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.