Is there anything that electric chemistry can’t overcome? The past may be gone, but love has a way of holding on in this romantic debut novel told in alternating Before and After chapters.
The summer before freshman year, Kelsey and David became inseparable best friends—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 decide to move away, she can’t wait to start over and leave the past behind. But David’s not quite ready to be left.
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. 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 let him go. And maybe she never wants to…
|Product dimensions:||8.30(w) x 5.60(h) x 1.10(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Stephanie Bentley is a Los Angeles-based actress, singer, voice-over artist, and audiobook narrator. She regularly performs musical improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Hollywood and is also known for spoofing Twilight's Bella Swan on the popular web series The BAMF Girls Club.
Read an Excerpt
Last Year's Mistake
The first day of senior year, he came back. I should have known it wasn’t over. Nothing ever is.
I smoothed my white sundress beneath me as I took my seat beside Ryan, my boyfriend of almost a year, in his Camaro. The air was tinged with last night’s September chill, a reminder that I’d soon be watching summer melt into fall for the second time as a resident of Rhode Island. Sometimes I still wondered if the whole thing was a dream.
The Camaro’s engine idled loudly as I pulled down the visor to check my makeup. Satisfied that lip gloss and mascara hadn’t budged on the way from the house to the car, I snapped the mirror back into place.
Then my insides went cold.
Something was clipped to the visor that I’d never seen in this car before but would have recognized anywhere.
“Where did you get that?”
“This?” Ryan unclipped the half-dollar-size medal, laughing as he held it out to me. “Keep it. You need it more than I do.”
I made no effort to take it from him. “Where did you get it?”
The dimple in Ryan’s left cheek disappeared as his smile faltered. “I found it. What’s your deal?”
My eyes darted from him to the medallion and back again. When I still didn’t touch it, he added, “Oh, come on, babe. It’s a Saint Christopher medal. It’s to protect you while you’re driving. Or, in your case, running squirrels off the road. Lighten up.”
My sister and I were bumming a ride with Ryan on the first day of school because my car was in the shop—the result of an unfortunate incident involving one too many tequila shots and a squirrel. At least, that was the story I’d told him.
I tentatively touched the medal, engraved with an image of Saint Christopher and his staff.
Ryan thought he was teasing by giving me this, laughing it up over an inside joke. But nothing about it was funny. The car suddenly felt too warm, too small, and memories I’d locked away for more than a year poured into my head like water through a broken dam. Images of smiles and touches and kisses that weren’t his.
I stared at the medal in my palm, running my thumb over the uneven surface. “I—I knew someone who had a medal like this.” Not like it. This one was identical to the one in that long-buried past of mine. And now I held it in my hand like sunken treasure churned up from the ocean floor. I rolled the window down a little more, wondering why air couldn’t seem to find its way to my lungs, and stared absently at the wicker rockers on our front porch before adding, “Someone I haven’t seen in a long time.”
“I miss him.” Miranda sighed from the backseat. “He was the best.”
I whipped around. “Be quiet. You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Him?” Ryan adjusted the red Clayton High baseball cap sitting sideways over his blond curls.
Wistfulness clouded Miranda’s blue eyes. “Our friend from back home in Connecticut. He’s—”
“Not important.” I twisted around in my seat again. “Do you want to die on your first day of freshman year?”
“Him who?” Ryan pressed.
I didn’t look at him when I answered. “Not that kind of him. A friend. One I don’t speak to anymore.”
Ryan shifted in his seat. “It’s not like it’s the same medal. Those things are mass produced. You look like you saw a ghost.”
If only I’d known how prophetic those words would be.
I’d tossed the medal into my purse, and had almost forgotten about it by the time Ryan and I were kissing at my locker half an hour later.
“I swear, you two should get tracheotomies so you’ll never have to come up for air.” My best friend, Candy, wrinkled her nose as she slammed her locker shut.
“Jealous, Candle Wax?” Ryan retorted. I hated when he called her that. Candy’s last name was Waxman, hence the rather dim-witted nickname.
“In your dreams, Smurf.” Equally dim-witted: Ryan Murphy. Smurf. Ugh.
