ohio to Boston to begin her freshman year at Whitney College, only to find the "apartment" she had procured online (and paid 1st and last months rent) was a burrito stand! Fortunately, Julie's homeless situation was short-lived, as her mother was able to reach an old college friend living in the area who seemed genuinely happy to have Julie come stay with her family. And so began a year-long journey that was about to change Julie's life forever.

It didn't take long for Julie to realize that the Watkins family was the real-life version of Modern Family - completely dysfunctional but totally ignorant of the fact. Both parents were professionals who showed little compassion for their 3 children, and seemed to be content with being away from home most of the time. Their son, Matt, was a 21-year old college student and extreme techie geek who Julie forged a somewhat tentative friendship with. Their son, Finn, 23, was the free spirit of the group who was off to explore parts unknown and whose bedroom Julie was now "borrowing". Finally, there was the 14 yr-old daughter Celeste, who could only be described as "interesting". Oh yeah...there was one other painfully obvious member of the Watkins family (he sat at the table, he rode in the car)...Flat Finn.

FF (Julie's unappreciated nickname for Flat Finn) was a life-size cardboard cutout of the real Finn that Celeste carried with her wherever she went. While Matt had always had his nose in a book and the parents were busy with their careers, Finn was the fun-loving, carefree brother that always had time for Celeste when she was growing up. Now that Finn was out of school and away from home doing volunteer work in remote, foreign places, Celeste was lonely and missed him terribly... thereby prompting her to order his cardboard twin online.

Julie didn’t particularly care about Flat Finn’s presence. If everyone wanted to act as though it was perfectly ordinary to hang out with a flat, replicated family member, it was fine by her. After all, he was polite, not at all bad to look at, and didn’t hog more than his fair share of the Thai dumplings. Granted, his conversational skills were lacking, but he was probably just shy around new people…

Julie was cool with FF because she knew it was Celeste's way to keep Finn close and the loneliness at bay. however, she was not cool with the fact that nobody seemed to realize and/or care that Celeste was NOT a normal teenager. She did not interact with other kids, she dressed like a 6-year old; and, what infuriated Julie the most was that Celeste never used contractions when she spoke. Frustrated with the lip-zipped family members, Julie sought Finn out on Facebook. Delighted when she found both him and Matt, she sent each brother a friend request.

Facebook Status:

Matthew Watkins My visit to the O.K. Corral was… well…

Finn is God I “Facebook like” you, but I’m not IN “Facebook like” with you.

Julie Seagle Going to write a book called, “Binge, Screw, Loathe.” It will be about a hateful woman who travels across the U.S. visiting all-you-can-eat brothels.

It didn't take Julie long to completely understand why Celeste missed her oldest brother so much. Finn was witty and charming, understanding, compassionate and genuinely concerned about his baby sister. And, judging by the pictures he posted to Julie, as well as her interacting daily with his cardboard twin, Finn was - by all serious female standards - a total HOTTIE! As time progressed, the casual email correspondence Finn and Julie shared evolved into a personal Facebook chat where they conversed daily for hours. Finn would be home in the summer and Julie couldn't wait to finally meet and touch and kiss the guy she had fallen head over heels in love with.

For all the humor involving Flat Finn and the sweetness of Julie helping Celeste become a normal teenage girl, there is an essential element to this story that is very sad. I caught a glimpse of it coming but I stayed in denial until that was no longer an option. Then I started to cry.

As in buckets.

I...who never used to cry (before discovering indie authors)...was sobbing miserably. I do understand, however, that it was key to the plot and I love this author for pulling it off so beautifully. It also paved the way for a very happy ending!

Thank you, Jessica Park, for writing such a sweet yet poignant,touching story. I loved it and I'm in love with it! I loved how thoughtful and expressive Finn was and how he totally "got" the uniqueness that was Julie. I loved how the chapters began with the trio's Facebook status. I loved Julie's determination to make Celeste happy, even going so far as to put hinges on Flat Finn so he could sit comfortably! And I loved the Watkins brothers and their individual relationships with Julie. When it was over and I was reflecting back on the story, I came to the conclusion that, although extremely understated, Julia ended up with one of the best contemporary romance novel guys ever!

If you love college-age romances with happy endings, and can handle a scene guaranteed to make you cry (not just sniffle), then I recommend this book to you. Seriously, Flat-Out Love is a gem!

5 stars!
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Reading Progress

50.0% "Even better as an audiobook!"

Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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Lisa Loved your review! I really liked this one too! I lent my Kindle version to Taryn. Surprised I never mentioned this book to you, but glad you read it now!

message 2: by KatLynne (last edited May 30, 2012 07:11AM) (new) - added it

KatLynne Wow Karen, what a fantastic review! I've had this on my mtn but after reading your review, I need to get to this soon!

Just checked and it's on my Kindle:) Elizabeth had recd this to me and I forgot about it:(

Anne OK Wonderful review, Karen! You are so correct -- this one is a little gem!

Brit Great review. This one got me as well.

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