“You tolerated all of my craziness. You made me happy.”
“You did the same for me. Do the same. You create contractions.”
This was probably one of the sweetest books that I have ever had the pleasure of reading! Jessica Park has a knack for creating offbeat, quirky characters that just wrap themselves around your heart and don’t let go. This was the case in Flat Out Love when we first met Celeste and the Watkins family and I think it got even stronger after reading this follow up. Celeste was brilliant as the main character and as a reader your heart will ache for this sweet girl who so desperately wants to fit in and it will also soar as the relationship between her and Justin (as well as a few other friends) begins to develop. This book made me feel all warm and fuzzy inside as I watched Celeste bloom into the wonderful young woman she was always meant to be!
When this book picks up it’s about 5 years after the events of Flat Out Love and Celeste is now 18 years old and in her senior year of high school. We can see that she has come quite far since FOL but she still struggles with being a social misfit. With college decisions looming, she is more determined than ever to try to find some way to fit in. Some of the things she tries are pretty hilarious and others are just heartbreaking. Celeste hides these struggles from her family, making them believe that she has a healthy social life. It’s so sad to think that she has to hide this from her family, especially from Matt who we know would do anything for her. As a reader I think it’s clear that Celeste doesn’t give herself enough credit, sure she may not be what is considered the norm, but she has so many wonderful qualities that people should feel lucky to find in a friend. I loved going on the journey with her though as she figured this out for herself.
“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.”
“That is a generous way to see me.”
“It’s the only way to see you.”
Slowly but surely though things begin to turn around for her. Enter Justin, the sweetest, silliest boy who first contacts her via email to try to recruit her for Barton College in San Diego where he attends. You will fall in love with him from his first email, or emails rather since the poor kid can’t seem to remember to include all of the pertinent information the first time. I love his ramblings and his barrage of emails or texts, it was completely adorable and I loved how they inadvertently brought out a lighter side in Celeste as she sought to figure out what to make of him. At one point in the book Celeste likens Justin’s energy and bounciness to that of Tigger from Winnie the Pooh and I think that was a totally spot on comparison. Their first ‘date’ (#itsnotadate) was the cutest thing ever, his cheeriness and kindness and her almost childlike naiveté created a totally endearing combination that totally gave me butterflies! He was the absolute perfect match for her and watching their relationship develop was so heartwarming and beautiful. I love how they both grounded each other and just totally understood one another, this was undoubtedly one of the most romantic books I have read in a while. So sweet!
“I am choosing a love that defies boundaries and a life that defies boundaries. That is the power of Celeste.”
Having overcome his own battles with accepting himself and fitting in, I love the way that Justin empowered Celeste and helped her see all that she had to offer. This was very much a love story but it was also a story of self-discovery and being yourself. This book really holds a powerful message and I think that pretty much anyone can relate to the struggles Celeste was going through on some level.
Also in here is a pretty important side story with Julie & Matt that ends up tying back in nicely with Celeste’s own journey. I was positively distraught early on in this book learning what had become of our beloved couple from FOL, but there is a journey here as well which fans of that book will not want to miss!
I absolutely loved this book, I think even more than Flat Out Love, Celeste was completely charming and I fell so in love with her and Justin. It was an absolute joy to read and if the author ever decides to write more about these characters I would gladly read it all!
“You’re a lifesaver, Celeste.”
“No, you are my lifesaver, Justin.”