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Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park


  Flat-Out Love
Jessica Park
ebook Date: April 2011
Date:  July 27, 2011
self-published, CreateSpace
400 pages
ISBN-10: 1461085977
ISBN-13: 978-1461085973
Lexile : 730L based on a small text sample


Book Overview:

Flat-Out Love is the story of the Watkins family, a seriously over-achieving family from Boston, and how everything changes from the day they meet and take in Julie Seagle.  Julie is the freshman daughter of Mrs. Watkins’s old college roommate. Julie has big plans for her first year away from her Ohio hometown, but they don’t include being without a place to stay.  Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what you plan, and Julie must adjust to her new set of circumstances as a permanent house guest. Soon, she’s an integral part of the family.  But, something’s not right with the Watkins family; there’s some mystery here that Julie must figure out, and her future happiness depends on doing the right thing without doing any harm.

Ms. Park self-published this book as an eBook, and now, it’s available in paperback.

Positive Content:

Julie provides the key to solving some deep-rooted, very serious problems in her adoptive family.  She is a warm, caring, intelligent young adult with all the hopes and dreams of a first-year college student leaving home for the first time.  The Watkins family members, in their turn, are charming, complicated, and hard to figure out.  Julie discovers that the family has been through some sort of trauma that they simply can’t or won’t discuss, and that is the mystery of the book.  Ms. Park has created: a marvelous cast, a heart-stopping romance, a tantalizing puzzle, and a story that will make you laugh out loud, get angry, and cry into your Kleenex. That emotional response is the result of excellent story-telling.

I will try VERY hard not to give away the key to the story or the ending of the book in the next section.  This is the rare book where you don’t see what’s right in front of you until near the end (Don’t you dare skip to the last page!), and when I finished it, I really wanted to reread it immediately.

Content to Consider: (Spoilers)


Violence:  NONE

Crude, Vulgar, or Profane Language: FREQUENT

  • Hell is used 34 times. (Thanks, Kindle.)
  • D— is used 22 times.
  • Ass, and its variations, appears several times.
  • Mary is profaned once.
  • “Finn is God” is an identity on Facebook used throughout the book.
  • God and Christ get mentioned many times but never in a reverent way.
  • The f-word is alluded to once in short hand.

Sexual Content:  HEAVY BREATHING

  • One student is suspected by another of being homosexual.  The person who believes this keeps her suspicions to herself.
  • There are plenty of sexual references throughout the book.
  • There is one heavy breathing session described in the book.  A few other occurrences are implied.
  • One of Julie’s friends is sexually active.
  • Julie seriously considers losing her virginity with a guy she doesn’t love.
  • Julie discusses sex with a man while she is under the influence of alcohol.

Drug/Alcohol: INFREQUENT

  • Mrs. Watkins is on anti-depressants and under the care of a physician.
  • There are several mentions of keg parties; under-age participation is implied.
  • Julie remembers having several shots of peppermint schnapps at her prom.
  • Julie gets very drunk one night.  She doesn’t drive, but she does get involved in a life-threatening situation because she isn’t thinking straight.

Negative Content:

  • A major deception hurts Julie badly when she learns the truth.
  • This is the story of a family in denial of deep, heart-wrenching issues that have to be addressed before they can move on.
  • Julie’s father is a major jerk to his only child.

Spiritual Content:

  • Meaningless, non-spiritual, observance of Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Profanity.
  • “Finn is God” is blasphemous at best.

My Personal Opinions:

Flat-Out Love is not for those readers who are looking for a “clean read” (due to language and sexual content).

Flat-Out Love is a book that isn’t appropriate for teens less than fourteen or fifteen, and it is not for those readers who are looking for a “clean read” (due to language and sexual content).  In my opinion, many of the “pop culture” references will fly right over the heads of students still in high school.  I think much of the humor will be wasted on a younger audience, but adults will enjoy it since they have a more extensive vocabulary and greater life experience than the typical high school student.  That’s one of the best things about a book; a book can wait for the reader to grow up and appreciate it more the second time around.

While I was happy with the end result of the story, I was sad about the cavalier attitude towards sex in the story.  Yeah, I know young adults participate, but it’s a very serious step to take and shouldn’t be treated lightly.   I’m happy that Julie, at least, seemed to view sex as something more than an entertaining activity.

I hope that Flat-Out Love is a sign of great things to come.  Meanwhile, I look forward to reading it again.    Send article as PDF   
About the Author

Kathrese McKee started life as a Systems Engineer at EDS, spent time in real estate, taught middle grade Reading and ESL in Texas, and settled down to blog and write speculative fiction for Young Adults.

As a teacher, she fell in love with books written for Teens and Young Adults. Her favorite books are “coming of age” stories about young people on the difficult road of self-discovery.

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