I cannot give enough praise to Jessica Parks. She has once again, held me captive by her writing. She is a word weaver, a wizard, an enchantress.
I adored this book and am delighted that Parks has written another heartwarming, tender, romantic love story. But this is not just a romantic love story between a boy and a girl – although, that is beautifully written between the pages of this book – it is also a love story with one’s self and a study on the human spirit. We learn about growth, acceptance and understanding. Whereas in Flat-Out-Love, we learn to accept others for who they are, in FOC, we learn to love and accept the beauty within us.
’Trying to be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.’
Celeste is now 18-years-old and having an identity crisis. (Sounds like every teenager I know.) She is not only struggling with body image but also with the reality that she does not fit in with her peers. She’s a seemingly free spirit, who speaks what’s on her mind. It isn’t until people take a chance to get to know Celeste, that they learn she is a deeply caring, loving individual. She just doesn’t understand social norms and as such, expresses herself differently.
“I heard your presentation went well. Did your friends like it?”
“It went marvelously. My friend Dallas took me aside to offer quite the list of compliments.”
“That’s great, Celeste” Matt was downing half of her iced tea.
“And then I bitch-slapped her.”
Matt choked on the drink and desperately tried to clear his airway. “I’m sorry. You did what?”
She cocked her head. “I bitch-slapped her.”
“That… that can’t be right,” he sputtered. “I mean, I hope it’s not.”
“I slapped my hand against her hand. Up in the air.” She looked at Matt blankly. “Is that not the right term?”
“Thank God, no, it’s not. I think you mean a high five.”
But she longs for closeness with her peers, especially as she approaches college and will leave the safety of her home and family. Celeste believes her road to successful relationships is through reinventing herself, to change, to get rid of the ‘old Celeste’, and find a group within which she can fit. Her experiences were hilarious and her determination strong.
“I will not give up on reinventing myself, because reinvention is my way out, or my way in.”
It’s been a very long time since I have declared a book boyfriend. I cannot help feeling like Justin is the perfect one! His tenderness and quirkiness are so heart-warming and swoon-worthy that I am undeniably in book love with him.
He is a “recruiter” for Barton college in California. He was tasked with wooing Celeste to his school. He is equally awkward in his own way. I found it beautiful that he too had struggles, and was able to grow into himself, love who he was and enjoy his quirks while realizing that his differences weren’t wrong, just different. It was the people who demeaned him that were wrong. He came into her life, and turned her world upside down!
“…he got down on one knee and swept his hand from one side to the other. “Bye.”
Because she was unable to think clearly, and because she was not in control of her body, she took a step back and recreated her formal curtsy. “Bye.”
He challenged her views of herself, of her “normalcy”. Celeste isn’t awkward around Justin. He appreciates her nuances and with that validity comes self-confidence for Celeste. This is a reciprocal relationship. She too offers Justin what he needs, a sense of calm. Together, they center one another.
“I have social difficulties. I do not always read situations properly. Or more correctly, I do not always read people properly.”
“Maybe people don’t read you properly.”
He became her protector, both of her security, and of her true self. She felt safe with him and watching her transformation into a confident, young woman was beautiful.
“You’re a lifesaver, Celeste.”
”No, you are my lifesaver, Justin.”
While reading this series, I listened to Sam Smith’s “In The Lonely Hour” album. One song stood out above the rest, which I think represented Celeste and Justin perfectly! “Make It To Me”
“You’re the one designed for me.
A distant stranger that I will complete,
I know you’re out there we’re meant to be
so keep your head up and make it to me.
Make it to me.”
One of my favorite series for 2014, I recommend this to everyone, young or old-er (like me). This will truly pull at your heartstrings. I laughed and I cried, all the while soaking in all the beautiful that is Celeste’s family and friends.
Flat-Out Matt (Flat-Out Love #1.5) || I rated this 5 stars