The Next to Last Mis­take

Foreword Reviews - - Spotlight Reviews Young Adult - CATHER­INE THURESON

Amalie Jahn, Light Mes­sages (MARCH) Soft­cover $15.99 (286pp), 978-1-61153-264-7

Amalie Jahn’s The Next to Last Mis­take is an in­sight­ful story about love and friend­ship.

Tess Good­win is happy with her life as a farm girl in Iowa. She is con­tent with her cows, her chess club, and most im­por­tantly, her best friend, Zan­der. But her happy life is turned up­side down when her vet­eran fa­ther reen­lists and moves the fam­ily to North Carolina.

The dis­cus­sions of com­plex so­cial is­sues in the story are both beau­ti­ful and re­mark­able. Tess is sure she will not fit in, but an­other stu­dent, Leonetta, is as­signed to help Tess ad­just at her new high school. Leonetta be­comes the first of three amaz­ing new friends.

In North Carolina, Tess is ex­posed to is­sues sur­round­ing race for the first time, and her new friend­ships are based as much on sup­port­ing each other as they are on all that the girls have in com­mon. Tess comes to re­al­ize that ac­knowl­edg­ing and ex­plor­ing our dif­fer­ences can be a won­der­ful way to learn and grow; the les­son is in­cor­po­rated nat­u­rally.

Lessons on grow­ing up and ac­cept­ing change are just as seam­less and pro­found. Tess’s fears about mov­ing and fit­ting in are sym­pa­thetic. De­spite her dif­fi­cul­ties, she learns a great deal and dis­cov­ers that her new life may have more to of­fer than she re­al­ized. Her fam­ily and her new friends are pa­tient and sup­port­ive as she nav­i­gates the un­fa­mil­iar land­scape. Her long­ing for Zan­der never fades, but their dis­tance helps her to de­fine and un­der­stand their friend­ship on a new level. She comes to rec­og­nize the im­por­tance of al­low­ing this re­la­tion­ship to ma­ture.

The Next to Last Mis­take is a poignant and sweet story of love, loss, dis­cov­ery, and the en­dur­ing bonds of friend­ship.

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