I liked this book a lot. I am actually hunting down New Adult books that could *maybe* make me swoon more and cringe less but I haven’t found a single one aside from Easy, and that was from a year ago. And then this book came along, and although Julie and Matt’s love story wasn’t as breathtaking for me as Jacqueline and Lucas’ was, this cute little novel still made me smile and giggle and even shriek a few times.
Julie was a fairly likeable character; she’s nice and smart, she’s not a whiner or a complainer, she was reasonable for the most part, and she was brilliant at handling Celeste. But she was not without flaws and I actually have a few issues with her, specifically a.) she complained at the beginning of the novel that her friends don’t understand her love of studying and that if she ever tells them how much she likes to learn, they would make fun of her. But then she went and criticized – even made fun of – Matt’s preference for geeky t-shirts and asked him many times to stop wearing them. I don’t know about you, but it seems to me that Julie just became one of the people she was complaining about. And b.) I get that Julie was a fixer and she wanted to fix Celeste and the whole Watkins Family, but there were times when she was so overbearing that I wondered why on earth was Matt still putting up with her. It was painful to read those parts of the story, and maybe this is just me because I hate it when people stick their hands in my business, but if I were Matt or Erin, I would’ve told Julie off a long time ago. Subtlety’s probably not Jessica Park’s style, but I wish she wrote those scenes in a way that made me like Julie more, not less.
Matt was an adorable character. I felt his burden and hardships as I read, and he didn’t even have to say them out loud. Jessica Park did a great job with his character and she weaved his struggles into the plot seamlessly. Also, the geeky shirts are sexy, Matt! Don’t listen to Julie!!! Yes, I just had to put that out there. But let’s move on to Matt’s brother, Finn. I guess I get why Julie would fall for him and why it took her so long to see the truth behind him. Even I couldn’t be sure about what to make of him for 70% of the novel because Park’s writing style leaves so many room for surprises (a good thing). I was glad when I turned out to be right, but oh holy fudgebuckets. That’s all I’m going to say.
Now let’s talk about Celeste, my most favorite character in the whole freaking book. My heart went out to Celeste many, many times. I loved her and pitied her but mostly I just wish I could adopt her and shower her with hugs and kisses. Celeste was the heart of this book, and yes I was very interested with the love story as well, but Celeste’s evolution is 70% of the reason why I couldn’t put this book down. I thought that Jessica Park handled Celeste and her unique case brilliantly, and she’s just been added to the list of my most adorable fictional (sadly) children.
Writing-wise, Flat-out Love could do with a bit more polishing, but Jessica Park did a really good job at sequencing scenes and transitioning them. Some characters felt so flat they were as good as non-existent (Jamie, Dana) but the main characters were solidly built and multi-faceted. The romance was sweet and heart-warming and Park was good to avoid some clichéd reactions that I was expecting. Since this book was NA, I was expecting to feel some of that college-vibe that I loved from Easy, but it was noticeably weak in this novel. It was still a good story, though. Better than most NA’s out there for sure.
If you are a romance and/or contemporary aficionado or if you’re just like me who hasn’t given up yet in finding treasures out of the notoriously avoided New Adult genre, I urge you to try and read Flat-Out Love. It’s a sweet and heartening story of love and healing and second chances. Jessica Park is an author to watch out for, and I will most definitely read her other works from here on out. 3 and 1/2 coconuts!