Title: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Pages: Hardcover; 368
Release Date: June 16, 2016
Content Screening: Nothing of note
HDB Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart
Recommended to: Readers who want to delve deep into a character with Purely-Obsessive OCD.
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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.
I really need to learn not to read books like Every Last Word on the train ride to work. Or at the very least, I need to always have sunglasses to hide my weepy eyes. Tamara Ireland Stone has written an amazing book. It deals with OCD, with what real friendship is, and even with acceptance. Acceptance not just from the people around you, but from yourself. I found myself completely caught up in this book from the moment I finished the first page. I'll warn you now that when you pick this up, you should definitely have some tissues handy.
This is the story of Samantha McAllister. A pretty girl, with a loving family, a popular set of friends, and Purely-Obsessional OCD. I fell for Samantha pretty hard once I recognized her dilemma. How do you be the perfectly put together popular girl, and secretly harbor dark and obsessive thoughts? How do you keep a pristine outer shell, and hide the fact that every moment of every day is filled with keeping your true self hidden? I felt for her. Highschool is a tough enough place anyway. Dealing with all of this only makes it harder.
Now I have to admit that this is pretty much a fairy-tale in the way that it's told. While Every Last Word deals with a lot of tough topics, and does it quite well, there is an overall sense of sweetness to the whole thing. I ate it up, and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way, but I do think people will notice this. Sam's friends, despite being with her for a long time, don't know about her illness. Her family is perfect. Her therapist is perfect. Even the new friends, and the adorable boy, are all perfect. If you can set that aside, and focus on Sam as a growing character, you'll love this book. If you focus solely on those things, it might be a different experience.
Getting back to the overall story though, I happily lost myself in Sam's life. I watched as she grew to love herself. My eyes teared up as she found a set of friends who accepted her for who she was, and made her a stronger person. I may or may not have actually cried a bit when Sam poured her heart onto the page, in the form of poetry. Even the little romance here had me giddy. I very much enjoyed my time spent with Sam.
If you enjoy poetry, and the idea that it allows people to share things that are difficult for them otherwise, you'll love this book. If you enjoy stories where good things happen, and the protagonist learns a lot, you'll enjoy this book. I love all of those things, and so I really loved Every Last Word. I highly recommend it.
FTC Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. I was not monetarily compensated for my opinion.