Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Keywords: high school, moving
Format Read: ARC via publisher (thank you!)
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COVER STORYI'm a little bored with this one to be honest. It seems like a typical YA cover, but there's no real relevance with the car or sitting on it. I mean, there are cars in the story, but it's not totally important, so I think it could have a better cover than this.
WHY I LIKED ITThe overall pacing was great. The book flipped between the past and present, following paralleling year story lines, and the unfolding of events kept me hooked, wondering what possibly could have happened in the past to make events in the present so awkward (although it was sophomore year and senior year, so I feel like Last Year's Mistake should include more of the actual last year, but I don't feel super strongly on this).
I also really liked David and Ryan. David is the friend from Kelsey's past and Ryan is her boyfriend in the present. Though at the beginning Ryan seemed like a beefy human without a brain, I was glad to see I was wrong. I could totally see why Kelsey ended up liking him at her new school. He was kind and truly meant well, though he didn't always make good decisions—but then, no one in this book made good decisions. David also felt extremely realistic. He had all kinds of friends and truly wanted everyone to get along. He had a hard time dealing with his own issues and decisions just like anyone would, and I liked seeing him struggle with Kelsey's feelings and hostility toward him.
It was also true to the teenage lifestyle in keeping with the themes of making bad decisions and not communicating well. There was some slut-shaming in this book, which I'll get to in a bit. It was rough to read but felt realistic to what high schoolers say, and I appreciated the honest look at it.
RESERVATIONSAbout the slut-shaming. While calling girls skanks happens in high school, I did not sympathize with the main character in why she felt these things. Throughout most of the book, we're wondering what happened that year that was so bad to Kelsey, but her actions begin with automatically making assumptions without having an inkling of a cause behind them. The girls she was talking about had literally done nothing up until about three-quarters of the way through, and even then, there was one girl I still sided with because I don't think Kelsey was justified in hating her.
For the most part, I didn't have an issue with the writing, but every once in a while, there were some lines of dialogue that were so over-the-top cheesy and terrible and lines that no one would say that it jolted me out of the story. These bothered me, and they were mostly in the beginning of the book. Once I got about 50 pages in, I liked the book much more, and it felt like a bit of a false start with the stilted dialogue.
FINAL THOUGHTSOverall, it was a really good best friends-maybe-something-more book. I'm always a fan of those, and I will probably always like those. However, the details of the book did not impress me. Stilted dialogue and strange decisions with seemingly no consequences (or characters that didn't care about any consequences?) that really brought me out of the reality of the book, despite the fun back-and-forth nature of the MCs.