Review: Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park

Book Series:

SYNOPSIS:

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.

… Read more Read less…

REVIEW

date read: Jun 1st, 2014

Some stories are achingly beautiful and incredibly moving. They reach deep into the core of my soul and they fill me with so much happiness. They break my heart a bit and then wash away each tear with their intensity.

… Flat-Out Celeste is one of them.

 You are who you are. Don’t be ashamed of yourself. At all.
Surround yourself with people who cheer you on.

justinandceleste_flat-outI finished reading it and then I found myself in that state of mind when I somehow feel like crying (over a wonderful, emotional book), even though inside I am all happy and giddy. You know the feeling, right?

The thing is, I read “Flat-Out Love” quite a while back and I fell in love with it, with the characters, with their stories, with their pain and their happiness. And now, following Celeste, reading from her point of view, being in her tormented, beautiful mind (that it is also full of hope and dreams and love) – it felt like too much to take in, in the best possible way.

I still feel like falling..
I don’t know how skydiving actually feels like (though Matt taught me a thing or two about it *fanning*), but it must be similar somehow – as exhilarating and amazing and full of contradictory emotions.
And it is fitting, you know – Celeste means ‘heavenly’, ‘divine’, so it is related to the sky and it becomes a metaphor on its own, it defines so well the character and it works with my post-skydiving-alike euphoria.

Yeah, I know, I am drunk on this story and I am irrationally babbling.
Caution.. This story might have this effect on you too.

The good:

I don’t even know what should I start with.

I loved Jessica’s emotional writing, full of humour but also tear inducing.
I loved the characters full of life and love, of hope and fears. I loved their complexity, their particularities, I loved everything about them all.

Then there is the beautiful dialog (with the unique way Celeste talks in) and the wittiness most characters seem to carry around, the geeky t-shirts with those lovely funny messages on them, not to mention the coffee routine, the emails and the sugar-sweet romance.

I guess this means that I loved everything about this story.. and yeah, I truly did!

The Characters:

celeste_flat-outCELESTE is such a wonderful and special character.
There’s nothing ‘flat’ about her, she has a lot of depth, but I guess that she needed to find that on her own. She needed someone to un-break her tiny heart, she needed to break free of the protectiveness of her family (especially Matt, who loved her so much that he sacrificed everything for her; Matt who also kept her as a shield, ‘protecting’ him from taking risks and living his life), she needed to find ‘herself’ and be comfortable in her own skin. Most of all she needed love. Because love was what broke her in the first place, and love was what could make her whole again.

It will be lovely to see you again. I have missed you, and I don’t have occasion to miss many people.
~ Celeste

justin_flat-outJUSTIN is one of the funniest guys out there.
I loved his ramblings, I loved his clumsiness, I loved how protective and caring he was with Celeste, but also I loved how he was the one that made her break free of the many things that kept her in that imperfect bubble of solitude. He was everything she needed and reading their story made me really giddy. They were both so cute and right for each other.

I won’t lie to you, he might have been a bit too good to be true at some point and a bit over-done with the <<I always do that, embarrass people, you might not like me already, but that’s fine>> kind of act and the ex reference – all that could have been toned down a bit too.

But he was wonderful nonetheless and absolutely perfect for Celeste (so full of life and tender). And together they were simply too adorable for words! And I truly I fell in love with their emails.

matt_flat-outMATT is a complicated character, as you already know.
He is too into sacrificing his own happiness for the greater good and sometimes he doesn’t understand that people can be happy without actually stepping all over his heart. But I did fell in love with him in the first book and his novella, and so I did more than appreciate each moment with him.

As for the relationship between him and Celeste.. that’s precious. They tease, they help each other, they fight even and they do whatever it takes for the other’s happiness, no matter at what cost.

I am not giving up on you.
You should.
Never.

MATT & JULIE come as a package (more or less) and a lovely one in fact. It pained me to see them apart and I rooted for their ‘happy ever after’ once more. There was this utterly romantic scene I should probably not mention (some might think it’s unrealistic and quick, well I think it’s fairytale alike and sweet).

Conclusion:

I could tell you many more things about Celeste’s parents and her new friends, about her dreams and needs, about her first date and first kiss, about each and every element I loved in this book, but that would never be enough. You need to feel each emotion on your own, you need to love this book for your own personal reasons.

All I can say is that this book is more than I ever thought it would be:
Simply, utterly and flat-out amazing!

Happy midnight reading!


Book source: ARC received from the publisher for review. Thank you very much!

Movie of choice:

But, don't let me do all the talking. I want to know what you think of this as well.

  • Amelia

    Lovely (you’ve been on a roll painting all these beautiful stories in such amazing light lately)! Need this book, and soon! :D

    • http://www.readingaftermidnight.com/ Ari

      Thanks, sweetie, what can I say, I got inspired :D
      I think this might be your kind of book, so I can’t wait to hear your thoughts on it ;)

  • Jojo

    Oh, it is out already? I loved-loved-loved the first book and Matt’s POV and I can’t wait to get my hands on this one. Amazing review by the way ;)

    • http://www.readingaftermidnight.com/ Ari

      Yes, it is, I really hope that you will love it.
      Celeste is so special, I adore her.. and Justin just as much ;)))

  • Lis @ The reader lines

    Well, I’m not reading this…. again.
    I’m taking your spoiler alert, but I already ordered the first book. Wish me luck, maybe it comes sooner!

    • http://www.readingaftermidnight.com/ Ari

      Don’t worry, I keep spoilers out of my reviews, and lucky me – for some reasons I didn’t read any of those before reading the first book (though they are so many on GR), so it was a nice surprise everything that happened in it.
      I truly hope you will enjoy this series, both books plus the novella are so great!