Thursday, June 11, 2015

Review: Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca

Last Year’s Mistake by Gina Ciocca
Series: Standalone
Published: June 9th, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
313 pages (ARC)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From Simon & Schuster Canada for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}

Kelsey and David became best friends the summer before freshman year and were inseparable ever after. Until the night a misunderstanding turned Kelsey into the school joke, and everything around her crumbled—including her friendship with David. So when Kelsey's parents decided to move away, she couldn't wait to start over and leave the past behind. Except, David wasn't ready to let her go...

Now it's senior year and Kelsey has a new group of friends, genuine popularity, and a hot boyfriend. Her life is perfect. That is, until David's family moves to town and he shakes up everything. Soon old feelings bubble to the surface and threaten to destroy Kelsey's second chance at happiness. The more time she spends with David, the more she realizes she never truly let him go. And maybe she never wants to.

I have mixed feelings about Last Year’s Mistake. I was instantly drawn in by the cover, curious about the synopsis, and even more curious by the mix of reviews I was seeing. There were elements of the book I liked, but there were also things that bothered me. I felt a bit of a disconnect throughout, like I could never quite get invested in the characters or the story, and I had trouble remembering what was going on whenever I set it down for awhile.

The book is told in alternating chapters between Kelsey’s freshman year and senior year. In freshman year she’s best friends with David, but things at school are rough, and she doesn’t really have any other friends. In senior year, we see her as one of the popular kids, with a hot boyfriend. When David comes back into her life, old feelings are stirred up, and Kelsey feels conflicted. She can’t forget their shared past, no matter how hard she tries, but she doesn’t know how to have a friendship with David because of things that happened before, and because her boyfriend and friends think she and David have feelings for each other. There’s basically a lot of misunderstandings and confusion, Kelsey being possessive of David, and calling most of the other female characters (even one of her supposed closest friends) a slut or a whore.

There were a few points where I connected with Kelsey. The stuff that was happening to her before she left Connecticut broke my heart, and I could imagine how hard it must have been for her. I think I had trouble connecting with the romance because neither guy seemed all that great and we didn’t learn all that much about them because Kelsey spent so much time thinking about her situation. There were moments I liked David, and I definitely preferred him over asshat Ryan, but I never got that swoony feeling I love getting when reading contemporary YA, especially ones that are as romance-centric as Last Year’s Mistake.

One thing I appreciated about the book was how Kelsey and David weren’t each other’s first, last, and only relationship. They each dated other people, which is realistic. I’m a romance junkie and I adore reading about first love, watching characters fall for the first time, and feeling like they could be together forever, but it’s not necessarily the most realistic thing. Kelsey had to watch David date another girl, and then when she moved she started dating someone else, and David eventually did, too. A lot of teens do date multiple people, some serious, some not, and I liked that that was worked into the story...despite the story involving a love triangle and cheating. 

I also liked that Last Year's Mistake shows how ‘starting over’ isn’t always as easy as simply moving away, not knowing anyone, changing your hair, or deciding to act differently. In theory it’s easy, and you can make changes on the outside and even to your behaviour, but you’re still the same person. Your past stays with you no matter what and shapes who you are. Kelsey got a fresh start in some ways when she moved, but her life was far from perfect, and even some of the things she thought she wanted (like her dad’s success, for instance) turned out different than she expected. 

I was curious about Kelsey's best friend Candy and was surprised by what a good friend she turned out to be, but we hardly see her at all. She’s just sort of there, and I would have liked to see more interactions between her and Kelsey, especially because it seemed like Kelsey really needed someone to talk to. I also would have liked to see more of her family, especially her sister, who seemed to really want to be part of Kelsey’s life, but who Kelsey only seemed to think of as her annoying, nosy little sister. Most of the side characters felt like they were there just to serve a purpose and weren’t really fleshed out.

Overall, Last Year’s Mistake was just okay for me. It didn’t offer anything particularly original, or characters that grabbed my attention, heart, or mind. Even if I’d been able to get past the love triangle and cheating, I just couldn’t connect with the characters or story. That being said, I know plenty of people who have thoroughly enjoyed Last Year’s Mistake, so if you’re looking for something light and quick, and if you enjoy stories about second chances with a strong focus on romance, you might want to give this one a try.


Have you read Last Year's Mistake? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? How do you feel about love triangles? How about books with cheating? Let's talk here or on Twitter!


  1. Hmmmmm... I really wanted to read this one, but from the stuff you're saying about it, I'm kinda leaning toward not reading it. It sounds really good, but when it comes to the alternating years and other little frustrations, I think I'd just be annoyed in the end. Plus, love triangle and cheating? Not so keen on that stuff... but I'm sure some people may like this one, like you said. :)

  2. Well, it sounds like a cute story but I think the characters would drive me crazy.


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