Flat-out Love by Jessica Park

I saw my friend Flannery of The Readventurer reading Flat-out Love on Goodreads and I was intrigued by the premise. I asked her what she thought of the first few chapters and this is what she said, “I’m liking it a ton. If it keeps up like this, I will be reccing it to all of you. It’s contemporary YA with a sense of humor.” So I’m glad author Jessica Park gave me an electronic copy for review and I read the book as soon as I could.

Here’s the summary from the book’s official site:

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.

The cover is an original artwork by Robyn Hyzy and I think it looks great, all bright and happy. I was hoping that the cover would reflect the contents of the book and I wasn’t disappointed. It was so easy to read Flat-out Love because there’s enough banter between the characters to keep things funny. I read this on my Kindle and there were several hilarious scenes that left me smiling, I’m sure the people around me found it weird that I was amused by a reading device. I really liked that the main character, Julie, is in college because we really need more New Adult or older YA books. I could definitely relate to Julie and everything that she felt about college – how she was excited to start learning new things, how she looked forward to meeting like-minded people and how she was just generally happy about the whole experience. I loved my college years and I felt the same way Julie did. Aside from that, Julie is also deathly afraid of heights and I have the same fear! Well, I don’t have it as bad as Julie does. And I’ve always wanted to try skydiving. I’m jealous of my friends who have tried jumping out of a plane to free fall. The way skydiving was described in this book strengthened my resolve to give it a try, not in the Philippines though because I have a feeling the equipment here won’t be as trusty as what’s available in other countries.

I admit I guessed the family secret way before it was revealed but that doesn’t mean I didn’t savor the build-up. As Julie got to know the whole family – Erin and Roger, Finn, Matt and Celeste – I felt like there were enough clues in there to understand what happened to make them so unusual. I really enjoyed seeing Julie develop friendships with the siblings – from her online flirtations with Finn, her day-to-day hang out and study sessions with Matt to her tentative efforts to reach out to Celeste so the little girl can come out of her shell. I think these were the relationships that brought the novel to life. And the romance? It took time to form and is the opposite of instant love. I’m totally on board that kind of romance and character development. I also loved that social networking was such a big part of the novel, there were Facebook status messages all throughout the novel and Julie and Finn chatted on Facebook all the time. What I didn’t understand though was why Julie hated Twitter. Oy Julie, Twitter is awesome, it lets me communicate with fellow book bloggers AND authors. AUTHORS! Who are rock stars in my world. I highly recommend this one to readers looking for older than usual contemporary YA characters.

Celeste carries around a cardboard cutout of her oldest brother and calls it Flat Finn. Like I mentioned, I only read an ebook version of this book and I didn’t have an actual copy. So I thought it would be a good idea to create a Flat Flat-out Love (FoL). Check out the pictures:

Flat FoL with other contemporary reads, YA on the left and adult on the right.

A nod to the painted design of the cover.

Flat FoL with Facebook as its background.

Other reviews:
The Reading Date
Book Labyrinth
A Book and a Latte

21 thoughts on “Flat-out Love by Jessica Park

  1. Awesome review! So glad you enjoyed this book. It put a smile on my face too. I like the term New Adult and agree there is a lot of opportunity for this category. I’ll have to check out that Goodreads list you linked to.
    And I love your Flat FoL! Very creative and in keeping with the spirit of the story 🙂

    • Lucy, I’m glad I’m not the only one that found this book funny! I found out about New Adult recently and I’ve been wanting to read more books that fall under that category, which is why I created the Goodreads list. Feel free to add other titles in the list. 🙂

      I was actually laughing at myself while taking Flat FoL pictures but I couldn’t resist doing it. 😛

    • Brandy, like I said in my reply to Sabrina, you can probably request a review copy from the author. 🙂 I’d be interested to see what you think of this one and I’m hoping that you’ll like it as much as I did.

  2. Thank you so much for the review! I love this age so much, and I’m about to start writing a book about college-age characters. Publishing houses insist that there is no market for this, which I think is insane!

    • Hey Jessica, thanks for dropping by to comment here! Saw your comments on my Facebook page as well. 🙂 Yay, you’re writing another book set in college, that’s good news. Keep us posted on when you’re going to release that. It’s weird that publishers aren’t more aware that there really is a market for books like this. But then again, YA only started becoming popular in the last few years.

    • Yep, social media in books is fun, especially for people like us because we’re online most of the time. 😛 LOL I just printed out the Flat FoL but I did think about painting the cover, maybe on my next painting session.

    • Chris, like I told the others, you can request a review copy from the author if you’re planning to read it. And yes to reading more New Adult titles. I love that category. 🙂

  3. oh this whole review is so awesome.

    I LOVE that you made a flat copy, haha, too awesome. and the books you posed it with are some of my faves ❤

    also, you wrote an awesome review for this 🙂

    • I’m glad you find the Flat FoL hilarious, Nomes. 🙂 I just thought of doing it right before I posted my review.

      Don’t you just love that contemporary pile? It includes some of my favorites as well. If I had an actual copy of Saving June, that would have been included.

  4. Lol, love this entire review, including Flat FoL! Do paint it sometime! Obviously I’m very behind in my Google reader but I’m so glad I went back to read this review and all the comments. I think I may need to request a review copy if both you and Flannery enjoyed it.

    • Yay Holly, I’m glad you decided to read the posts in your Google Reader and that my review managed to convince you to check out this title. I hope you get to read it because I’d love to know if you’ll like this one just as much as I did (but it’s totally okay if you don’t).

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