**I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review**
Because there is magic in diversity.
I was completely enamored by Celeste when reading Flat-Out-Love and was beyond excited when I found out that she would have her own book! She is, by far, one of my favorite supporting characters ever. She was truly fascinating. An adorably quirky, vulnerable, and complex character, and I could not wait to venture inside her head and see how she had grown and matured since we last saw her. I was also happy to get a sneak peek into the lives of some of the other characters from the series, especially Julie and Matt. Although the "help" that is mentioned in the synopsis had me a bit anxious.
Trying to survive her senior year of high school, she out shines her fellow students with her extreme intelligence and is left feeling isolated, while longing for things that she's convinced are out of her reach. Despite her brilliant mind and beautiful appearance, she remains insecure and full of self-doubt. She's anxious to get to college, where she can focus on academics. But when she realizes that college also comes with its fair share of social situations, she wants to prepare herself. Thus begins Celeste's self-imposed social makeover.
Enter Justin Milano, a very charming college sophomore, who Celeste meets when he emails her on behalf of his university, which is showing interest in her. The two of them begin to email back and forth, quickly becoming friends, and they are absolutely adorable together! Justin is equally awkward, but so much fun. He's animated and is so very sweet, that I couldn't help but smile every time he made an appearance in the book. Right from the start, Justin and Celeste seemed perfect for each other. Although the tender moments between these two characters warmed my heart, no relationship is perfect, and they aren't without their fair share of struggles.
He was so beautiful, this boy, in all senses of the word. He made her feel raw and exposed and vulnerable, but in doing so, he was healing her and empowering her.
Another thing I loved about this book was being able to see Celeste come into her own. Despite her difficulties, she's clearly such a strong character, and it was so satisfying to see that strength shine through. And Justin was a huge part of her transformation.
"But I am gettin' ballsy, aren't I? It's fun."
I have to say that Jessica Park does email correspondence like no other! The conversations between Matt and Julie in the first book were some of my favorite parts of that book, and the same is true for Celeste and Justin! She has taken some of my most favorite things from Flat-Out-Love, and molded them to fit Celeste and her personality perfectly. I loved all of the references to my favorite scenes from the first book. It really made me want to run and re-read Flat-Out-Love right after finishing this book. (Did I use the word "favorite" enough?)
And the scenes with Matt and Julie? Be still my heart. They were absolutely perfect.
Flat-Out-Celeste is a charming, completely endearing story about first love, and is told with such a unique sense of humor. It's about feeling confident in your own skin, and realizing that you don't need to change a thing about yourself to find acceptance. There's someone out there who will love you just as you are. The author had me laughing, crying, and cheering for these characters, and I couldn't put it down. To have dialogue that is so proper, even a bit stiff, evoke so much emotion, just shows how talented this author is, and is just another reason why I love her work so much. This was another home run for Jessica Park and I can't wait to see what she comes up with next!
And in that kiss, a part of me came to life.
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.
(Information taken from Jessica's website)
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