Category Archives: The Next to Last Mistake

Review: The Next to Last Mistake by Amalie Jahn

Title: The Next to Last Mistake by Amalie Jahn
Publisher: Light Messages Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: 286 pages
Book Rating: B

Complimentary Review Copy Provided by Publisher Through NetGalley


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 societal challenges she encounters and becomes convinced she’ll never fit in with the students at her new school.

When Leonetta Jackson is assigned as her mentor, she becomes Tess’s unexpected guide through the winding labyrinth of cultural 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?


The Next to Last Mistake by Amalie Jahn is an insightful  young adult novel that touches on important societal issues.

Tess Goodwin loves life on her family’s Iowa dairy farm. She genuinely enjoys her chores and she loves their small herd of cows.  Tess is also quite close to her next door neighbor and best friend, Zander. Her life takes an unexpected turn when her veteran father reenlists in the military, sells the farm and moves the family to North Carolina.

Tess’s concerns about going to a new school are unfounded since she is paired with Leonetta Jackson who shows her around school. Despite having little in common, she and Leonetta are soon best friends.  Their friendship quickly expands to include two other young women, Alice and Summer. For the first time, Tess is also exposed to a racially diverse environment where she is stunned to see her friends experience racial injustice. Tess is a little insensitive with some of her remarks and observations, but instead of taking offense, her friends help her understand how very different her life is from theirs.

The Next to Last Mistake is an engaging novel that is sweet and thought-provoking. Despite missing the farm and Zander, Tess embraces her new experiences which broaden her horizons and her worldview. The friendships are endearing and the racial diversity and subsequent discussions are informative. Amalie Jahn brings to the novel to a rather  poignant yet realistic conclusion. I greatly enjoyed and highly recommend this fast-paced young adult novel to readers of all ages.

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Filed under Amalie Jahn, Contemporary, Light Messages Publishing, Rated B+, Review, The Next to Last Mistake, Young Adult