Series Review: Flat-Out Love (1, 1.5 & 2) by Jessica Park

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.

I snatched up Flat-Out-Love purely due to cover love.  I was jonesing for a New Adult read and BAM this cover popped. I didn't realize just how symbolic the cover was until I finished reading and took another look at it. Cover praise is pretty impressive in and of itself.

Once I read the summary I knew it was something I would probably enjoy, I mean who doesn’t like to read someone else’s Facebook status updates for a good laugh (or self-esteem booster)! I quickly discovered that the funny wit was enough to keep me reading regardless of where the story would head.

Flat-Out-Love sees the Watkins family through the eyes of Julie Seagle, a brand new freshman transplant from Ohio. Julie has all the typical ideals of what her college experience will be like but quickly finds out that CRAP HAPPENS. In one day she finds that she is homeless in an unfamiliar city and alone. The events that transpire and the journey that Julie takes in love and life was epic! Julie was  fun, relate-able, quirky, smart(assy) and head strong. I really got her and the way she approached life and struggle.

I don't want to give any specific details to the storyline because I would hate to give away any detail that could potentially spoil the twists and turns.

A real enticement to power through these books was the wit! Julie, Fin, Matt and Celeste always seemed to get me! Each personality was so unique and different. Some of my favorite one-liners:

“If you can't stop thinking about someones update, that's called "status cling.”

“Then she did what any girl would do: she Googled him.”

“I put my pants on one leg at a time, just like everyone else. It's the way I take them OFF that makes me better than you.”

“I hope that someday they invent a car that runs on inappropriate thoughts”

I would have read this book just for the wit alone!

Companion: Flat-Out Matt is a companion to Flat Out Love. This is totally for the fans! You get a few chapters from Matt's POV plus the ending that we all wanted! #devilisinthedetails

For high-school senior Celeste Watkins, every day is a brutal test of bravery. And Celeste is scared. Alienated because she’s too smart, her speech too affected, her social skills too far outside the norm, she seems to have no choice but to retreat into isolation.
But college could set her free, right? If she can make it through this grueling senior year, then maybe. If she can just find that one person to throw her a lifeline, then maybe, just maybe.
Justin Milano, a college sophomore with his own set of quirks, could be that person to pull her from a world of solitude. To rescue her—that is, if she’ll let him. Together, they may work. Together, they may save each other. And together they may also save another couple—two people Celeste knows are absolutely, positively flat-out in love.
Whether you were charmed by Celeste in Flat-Out Love or are meeting her for the first time, this book is a joyous celebration of differences, about battling private wars that rage in our heads and in our hearts, and—very much so— this is a story about first love.

Celeste was such an interesting character in Flat-Out-Love but I didn't really appreciate her until I read Flat-Out-Celeste. I honestly wasn't in a hurry to read this one because I thought I was okay with where Matt and Julie were headed and wasn't really sure what Celeste had to offer as the lead character, but she was awesome! I ended up more invested in her story than Matt and Julie. Celeste was so Einstein-y and black & white but in a world with nothing but blurred lines. 

This story is about the inner strength and risks taken by Celeste but in some of the most ordinary situations. 
One boy can change everything.

You will enjoy Celeste's methodical thinking and speech because it is really interesting to follow and unlike anything I had ever read before. She really is an oddity in the most unexpected way, in thought and action alone. Another perk is that this story is about firsts- first love, first experiences, first decisions, and first heart break. We can all relate to our first heartbreak. #istillhatethatboy

There was an underlying theme that I think will resonate with society at this present time. Equality.
What defines a family? Does the "traditional" family still exist? Does it even matter? 
Who is your family?

By the conclusion of this series, I was tired! I felt like I had lived through all their trials and struggles but most notable was my goal to beef up my Facebook status updates- I left having severe STATUS CLING! >insert a handful of emoji< 

 I would recommend this series to fans of  both YA & NA plus all contemporary fiction lovers. And I have added another author to my ever growing "auto-buy" list.

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