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 spoon 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 travelling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, emails, 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.
Such a great summer read! Quick, extremely witty and mixes emails, facebook updates and the inner musing of the main character, Julie, to create a story that is delicate and compassionate.
‘Flat Out Love’ had a great pace and there was always something to captivate your attention, be it the mystery Julie was trying to uncover, hilarious one liners, or the awkward situations she found herself in the middle of. It’s a testament to rolling with the punches all the while keeping a sense of humour about you (because the alternative is to get stressed out – or even worse…)
Jessica Park is a pleasure to read, her style is uplifting even dealing with the darkest moments. I pretty much predicted the ending of the book after the first quarter, but it did not detract from the reading experience, because is was more about how the ending happened, not that it happened.
One of the best aspects of Park’s story is that she allowed the characters to unfold in their own time, letting the reader slowly get to know them – much like we do in real life. There was an issue I felt overlooked, in that Julie never questioned what was going on hard enough; but that has more to do with my bull-at-a-gate personality than the writing, and it was plausible, given that Julie was an introvert and not wanting to rock the boat with the tenuous atmosphere.
Matt and Finn are equally funny in their own particular styles, and found myself looking forward to status updates – they were sheer gold! It was hard not to fall in love with either. While their little sister Celeste was a hoot, again in her own way, much like the straight man in a television sit com, calling it like it is. She was intelligent and screaming out to be loved, there was no hope but instantly gravitating towards her adorableness.
‘Flat Out Love’ left me feeling great. A simple, brilliantly told story. There is much more depth to it than I first thought, Jessica Park really understands the psyche and her characters motivation. I’m adding the companion novel ‘Flat Out Matt’ to my reading list in hopes of more of Jessica-goodness. Highly recommend this for a light and fun read, or maybe as a break in between heavier novels.
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