Candy fiddled with her cell phone, simultaneously running a brush through her pin-straight dark hair. “You guys wanna grab some breakfast? I’ve been dying for one of Ruthie’s egg ’n’ cheeses all summer.”
“ ‘Egg ’n’ cheeses’?” I laughed. “Is that even a word?”
Candy threw her phone in her bag and tugged on my hair. “Who gives a flying fig? They’re fried, greasy goodness, and that’s all I care about.”
Ryan snorted. “Easy, Wax. Too many of those and that bodacious booty won’t fit into your rah-rah uniform.”
He gave mine a squeeze and I smacked his arm. Kissing and hand-holding and other tame forms of PDA were fine, but I had no interest in being groped in front of our entire high school. Nor did I appreciate him teasing Candy about her butt. As someone who’d spent the better part of puberty hiding its traitorous effects behind shapeless T-shirts, I didn’t take kindly to body comments.
Nothing fazed Candy, though. She and Ryan sparred all the time, and as usual, Candy didn’t miss a beat. Not that I knew what she came back with, because I didn’t hear a word of it.
I happened to glance over her shoulder at that moment, right as one of the glass double doors at the end of the hall opened. Bright sunlight shone through, and for a second I could only make out the outline of the person who stepped inside.
But it was all I needed to see.
My heart froze as I took in his broad shoulders, his dark hair sticking out in all directions. He was taller than I remembered, more built, the angles of his face sharper. Evidence of the time that had passed since I last saw him.
It can’t be.
I might have said it out loud as I pulled myself from Ryan’s arms, my legs turning to mush beneath me.
“Who is that?” Candy said, just as Ryan asked, “Are you all right?” But they sounded a million miles away.
My pulse quickened as the person at the end of the hall took a step forward, and even as the words It can’t be repeated over and over in my head, there was no room for doubt. This morning in the car, I’d felt my past shift in its grave. Now the piece I’d wanted to bury deepest stood right there in front of me, breathing the same air.
I took a step forward, and he stopped. He’d seen me, too.
The beginning of a smile curved his lips. Lips I knew all too well. Lips I hated.
But that didn’t stop me from taking another step forward. And another, until I stood right in front of him, still not convinced he wasn’t some sort of hallucination. It wasn’t until he reached out and slid hesitant arms around my rigid body that I knew he was real.
I had no intention of hugging him back, but my body had other ideas. The second my face pressed against his shoulder, every lie I’d told myself for the past year dissolved into the scent I’d know anywhere. I closed my eyes and wound myself around him, burying my nose in his shirt. The stiffness in his embrace melted away, and he crushed me against him.
“Hey,” he whispered against my hair. “It’s been a long time.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
LYM was everything I want in a YA story—a genuine, YA voice that not only resonates with my YA days, but makes me FEEL. So much of this story reminded me of my high school experience... it was real, it was honest and it wasn’t afraid to go places some books choose to censor. A huge high five to Ciocca for keeping it real. The ‘flashback’ writing style was awesome—it’s creates the kind of instant tension that has you turning pages well into the night. Great romance, great voice and great debut by Ciocca—this is an author to watch.
Loved every word.
I loved this book, it was very entertaining and i loved the chemistry between the characters. My fav character was Kelse because i ciuld relate to her a lot through out the story. I hope someone makes a movie iut of this book and also i would love to read a sequil of this amazing book! ;)
The cover is what drew me in. Kudos for the gorgeous cover! The characters were complex yet real at the same time. The story is universal--who doesn't want a second chance with their first love? Kelsey and David compliment each other very well as they navigate the perilous world of friendship, tragedy and love. Don't miss it!
