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Monday, November 21, 2011

I Found A Fantabulous New Author!!

My latest purchase on iBooks was to get Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park. It's only $1.99 right now on Kindle, but available on Kobo, Nook, Diesel, Smashwords, Apple, and Sony.

The premise behind this YA book fascinated me! Here's the product description:

Flat-Out Love is a warm and witty novel of family love and dysfunction, deep heartache and raw vulnerability, with a bit of mystery and one whopping, knock-you-to-your-knees romance.

It's not what you know--or when you see--that matters. It's about a journey.

Something is seriously off in the Watkins home. And Julie Seagle, college freshman, small-town Ohio transplant, and the newest resident of this Boston house, is determined to get to the bottom of it. When Julie's off-campus housing falls through, her mother's old college roommate, Erin Watkins, invites her to move in. The parents, Erin and Roger, are welcoming, but emotionally distant and academically driven to eccentric extremes. The middle child, Matt, is an MIT tech geek with a sweet side ... and the social skills of a spool of USB cable. The youngest, Celeste, is a frighteningly bright but freakishly fastidious 13-year-old who hauls around a life-sized cardboard cutout of her oldest brother almost everywhere she goes.

And there's that oldest brother, Finn: funny, gorgeous, smart, sensitive, almost emotionally available. Geographically? Definitely unavailable. That's because Finn is traveling the world and surfacing only for random Facebook chats, e-mails, and status updates. Before long, through late-night exchanges of disembodied text, he begins to stir something tender and silly and maybe even a little bit sexy in Julie's suddenly lonesome soul.

To Julie, the emotionally scrambled members of the Watkins family add up to something that ... well ... doesn't quite add up. Not until she forces a buried secret to the surface, eliciting a dramatic confrontation that threatens to tear the fragile Watkins family apart, does she get her answer.

Flat-Out Love comes complete with emails, Facebook status updates, and instant messages.

Tell me you don't want to read that? Of course, as a therapist, I was immediately curious about this young 13-year-old carrying around the cardboard cut-out of her brother. Really? Who even thinks of this as an idea for a story? (Read the answer to that here.)

Both Julie, Finn, and Matt all have amazing, quirky dialogue that made me laugh out loud. After reading the author's website, though, I can see her own voice so clearly in their discussions. I'm a sucker for online love, too. I really enjoy reading chats and facebook statuses in a book. Lends such an authentic, real-time flavor to the romance. The hours literally flew by as I inhaled this book.

I appreciated being reminded of how it felt to be in a freshman psych class and thinking I had all the answers, and that went without saying that I had answers not only for myself and MY family, but for others, too. I loved the psych professor and his insight, so much so that I asked Jessica if she had a professional therapist read the book. (Turns out, she was a psych major and went to a graduate program in social work! She also consulted with her dad, who is a therapist. That's why it rang so true!) I also remember coming home from college and thinking the life I had loved so much through high school suddenly was lackluster and smaller somehow. And it was a great reminder of how our own motivations as healers can sometimes be a large factor in our actions. (In fact, I think I might have my clinical interns read this book and discuss it during supervision. I'm sure they'll hate thank me for that.)

I was diagnosing Celeste as I read (occupational hazard, of course), but the gigantor secret that emerges even had me taken by surprised until it was right upon me. The way Julie flounders trying to help this family not only hit home (a bit too closely), but it made the reader tension almost unbearably high to finally find out what on earth happened to make this family so kooky!

Emotions were at an all-time high for me reading this book. I laughed at the banter, cried at the heartache, fanned myself through the romance. It was an utter delight to much so that as soon as I finished the book, I immediately went and bought her other YA book, Relatively Famous. It, too, seems to deal with very big emotions and life-changing events, so I'm eager to get started on it.

Jessica's book is ranked (at the time of the post) #7 in the top 100 Paid books for Kindle for a reason. If you haven't checked it out, don't miss it.