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.
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What I Loved:
I was not expecting to love Every Last Word as much as I did. I’ve been in a contemporary slump lately where every one I read I enjoy, but I don’t have super strong feelings about them. I found Every Last Word to be a breath of fresh air in the genre.
I instantly connected to Sam. Everyone has something they want to hide, even from their closest friends, and I empathized with her desire to keep her secret from her glittery, popular clique. She also just wants to feel “normal,” something that I struggled with in high school as well. Sam felt so real to me because all of her emotions felt familiar, like they could’ve been a part of mine or my friends’ high school lives.
I also adored her new-found friends in Poet’s Corner. Every one was so unique and yet they all shared these secret poetry sessions that made them into a family. Poet’s Corner is an escape, but it’s also where you find your true self, and I wish we had had something similar in my school. Hell, even now I would want to join a secret poetry club!
I think it’s so important that stories like Sam’s are given a bigger place in mainstream media. Every Last Word is a story about living with a mental illness. Sam has a therapist, she takes medication, and her parents are trained on how to handle situations when Sam feels overwhelmed or out of control. She has a set treatment plan that works (and that she and her therapist worked on together and continue to develop as Sam grows), and a therapist who is portrayed in a positive light and I think that all of that is so important. Sam struggles throughout the book with the idea of “normal.” She wants to feel that way and doesn’t see herself as such. But by the end, she realizes that there are all kinds of “normal.”
The Final Verdict:
Every Last Word is an emotional, realistic, and important contemporary YA novel that every reader should get their hands on.
So Many Feels
Every Last Word is a truly beautiful book and it definitely is on the top of the list for contemporary books. This book touches on some really serious topics like anxiety disorders and mental illness, but I thought that Tamara Ireland Stone did it beautifully.
The main character, Sam, has OCD, an anxiety disorder. Tamara Ireland Stone does a fantastic job showing how anxiety can affect a person, not only just their life but also the people around them. She not only shows the external struggles that people can see, but goes deep into the internal struggles a person goes through. She shows the reader what many people never have a chance to realize. The struggle to fend off the dark thoughts and to function everyday so that not only do other people see her as normal, but that she can also feel “normal”.
The most unique aspect of Every Last Word is how Stone weaves poetry into the storyline. The poetry opens the windows to the characters’ hearts and gives a depth to characters that you just can’t get with simple characterization. I felt every emotion with this book!
Every Last Word grabs you from the very first page and doesn't let go. It’s a must read for anyone’s contemporary list for the summer. Bring it to the beach- share it with a friend. It is a book you do not want to miss.
Realistic portrayal of OCD and anxiety disorders.
Emtional and real - hooked from first to last page
Every Last Word tells the story of high-school junior Samantha – Sam. She suffers from Purely-Obsessive OCD but doesn’t want anybody to find out about it. She’s part of this group of popular girls, her so called ‘friends’ she’s known since middle school. But even from them, Sam hides a secret.
The story starts off with a flashback of an event that Sam doesn’t really wants to be reminded of. It’s the kind of flashback that makes shivers run down your spine. The flashback was a thrilling start and just made a point: this book will have you hooked until the end. I mean, seriously: the flashback at the beginning is genius. It will get you, as a reader, immediately involved with the story.
The flashback is only one chapter, so the second chapter is about Samantha, being obsessed with the number three. When she’s driving and has to park, the odometer has to be at three, or she will just drive another block just to make sure the three pops up when she shuts down the motor. And this is just one of the examples of OCD that Tamara describes perfectly in the book. Until this very moment, I didn’t really have an insight into OCD. It’s a pretty complicated mental health disorder but I think Tamara has put down a realistic character that speaks for a lot of people suffering from this disease.
The story really elaborates the struggles with her disease, as she finds out that keeping it a secret from her so called friends is pretty hard. But then she finds the Poet’s Corner and Caroline, and everything seems fine for a while – until at 4/5 of the book when a MAJOR plot twist will hit you. You won’t see it coming and it will make you emotional.
