Title: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Genre: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health
Format: Purchased Hardcover
If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.
Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can’t turn off.
Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn’t help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she’d be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam’s weekly visits to her psychiatrist.
Caroline introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more “normal” than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.
This book hit me right in the feels so many times. I loved it so much.
The story is one that starts off with Sam obsessively thinking negative thoughts with her friends over, ultimately resulting in an anxiety attack. Her mother is there to help her regain control and her sister also helps to distract Sam’s friends because Sam doesn’t want them to know about her mental health problem. She’s a different person when she’s on school vacation – often referred to by her and her therapist, Sue, as Summer Sam – in that she’s happier, more confident, not as obsessive, but still some of the urges take over. It’s when school starts up again that things start to get a bit difficult for her and she is having difficulty with her friends.
And then she meets Caroline and things just kind of go from there.
I thought that Tamara Ireland Stone really captured what it’s like to have OCD in this book because she didn’t glorify it but showed that, yes, sometimes it can suck and sometimes it can take over someone’s life. But it’s also something that can be treated and regain control over. Sam’s OCD was really heavy in the beginning of the book, but as the book continued and she found an outlet in which she could express herself without a total fear of judgement – the Poet’s Corner – her impulses and obsessive behavior became less and less. I found it to be a real portrayal of this type of mental illness.
Not only that, I found Sam to be very relatable. I understood a lot of what she was going through to an extent, and I found that she was dealing with a lot of what was happening to her and around her in realistic ways. The fear she had of potentially losing her friends that she’s had since kindergarten terrified her, and of those same friends learning of her condition scared her, too. She would obsess over the number three and would do a lot of things in threes: scratch the back of her neck in three when she was stressed or nervous, park the car when the odometer had a three in it, and so on.
I thought that she felt like a real high school student just going through her life trying to live as normally as possible.
Her friendship with Caroline was a blossoming one and one in which she had no fear of being herself in. She could talk and open up about anything and everything under the sun. Caroline even showed her the way down to the Poet’s Corner, where she ran into a few people who really didn’t want to see her, but she managed to grow on them over time.
She discovered what true friendship and what a toxic friendship looks like and that it’s okay to branch out and meet new people. I loved this part about her and the book, that she finally became brave enough to stand up for herself.
And then her relationship with AJ felt natural and progressive. It wasn’t insta-love in any way, and their relationship felt healthy. They both understood what it was like to feel like they needed an escape, a place where they could belong, and I think the poetry really helped them to open up to one another given their past circumstances.
Also the relationship with her parents, though subtle, was there and it was a positive one. Her parents and sister were not only there for her in her time of need, but they made her feel normal and helped her to ground back to reality when her OCD took over and would cause a panic attack. But they didn’t make her feel normal by ignoring the issue: they faced it head on and in a positive, effective way, and I thought that that was so important.
Honestly, I loved the poetry in this, too, and thought that this book showed that it’s okay to use your words and be creative. Writing poetry is a wonderful outlet for anyone, especially teens, to really talk about what’s on their mind without needing to speak at all.
I loved the message in this book, to not be afraid to use your words and be yourself. It’s okay if you’re flawed. If there are people who can’t accept you for both your flaws and perfections, then they don’t deserve to be in your life.
Such a wonderful, fantastic book. I read it in one sitting because I just couldn’t stop.
I rate this 5/5 stars and highly recommend it.