Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Review: Last Year's Mistake (Ciocca)

AUTHOR: Gina Ciocca
SERIES: none
ISBN: 9781481432238
PAGES: 320
SOURCE: Edelweiss
GENRE: contemporary romance
SETTING: Connecticut and Rhode Island, 4 years ago and present day
SUMMARY: Freshman year, David and Kelsey were inseparable best friends. That is, until Kelsey moved away to a new school in Rhode Island. Content to leave her wallflower past behind her, Kelsey reinvents herself. Four years later, she is a popular senior with a hot boyfriend and invitations to plenty of parties. Trouble strikes, however, when David unexpectedly moves to Kelsey's school. And David doesn't want to leave the past behind.

REVIEW: Before I get to my review, here's a pop quiz:

1. On the night of a big school dance, your best friend (whom you had wanted to take to the dance but didn't) is rushed to the hospital, bleeding profusely. The doctor says she may have a life-threatening disease. You:

     A) Rush to the hospital as soon as you find out and sit with your bestie as long as the hospital will let you stay.

     B) Pick up your date FIRST, rush to the hospital with the date, give your sick and frightened bestie a quick kiss on the cheek, and then go on to the dance. Oh, and then stay the night at the date's house and tell her that your sick bestie is in the hospital because she probably tried to kill herself. Don't call or text the bestie all night to check on her.

2. Your best friend, whom you love desperately and once thought you'd never see again, kisses you passionately and tells you he loves you, has always loved you. You:

     A) Kiss him back! You love him, too! Yay!

     B) Kiss him back, then cause 124 more pages of teen drama. Tell him he's better off with your shallow friend, whom he doesn't and will never love. Tell him you'd feel bad leaving your boyfriend even though you are not married and your heart belongs to someone else. Don't forget to act insanely jealous when the best friend actually tries to move on with your shallow friend. He's mine, Biotch!

3. You are a hormonal teenage boy, in love with your girlfriend of over a year. At a party, you try to make out with your girlfriend, but all she does is pushes you away and try to clean up after the party-goers. You:

     A) Wonder why she might be doing that. Cleaning, seriously? Could this have something to do with the former manly-man best friend moving into town?

     B) Say okay and don't protest when it's time for your girlfriend to drive the other guy home. And don't question anything when she's very late in returning from the trip. It's all good.

4. You are the father to two beautiful teenage girls. You just found out you got a job in another state, which you are very excited about. The best time to tell your daughters is:

     A) During a family dinner, when life is as calm and chaos-free as possible.

     B) When your older daughter has just woken up in the hospital, thinks she might have leukemia, and needs an emergency blood transfusion.

5. You are sitting in a high school English class and want to say something to the student in the seat next to you. You:

     A) Pass a note. Look like you are taking notes for class as you write. Pass the note when the teacher turns around.

     B) Text the person. Sure, the text may beep and get you and/or your friend into trouble. Sure, you may be seen typing into your cell phone, but passing a note is so conspicuous and old-school. AmIright?

If you answered "B" in any of these circumstances, you just might be a character from Last Year's Mistake ("Mistake" should be plural there). These are some pretty awful people making some pretty stupid decisions. And Kelsey (Grr, is there EVER a character named Kelsey who isn't whiny and self-absorbed?) is absolutely the worst offender of all. She is just so convinced no one likes her and everyone is making fun of her. And that all females her age are sluts, skanks, or bitches--other than her, of course, since she was, like, a virgin "up until she met Ryan" in her junior year. That's totally different! She was was like, 16, practically an adult!

And what is with all the teen drinking? These kids party hard. Their parents are endlessly out of town and completely clueless. Where do these teenagers get all this alcohol? The kids even know how to make strawberry daiquiris with "a thousand parts alcohol and two parts strawberry-flavored ice." Who do they know that is over 21 and can buy all that liquor? If they steal it from their parents, why do their parents have so much alcohol and why does no one ever notice it is missing? WOW.

So, no, I'm not a huge fan of this book. And it's not only the ridiculous characters and their terrible decisions. I struggled with the flashback and flash-forward format. There were so many "slutty" girls being mean to Kelsey that I had a hard time keeping them straight. It took me half the book to realize Maddie was at the Connecticut school and not the Rhode Island school. And I never understood how, four years ago, David and Kelsey vacationed with their families in side-by-side summer homes AND ALSO attended the same high school in Connecticut. And lived within walking distance in Connecticut. Did I miss something?

And the drama! So. Much. Senseless. Drama. All of which could easily be resolved with a few actual conversations with the people you call friends. But, no, drama and tears are so much better.

I kept hoping for an unreliable narrator here, something to explain why Kelsey felt everyone was against her and why David implied that Kelsey had attempted suicide. Sadly though, no one is mentally ill here. What a shame.

THE BOTTOM LINE:  Great for anyone who loves a strong dose of teenage drama and horribly bad decision-making all around.

STATUS IN MY LIBRARY:  I don't plan to get this. There are so many better best friend romances available for teens.

READALIKES:  Every Ugly Word (Salter); Skinny (Cooner)

  • Overall: 2/5--I was interested enough to finish it (only because I was hoping for an unreliable narrator)
  • Creativity: 1/5--I know of many other recently-published YA books like this (only better)
  • Characters: 1/5--horrible people. No one to root for at all.
  • Engrossing:  3/5--okay, I was a little engrossed. I wanted to see how it all worked out.
  • Writing: 2/5--the flashback, flash-forward format was awkward.
  • Appeal to teens: 3/5--Yes, some will like this, but there are many better romance/bullying stories available to teens
  • Appropriate length to tell the story: 2/5--This one went on about 100 pages too long. Was really ready to finish already.
  • Language: medium-high--includes F-bomb, sh**, bitch, damn, hell. Some seem thrown in just to add some profanity.
  • Sexuality: medium-high--intercourse, kissing, crossing 2nd base, innuendo, lots of slut-shaming, brief mention of menstruation
  • Violence: none
  • Drugs/Alcohol: very high--the teens drink and party very often; no drugs mentioned

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