Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Series: Stand-alone Novel
Publisher: Disney – Hyperion
Publication Date: 6/16/15
Read All About It:
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.
Every Last Word deals with a type of mental illness I have not seen represented before in books. OCD is occasionally seen in movies, but to narrow it down by showing readers how purely-obsessional OCD can affect Sam creates a much more personal and realistic view of what it would be like to have that specific mental illness (although, I’m sure it is not the same for every one).
Sam’s ability to come to realizations about herself is one of the two things I like most about this book. While her therapist and parents do have an impression on her, it is ultimately Sam who is able to come to conclusions on her own about what is good for her and what is not. She is a considerate and caring, which make it easy to like her, but she is also written in a way that shows her vulnerability in the beginning and the strength she gains throughout as she becomes more like “Summer Sam.” Plus I adored that the title fit into Sam’s three word obsession.
Besides loving Sam as a character, Poet’s Corner sounds amazing! A secret, comfy room at school sounds awesome, especially because it is such a safe space for all of the characters. It reminded me of an intimate open mic night. This was my second favorite part of the book because it created depth within the other characters that made Sam’s friends in the beginning seem even more fake.
There were a few times I thought the book seemed a bit unrealistic or hard to believe. For example the fact Sam always swims in lane three (the two middle lanes at meets are for each team’s fastest swimmer and Sam said she wasn’t the fastest from her team) and a couple of the plot twist elements were hard to believe, but for the most part they were easy to look past which made this book a good, quick read.