Every Last Word really knows how to depict a teenager’s life: school work, family, sports and relations with friends and boyfriends. Even though there must’ve been a thousand books written about teenagers and high school, this one seems to stand out because of its reality. This reality forms a connection with Sam’s mind. In literary terms, one could call it ‘the stream of consciousness’, in which you can follow the thoughts of a character. This was a big part of Every Last Word, and even though it sounds complicated, Tamara really elaborates the subject and adds a little bit of humor to lighten up such a ‘dark’ (mind me saying that Tamara also points out that having OCD, means you’re brain is special, not crazy?!) mental disorder.
I’m trying really hard to come up with something that I thought could’ve made the book even better, but I don’t think anything should be changed about either the book or the character Sam. Sam is a lovely character and you will find yourself rooting for her. She’s real, she’s honest and you will feel the conflict in her mind, as if it’s your own battle.
Every Last Word has been, so far, the best and most emotional read of 2015 – it got me hooked from the very first page. I found myself laughing and even crying real tears at the end of the book. This story has a special place in my heart.
- honest main character you will love immediately
An Emotional Read
When approaching a new book that deals with a character and mental illness, I'm always cautious. With people romanticizing mental illness around the world, it makes me extremely suspicious of books like this. However, I was still interested in reading this and was glad to be able to finally pick it up after having it spend months on my shelf. I had literally bought it from Barnes & Noble only to stick it on my shelf for a future read. It's a habit of mine, apparently.
Anyway. Every Last Word is a moving story that follows Sam, a teen that suffers from OCD and other conditions that can severely impact someone's every day life. Ms. Stone does a wonderful job to shape every single character in this book; each one was well crafted -- even the minor characters, causing them all to be so believable.
The story itself was an emotional rollercoaster with a mind-bending twist that threw me completely off and only made me tear up. For those looking to read this book; the twist happens, blows your mind, and doesn't let go until the very end.
I've seen a few reviews around talking about it being slow paced and at times, it was, but other than that, it seemed to flow well and in a timely matter in my opinion.
In all honesty, I really enjoyed this book and I would rate it higher than I am now if it weren't for one thing. Behind the mask of this computer, I, myself, suffer from a mental illness... Depression, if we're getting technical. And though I do not personally suffer from OCD, I know how hard it is to change your way of thinking... to open up and talk, to feel normal. Unfortunately, I also know how consistent it is in ruining everyday life. I can only assume that OCD is just as consistent as depression; never once leaving the person and always in the back of their mind. After reading the book, I've noticed that her OCD and her uncontrollable thoughts weren't consistent.
On top of that, no one can just miraculously stop someone from experiencing the effects of mental illness. My own boyfriend (I love him to death, seriously) can't even do that and I still struggle every day through it. They may numb the pain, but it's only temporary and no one can fix someone else's mental illness. That is what is wrong with a majority of the books containing characters suffering from mental illness; MC suffers from mental illness, in comes cute boy, boy changes life, boy gets rid of all MC's suffering. If this were true, I would have been cured -- a lot of people would, but unfortunately, it's completely unrealistic and setting the "example" to people that you can fix someone like that. Please know that this does not mean you can't help someone... because you can. Kindness and empathy will help more than you know.
Overall, the book was a great, emotional read and I had a good time reading it. In fact, I couldn't really put it down because I was already emotionally invested in it. Even with the flaws I pointed out, I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading it again in the future (yep, one of those books).
Amazing with a mindblowing conclusion
This book was really something I didn't expect. I thought it would be one of those unworthy of your time type of books but it wasn't. The way if captures how teens are nowadays was really relatable.
I Longed for a Poet's Corner
I would have given anything to have a Poet's Corner in high school. Stone should be so proud of writing such a thoughtful book. I was captivated until the very last word.