Friday, May 15, 2015

Double Review: Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca

Last Year's Mistake by Gina Ciocca
Release Date: June 9, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse

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.

Told in alternating sections, LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE is a charming and romantic debut about loving, leaving, and letting go.

Milka's Thoughts:

At the end of 2014, I listed Ciocca's debut Last Year's Mistake as one of my most anticipated books for 2015, which means that I was extremely excited to start reading it. Unfortunately, it seems like this “most expected” title did not do it for me this time...

Last Year's Mistake introduces us to Kelsey and David. After being friends for years, through misunderstandings and uncomfortable situations, they found themselves drifting apart. Then Kelsey moved away from Connecticut to Rhode Island and thought that her days with David were over. She thought wrong. When David shows up at Rhode Island and at her school, Kelsey's life turns upside down. She's reminded of feelings she had for David over a year ago and she does not know how to fit David into her new life.

I did not like Kelsey at all. Though she desperately tries not to be “one of those girls”, she is self-centered and has a tendency to think that the world revolves around her. She thinks that she is better/superior to the “sluts” and “skanks” David attracts and in general, it feels like she thinks that in comparison to other girls, she is better. I love opinionated characters, but I am not okay with slut shaming. NOT AT ALL. I hate the whole “those girls” vs. “me” comparison, especially when it makes it seem like “those girls” always equal something trashy. The way Kelsey acts and talks makes it very difficult to like her and I hated how the author had brought in issues with Kelsey's health to make her seem more likable, especially after she does not really delve into them but rather just mentions them to someone further divide her from “those girls”.

The relationship between Kelsey and David is fairly interesting at first, but it started to drag very quickly and eventually the whole “will they, won't they” scenario just gets old. The whole dynamic just feels very cliché, filled with silly misunderstandings and predictable twists and turns. In addition, I wasn't a fan of how the dynamic between the two affects people around them, especially the individuals they are in relationships with. By the end, I felt the presence of these characters, especially Kelsey, was so toxic that I did not care anymore what happens to them.

What really made me keep up with this novel was the structure of it with the alternating chapters following the life of Kelsey and David in the past and in the present. Through a structure like this, the reader gets to experience the first meeting between the two and what exactly made them to lose contact. With a structure like this, Ciocca adds context to the story and adds layers to character development. Unfortunately, though the structure was enjoyable for me, the way Kelsey is portrayed both in the past and the present made it very difficult for me to feel anything for her.

I think the main reason I found myself struggling with this novel is Kelsey. I find it so important to establish some sort of connection with the main characters and unfortunately with Kelsey, I did not even want to feel any sort of connection as more and more were revealed of her. Last Year's Mistake clearly wasn't for me, but I think that for a reader who does not interpret Kelsey quite the way I did, it could be a very entertaining contemporary read. So yes, not for me, but maybe hopefully for you?

2 Snowflakes
Tina's Thoughts:
Last Year's Mistake, is told in a before and after alternating chapters as we start off with senior year and Kelsey Crawford's life is just about perfect. Things at home are good, she has real friends and a boyfriend who adores her, but that all changed the minute she saw David Kerrigan walking down the hall at her school. Back up to the summer of freshman year and we see a younger David and Kelsey meeting for the first time at Kelsey's uncle's summerhouse. They become fast friends, best friends for the next three years, that is till something between them changed everything they had and the two haven't spoken to one another in more then a year. Two worlds collide from the past to the present as this story of first love and second chances unfolds. The heart wants what it wants, no matter how much they try to deny it.

Drama, drama drama! Man, this book is crazy with the drama and angst, but you know what? I actually enjoyed this because of it. This is a book that is filled with all kinds of stuff that would have me rolling my eyes and banging my head against the wall. We've got jealousy and head games and hateful and hurtful things said one minute only to go wistfully down memory lane the next. But despite the hot and cold and back and forth and the push and pull and the sole fact that I wanted to shake these characters straight from the minute we meet them, I still have to admit, this was crazy entertaining and I was absolutely compelled to see how everything would play out.

I've always been a huge sucker for best friends-turned-romance and second chance love and man, did Gina Ciocca ever nail that intense, uncomfortable and awkward energy but still manages to bring on the emotional feels and warm moments that pulled at my heart strings. She does such a fantastic job delivering complicated characters in a realistic, exhausting and heartfelt way. It made me remember that, this is what first love felt like. This is the stuff that makes young love what it is. It's messy and flawed and its tied up with moments of stupid mistakes, haunting regrets, the uncertain heart and the intangible what if's. It's twisted and unsure, crazy and perfect all wrapped up in one giant pulsing bleeding heart.

I really enjoyed all of these characters. They were easy to relate to and connect with, even if they did manage to frustrate me half the time.
Kelsey and David are great individually but stronger together. But dame if they didn't give the reader a helluva time. I loved seeing their history leap off the pages and I was so anxious to see where it all went wrong cause Kelsey and David were some solid besties that knew each other better then anyone and were there for one another in good times and bad. Seeing them now in senior year wasn't always easy, but weather they were ignoring it, fighting it or hiding it, they still had some of the best sizzling chemistry evah. Granted they had there share of issues and not with just each other but I couldn't help root for them throughout the story and love the sweeter and warmer moments that made my heart flip and grin a stupid grin. I also liked the secondary characters as well. Ryan was indeed an ass, but I liked that he always treated Kelsey like gold. You could tell he really did love her. I though Violet was a bit of a flake but Candy and Matt were good people and I loved what Kelsey's family and David's dad brought to the storyline.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. It does have it's ups and downs, but I love how realistically it portrays the high school years and teenage trouble. This brought me back to my younger days and reminded me that even then, love is worth fighting for especially at it's messiest moments. A great debut and a fun escape. I look forward to seeing more from this talented author.

Find the author:
Goodreads / Twitter                              4 Snowflakes

1 comment:

  1. Great double review!

    @Milka I totally get you point. While I can like a book even if I dislike main character, it’s the lack of connection that I can’t forgive.

    @Tina I love angst, when it’s well done, so maybe I’ll check out this book.