The third volume in the popular “Flat-Out” series, FLAT-OUT CELESTE explores the budding romantic relationship between two social misfits. Filled with delightful humor, spirited word play, and tender moments, this teenaged tale’s appeal is not limited to young adult readers.
High school senior Celeste Watkins doesn’t fit into any social circles at her private school. Highly intellect, though socially backward, she intimidates classmates with her physical beauty, academic acumen, and off-putting personality that foregoes the use of contractions in her speech. In addition, Celeste (and the rest of her family) has not recovered from the death of her older brother, Finn. The fact that she carried around a cardboard standee “Flat Finn” for nearly three years after his death doesn’t do much to help her social standing either.
Amid the stress of selecting colleges, Celeste finds new friends at school (whom she helps write admissions essays), her first boyfriend (a handsome liaison from a small California college), and inner strength she never knew she had. Justin, the liaison from Barton College, initially woos Celeste by email as a prospective student, although their relationship gradually develops through texts, phone calls, and personal visits to a solid romance built on trust and respect.
In their own ways, both fall outside the spectrum of what is perceived as “normal.” Although labels are not assigned and diagnoses are not discussed, Celeste appears to have Asperger’s Syndrome, which impedes her ability to accurately process social interactions, and Justin exhibits signs of ADHD, which keeps him chattering, bouncing, and frequently bumping into things. Together they work to heal each other and make sense of their world.
The characters engage readers throughout the book with lively dialogue and genuine emotions. While their situation has unique elements, the relationship is like other young lovers attempting to navigate through peer pressure, family dysfunction, raging hormones, and fear of the unknown.
FLAT-OUT CELESTE provides a highly satisfying read with well-developed characters, laugh-out-loud humor, and an inspiring story of growth.
Reviewed by Carol Michaels for IndieReader.