February and Flat-Out Love

February has been a pretty scarce month for me as far as reviews. I promise to make up for it.

First of all, in one of my last posts I mentioned the crazy reading list I had for college. I made it through them all, thankfully, but only have more to add now (of course!) This week I’ll be reading Three Kingdoms, which is a historical novel from China. I also hopefully will be posting on here soon about North and South, which I recently read and LOVED for British Lit.

But anyways! So I’m home on break this week and I had the fantastic opportunity to take a Young Adult writing class at the Loft. The two teachers (Laura Bradley Rede and Carrie Mesrobian) sent us away with a reading list of about sixty books, so I definitely have my work cut out for me! It was pretty amusing actually – we went around in a circle and talked about our own ideas at one point and then they “prescribed” books for us to read and learn from. Really great.

I just read Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park and absolutely loved it. I devoured the book in about two days on my NOOK. The main character, Julie, has just moved from Ohio to Boston for her freshman year of college, and finds herself without a place to live. Luckily, her mom’s college roommate lives in Boston, and she moves in with the family. Julie fits right in and loves the quirky family, down to the 13-year old girl Celeste who carries around a cardboard cutout of her oldest brother, Finn, who is apparently away travelling the world. Julie gets along with Matt when she’s not poking fun at his nerdy choice of t-shirts (his favorite is one that self-proclaims “Geek”) and starts to feel at home with her new family.

However, underneath, the family is far from normal. The parents are strangely absent and Matt is left to care for Celeste, which eliminates any chance at a normal college experience for him at MIT. Celeste is on the verge of being kicked out of her advanced school for lacking social skills, and Finn sends emails and Facebook messages to Julie offering cryptic advice. On top of all of this is a surprising love story that develops.

Julie, of course, decides to take this all on and help the family connect, despite her lack of knowledge about what makes them all so estranged from each other. She cares about them all deeply and feels embedded in their lives. She begins to change things and draws them all closer together. I won’t give anything away, but the last few chapters of the book would not let me leave because the outcome is so unexpected.

My favorite thing about this book is that Park has created such a believable narrator. Julie is so real – she ends up being parts of you, parts of your best friend, even parts of the girl you can’t stand sometimes. She’s funny and clueless in love, but has compassion and a drive to do what’s right. Any girl can relate to her. I wish there was more to the story, because I was really sad to leave Julie behind in the pages. I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes stories about young adults, adjusting to college, romance, or family dramas.

On a related side note, the website for the book is http://flatoutlove.blogspot.com/. The author is working on an app for the book, which blows my mind. All of the Facebook status updates and messages, songs, and video content, will be transferred into some crazy cool interactive experience that will totally suck you into the book. It took me long enough to come around to the idea of an e-book…and now there are interactive apps of books! I wonder what will be next.

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