This was one of those unexpected page-turner books for me, the kind where I sit down expecting to read a couple chapters, only to look up a couple hours later and realize that I've just finished the whole thing. LAST YEAR'S MISTAKE centers around Kelsey and David, a pair of childhood friends who fall gradually into love their freshmen year of high school, which is also the same year that David moves to Kelsey's town. By the end of the year and the start of the story, the two of them have had a major falling out that damages not only their burgeoning relationship, but their friendship as well. The story is told in alternating timelines, one for the past and another for the present, and that particular choice worked extraordinarily well at building suspense. Being able to see Kelsey and David come together and fall apart in two different scenarios provides a constant reminder that these characters can either be defined by their mistakes, or learn from them. Frankly, Kelsey and David both make a ton of mistakes, and that was one of the things I loved about them, and about the writing. The two of them fight and flirt and point fingers like crazy, but I never felt as though the bulk of the bad decisions fell squarely on one person. Both Kelsey and David are responsible for the turmoil between them, and watching the two of them figure out whether it would be possible to have any kind of a future together made for a deeply satisfying story. (Also satisfying: Those kissing in the rain scenes. Move over, Taylor Swift.)
I highly suspected that I would love this book, and I was right. It's the perfect combination of swoony romance and family drama. Plus I loved the setting - one of my favorite places to visit.
Last years mistake is such an amazing book. well written that you can imagine what the characters are doing, its one of those books where a reader gets mentally involed with the characters, and can't put the book down because it leaves you at the edge of your seat wanting to read more! I would so recommend it to anyone that is looking for a good book to read. :)
Great summer read.
I’ve been reading a lot of books lately with the alternating past and present chapters. I’m really a fan of this type of story. I love seeing the relationship between a set of people progress, while getting little glimpses into why it ended up the way it did. Kind of fits in with my second-chance romance obsession. :) This book had a fantastic flow between Before and After. I loved how flawlessly we jumped from one time frame to another. Sometimes books get confusing trying to remember which time period we’re talking about, but I never had that problem with this book. The story flowed very smoothly throughout. Also I loved the chemistry between the characters. Kelsey and David were fighting their feelings, but not very effectively. Their chemistry was intense! One scene in particular gave me goosebumps. The characters in this book were relateable and sincere — though a time a little frustrating. I found myself annoyed several times at the choices these characters made. Let’s just say I wanted to slap them both. Kelsey and David acted very childish and well below their age group several times during the story. Aside from their frustrating choice-making and immaturity, they were rather typical teenagers. I also really appreciated the strong parental figures in this story. I always appreciate a good father or mother to make a story better. All and all, I did enjoy this book. Other than the few issues I had, it kept my attention and was entertaining. This is what I would call a wonderful debut from an author I will be keeping my eye on for sure. I’m looking forward to seeing what type of story Gina Ciocca will come out with next.
3.5 Stars! I'll admit, based on that cover (which I LOVE) and that synopsis, I was expecting an edgy story about love, loss and second chances. And in a way that's what this was, but it was much lighter in tone. Kelsey and David--both of whom I liked AND wanted to shake some sense into---are relateable characters. In fact, Gina Ciocca gives readers an accurate representation of teenagers being teenagers and doing very teenagery things. Things like, making mistakes, misunderstanding intentions, reacting before thinking, and freaking out over stuff that really aren't as bad as they seem. But that's okay. Teenagers aren't supposed to have it all figured out yet. And Kesley and David sure don't. Kelsey's eagerness to give David "a pass" on their past bugged me a little. In all honesty, he was just as responsible for what happened in the moments before their communication breakdown as she was. If he really felt the way he did, why didn't he try harder? Pull out all the stops? Simple answer: He's a teenage boy. They aren't mind readers, much to the chagrin of every teenager girl in the history of ever. This may not have been exactly what I was expecting, but I really enjoyed it. It's well written, fast paced and the underlying themes of friendship, forgiveness and new beginnings made me smile. Read it. Fans of Sarah Dessan, Lauren Morrill and Lauren Barnhodlt will enjoy this.
So I picked up this book in the afternoon, and absolutely flew through it, and finished it before I went to bed. It's so sweet and utterly swoon-worthy, and the characters felt absolutely *real.* Even the side characters you're supposed to hate had levels, areas of grey, that made them all feel like real people. It's been a while since I rooted this hard for a couple to get together in a romance, and this one just kind of sweeps you away. If you're looking to get caught up in a love story, I highly, highly recommend this one.