August 6, 2014

Latest Read: Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

Flat-Out Celeste (Flat-Out Love, #2) by Jessica Park
Publication date: May 22, 2014
Publisher: CreateSpace
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Purchased
Summary: 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. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The Good
Celeste is all grown up! I read Flat-Out Love two years ago and I loved it. I loved Julie’s voice as a main character, her growing relationship with Matt and what each of them meant to his younger sister Celeste. I never expected a chance to reunite with these characters and if we did, I would’ve assumed a continuation of Matt and Julie’s story. But it makes so much sense to tell Celeste’s instead. Even in Flat-Out Love, Celeste was vital to the book and a big part of why I loved it so much. She’s genius-level smart but socially awkward to the point where you (and even she) wonders if she has a touch of Asperger’s. At the end the last book, Julie expresses her hope that Celeste never loses her Celeste-ness and I found myself with that exact same thought as I began reading this book.

Flash-forward four years later and Celeste Watkins is now a senior in high school. She’s ten times smarter than her classmates and flourishing academically. She’s going to get into every college she applies to and she knows it. But socially? Less flourishing, more floundering. She’s beautiful and smart but can’t seem to find a way to connect or interact with her classmates. But she doesn’t let her parents (who are doing so much better now) or Matt know about her loneliness. Then she “meets” Justin Milano over e-mail. He’s a student at a college Celeste’s professor thinks would be good for her and Justin reaches out to her. To invite her to social functions about the college but the emails quickly spiral into something more personal. He’s got a quirky personality himself and they click. But while I enjoyed the randomness of their emails, it was when they meet in person that I fully appreciated their connection. Here are these two not-so-typical people with idiosyncrasies no one else gets but they get each other and accept each other for exactly who they are. That stood out to me more than anything as I read.

But it’s not just a love story. It’s really about Celeste coming into her own and accepting herself. Throughout the book, she starts to open up. To Justin, to the possibility of friends. It’s a long and emotionally difficult journey for her but I rooted for Celeste the entire way. Also - I have to mention that there’s a tiny sub-plot with Matt and Julie that made my totally sappy heart melt.

(Super minor) reservations
I loved how the whole story played out. Some of it felt overly-romanticized (are there really guys as wonderful as Justin out there?!) but that was probably my only reservation. Oh and I wouldn’t have minded more Julie and Matt.

Do I recommend?
Yes! I’m a big fan of these two books and I highly recommend reading them both!

Happy reading!

2 comments:

  1. i've never heard of these books before but thank you for sharing them. i love young adult and contemporary and the series sounds amazing - great review!
    amelia from wonder reads

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  2. I still haven't read these books, even though both you and Mel raved about Flat-Out Love. I'm also a big sucker for books that focus on characters and their relationships with other people, and it definitely sounds like this is one of them.

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