by: Amalie Jahn
Published by:Light Messages Publishing
Genres:Young Adult, Contemporary
Setting: Iowa, Fort Bragg North Carolina
Format: PDF file
Source: Author (via YA Books Central)
Tess Goodwin’s life in rural Iowa is sheltered and uncomplicated. Although she chooses to spend most of her free time playing chess with her best friend Zander, the farm-boy from next door, her skills as a bovine midwife and tractor mechanic ensure that she fits in with the other kids at East Chester High. But when her veteran father reenlists in the Army, moving her family halfway across the country to North Carolina, Tess is forced out of her comfort zone into a world she knows nothing about.
Tess approaches the move as she would a new game of chess, plotting her course through the unfamiliar reality of her new life. While heeding Zander’s long-distance advice for making new friends and strategizing a means to endure her dad’s imminent deployment to the Middle East, she quickly discovers how ill-equipped she is to navigate the challenges she encounters and becomes convinced she’ll never fit in at her new school.
When Leonetta Jackson is assigned as her mentor, she becomes Tess’s unexpected guide through the winding labyrinth of disparities between them, sparking a tentative friendship and challenging Tess to confront her reluctant nature. As the pieces move across the board of her upended life, will Tess find the acceptance she so desperately desires?
“Victory goes to the player who makes the next to last mistake. During a game of chess, you can make mistakes along the way and still come out ahead as long as you learn from that misstep and adjust accordingly.”
Tess’s bucolic life is uprooted when her dad decides to reenlist in the army.
When her family relocates to North Carolina, she leaves behind her beloved farm, her best friend Zander, and the only way of life she is ever known.
I first got a taste of this story when I read the prequel in ‘Mistletoe and Magic’. It was such a wonderful slice of life story about friendship and first love. It gave a glance into the underrepresented (in YA at least) view of farm life in America. Having loved the short story I couldn’t wait to find out what happened to Tess.
There were so many topics in ‘The Next to Last Mistake’, that can apply to so many people. The biggies are first love, adapting to new places, military life, making new friends, meeting and making friends who are diverse. (I loved Tess’s friend group she makes in North Carolina).
As a character I loved Tess. She was a little naïve in the beginning but her character is so loveable. She is a chess-loving, nerd who is good at history and literature but bad at math. I loved how much she loved animals and how she was defensive of her friends. She was also upfront about her fears and shortcomings.
I thought it was great how Jahn portrayed Tess and her sister’s relationship. They are close but also constantly at each other’s throats as most teenage siblings are. There is also a twist that I didn’t see coming and ripped out my heart.
‘The Next to Last Mistake’ is a wonderful and refreshing look at how many teenagers struggle through new situations (with a beautiful cover by the way). Amazing characters, unique plot, interesting relationships make this a great read. I definitely would love a sequel and I can’t wait to see where Tess’ life takes her.
A coming of age novel about leaving behind everything you love but being open to new beginnings. #Friendship #Militaryfamilies #Iowa #Firstlove Click To Tweet