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.
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.
(Approximately 87,000 words.)
WIN! WIN! WIN!
I am positively in love with every single one of the characters in FLAT OUT LOVE. Brace, yourselves! I feel an onslaught of gushing coming! About to start a new stage in her life, Julie is quite shocked when her apartment fails to materialize. From the very first page, I knew I was going to like her story. That phone call to her mother alone had me laughing! When her mother reconnects with a college buddy to set things straight, the future seemed to be looking up for our girl. Only, she ends up with the Watkin's, who are so out of the box that I really don't know where to start.
What’s funny is I have an image of all them in my head, based what they did and how they acted but not necessarily on how how they looked. Celeste with her unusually developed vocabulary has me thinking of that robot from that old show Small Wonder. Matt with his quirky statement shirts and monster sized brain has me thinking of Big Bang’s Sheldon, only hotter… and a bit more well-rounded (well, sort of). And Julie is a little of Mary Poppins only younger with a tendency to lose her filter when drunk.
Julie finding a place among them was a revelation because while you'd think she'd be after what any fresh graduate would want (freedom!)... she's content with being plopped right in the middle of some family drama- a family drama that she knew nothing of, but had to tip toe around nonetheless. Yes, Family. Drama. (or was it family dysfunction?) How else could I describe a teen girl with a cardboard cutout of her eldest brother for a security blanket? How else could I describe another brother who's super smart, super protective but seemed to have no life outside his family? Yet, I loved every moment of them (even, that cliff jumping moment with Julie... I'd read that already!)
I confess, like Julie, I fell a little in love with Finn. That said, I still enjoyed how her relationship with Seth went along. But what I found particularly refreshing is how things ended with Seth he is not made into the bad one. But that's just one thing I liked because a great deal of this is smart and witty, and had me laughing a whole lot. But once things were out, I found myself crying, no sobbing like a dumb ass. This is more than just new people getting to know each other, more than quirky out of the box characters. Behind all that was a reason why they were the way they were. It’s a sad reason too. And just a bit as insane as Matt described it to be…
FLAT OUT LOVE is a DEFINITE FAVORITE and I need an actual copy of this book!