Even though this goes against my normal reviewing norms, I have to say that I flat-out LOVED this book. Yea, cheesy I know, but it’s true. Like the books I’ve read from Park in the past, this one has also blown me away. I read Flat-Out Love, and it’s companion Flat-Out Matt last year as an introduction to Park’s work. Those two books, to this day, have stuck with me for their characters, story, and more.
When I first heard that Jessica Park was taking one of my favorite characters from FOL and giving that character her own book…I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. Celeste, Matt’s sister, was a big reason why I enjoyed the other books. She, like the rest of the Watkin’s family, went through major trauma and developed some issues from that. In FOL we see her in her early teens, and while we sympathize with her, we don’t get her POV really.
Now, in Flat-Out Celeste, Celeste is a senior in high school. She also still has major anxiety in social situations, no friends, and the pressure of trying to be as “normal” as she can be. It’s not easy, though we can see early on that she’s changed since we first met her. Her peculiarities (and the fact that she still doesn’t use contractions often, if at all) made her easy to sympathize with, while not being one to pity. Park created Celeste to be an oddball, but she’s more than that. I think readers can see themselves to an extent in the character. No one’s perfect. Many people have some thing that causes anxiety, especially in social situations. Following along with Celeste as she deals with a first love and the pressure of choosing a college brought it all home in a way. Even though she might exhibit her quirks in an extreme way, I felt I could relate to much of what she was feeling and much of what was going through her mind.
Justin Milano was also a great character. In many ways he was the opposite of Celeste, while having his own quirks. I found the chemistry between them perfect, and that alone would have made a great story. We also get to enjoy Matt, with his great collection of geeky shirts, and some other secondary characters new and old.
If I continue, I run the risk of either fan-girling too much or spoiling the book, or both. Fans of Flat-Out Love are likely to love this book, as well. Even new readers could pick this one up and enjoy it, but for the full effect, I’d recommend reading FOL first. I loved seeing Celeste’s character grow. I think it has a great romance element, but there’s an even more important message about fitting in and being comfortable with who you are that I think Park presented in an expert way through her out of the ordinary characters. FOC is already one of my favorite books of the year and will be tough to top.
Flat-Out Celeste is set to release later this month. You still have time to check out some other flat-out amazing books from Park!
You can purchase Flat-Out Celeste from:
Flat-Out Love (#1)
Flat-Out Matt (#1.5, companion to be read after FOL)
and Left Drowning, one of my favorite books from 2013 (not in the Flat-Out series)
About the Author:
Jessica is the author of LEFT DROWNING, the New York Times bestselling FLAT-OUT LOVE (and the companion piece FLAT-OUT MATT), and RELATIVELY FAMOUS. She lives in New Hampshire where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.
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