Monday, July 28, 2014

Life Less Ordinary - My Review of FLAT-OUT CELESTE by Jessica Park

Title: Flat-Out Celeste (Flat-Out Love #2)
Author: Jessica Park
Date: 5/22/2014
Source: Purchased for Kindle

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.

Whether you were charmed by Celeste in Flat-Out Love or are meeting her for the first time, this book is a joyous celebration of differences, about battling private wars that rage in our heads and in our hearts, and—very much so— this is a story about first love

Jessica Park is the author of the young adult novels FLAT-OUT LOVE and RELATIVELY FAMOUS; five Gourmet Girl mysteries (written as Jessica Conant-Park with her mother, mystery author Susan Conant); and the e-shorts FACEBOOKING RICK SPRINGFIELD and WHAT THE KID SAYS (Parts 1 & 2).

Jessica grew up in the Boston area and attended Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota. After spending four years in the frigid north, including suffering through one memorable Halloween blizzard, Jessica hightailed it back to the east coast. She now lives in (relatively balmy) New Hampshire with her husband, son, bananas dog named Fritzy, and two selfish cats. When not writing, Jessica indulges her healthy addictions to Facebook, Rick Springfield, and super-sweet coffee beverages.

FLAT-OUT CELESTE is book #2 of the FLAT-OUT LOVE series.  You don't have to read book 1 to enjoy this one, but I strongly recommend it.  First of all, book 1 is amazing and just about the sweetest and dorkiest book you've ever read.  Among the sweet dorkiness, is a fantastic story about love; love parents have for their children, love siblings have for each other, and love shared with strangers who help pull a family through one of the darkest times they have ever faced.  Julie and Matt both make an appearance in book 2 and the significance of their words and actions may be lost without having first read about them in FLAT-OUT LOVE.

And now, I'm going to write this review as if you have read book #1.  If you have not, beware.  Spoilers may follow.

Celeste Watkins is not like other girls her age.  She enjoys hours spent creating the perfect presentation for her debate class.  She tends to talk as if she was from another time and possibly English is really her second language.  And also, Celeste notices that she even moves with a stiff formality that tends to encourage her peers to stare at her with confusion.  While Celeste has often wondered if she possibly has something that could be diagnose-able, she has avoided any such research and even self-diagnosis.  She has her family convinced that she has friends at school and they love and accept her and all of her quirks.  The trouble is, Celeste doesn't quite accept herself.

Celeste has always leaned on her brother for strength.  Now that she is a senior and facing college, Celeste decides to stop relying on Matt as much and begins to accept the help and friendship from a few people at school.

Justin Milano is a college recruiter from a school that seems to be working overtime to have Celeste join their ranks.  Unfortunately, it is not an Ivy League school, or any of the other schools that fit into Celeste's plans for her future.

Justin is friendly and sweet and just so accepting of Celeste and her personal demons.  His strength and confidence is inspiring; to Celeste, certainly, but also to the reader.

As Celeste and Justin find more reasons to communicate, either in person or through electronic means, their quirks become even more evident and they fall for each other a little more through each new revelation.

Celeste's determination and will to succeed is amazing and I congratulate the author for the way she handled a sensitive subject in such a sweet and affirming manner.

As I said, Matt and Julie are in this book again, and they are facing major difficulties.  I think it is perfect that Celeste gets to help Matt and Julie find a resolution to the struggles they are facing.

There, I hope I said enough to encourage you to pick this one up without spoiling anything.  It really is a spectacular series and you will be missing out if you don't read it.

5 Out of 5 Stars

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