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Flat-Out Love is one of the best e-books I’ve ever read. Naturally, when the companion novella Flat-Out Matt debuted a year later, I had to buy it too. I loved it just as much. A few months ago, I purchased the sequel, Flat-Out Celeste, which I just finished reading a few days ago. I don’t know how it’s possible, but Flat-Out Celeste might actually be my favorite of the three.
How exactly do I find the right words to review these books?
Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park is a genre-defying book that left me an emotional wreck, desperate to run to Dan and stay in his arms forever. At times I was laughing uproariously at the witty dialogue, so reminiscent of the nerdy conversations Dan and I have. A chapter later, I’d discover tears streaming down my face. It was seriously SO brilliant.
The novel follows Julie Seagle’s freshman year of college. Her first challenge? Finding somewhere to live when she gets screwed over via Craig’s List. Enter the Watkins family, nice enough to put her up… But very eccentric. Something is very… off in this family, and Julie struggles to uncover the cause of their strange behavior.
It’s hard to describe without giving so much away. But I will add that Matt Watkins, the older MIT student, is SO much like Dan that he was my favorite character almost immediately. For example, part of Matt’s characterization is his love of very nerdy t-shirts. My husband owns quite a few of those himself!
I will also say that an awesome plot twist emerges. I did predict it, but only a chapter or two in advance. It’s mind-blowing. In full disclosure, when my best friend Jessica read this at my recommendation, she predicted the plot twist very quickly. So YMMV.
Reviewing Flat-Out Matt is even more difficult without giving away spoilers. It retells the events of Flat-Out Love, but from Matt’s POV. A warning to the wise: Do NOT read these books out-of-order. Yes, Flat-Out Matt is a companion novel and not a sequel, but it contains major spoilers for Flat-Out Love.
As with the first one, this book had me laughing one minute and crying the next. Even when knowing how the plot would play out, I was still completely wrapped up in the characters and their interactions. I just couldn’t help but care so much about this family and Julie.
My only criticism of the book was the teeny tiny undercurrent of sexism and slut-shaming. Matt holds some hypocritical views regarding sex. I know those views stem from jealousy, but that doesn’t stop them from being sexist and wrong.
I could probably compare Flat-Out Celeste better to the first two novels if I had reread them recently. But I have not. Alas. Flat-Out Celeste takes place about five years after Flat-Out Love/Flat-Out Matt.
Celeste is now a senior in high school, and her awkwardness leaves her isolated. She feels unable to relate to her peers, but she tries to reassure herself that college will be different. She just has to decide which Ivy League school to attend, and she’s leaning towards Harvard or Yale so she won’t be too far from home.
Except a school out in California is wooing her via the charismatic and disjointed efforts of sophomore Justin Milano.
Flat-Out Celeste is about two people learning to accept their own quirks while having love and patience for the differences in other people.
I laughed. I cried. My heart broke, but I picked up the pieces and put them together again.
Have you read any of the Flat-Out books? What did you think?