I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Published by Disney-Hyperion on June 16th 2015
Genres: Coming of Age, Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Friendship, Girls & Women, Love & Romance, Mental Health Issues, Social Issues, Young Adult
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.
WHAT I LOVED…
I’ve never read anything that delves so deeply into mental illness in such an informative and respectful way. Sam was never portrayed as a villain, as so many mentally ill characters are in many books. I could relate to her, I felt for her and I understood what she was going through, even though I had never been through most of it myself. This book grabbed me from the beginning and never left go.
Early on in the book, Sam makes a new friend and this relationship is one of the most intriguing of the entire book. Caroline is everything Sam isn’t and provides a support system and motivates Sam to make some changes in her life. ‘Every Last Word’ is a story about the journey of self-discovery and so much of the changes Sam is making in her life are a direct result of Caroline’s encouragement. It was really fulfilling to see Sam break out of her shell, break free of the weight that was holding her down and begin to take charge of her own life. We all have that one friend in our life we can say anything to and who will love us unconditionally, and Caroline is that person for Sam.
Let’s talk for a second about AJ…ohhh AJ. He comes into Sam’s life at exactly the right moment and provides her with a sense of safety and normalcy as she embarks on her journey of self discovery. I will forever love him for the respect, understanding and affection he gives to Sam. He is her port in a storm and his quiet confidence made me swoon so hard. I mean, a creative, emotional guy who plays guitar and wears a beanie?! Like I said….swooon! He’s so much more than a surface level guy and I totally fell for him.
There is a really interesting twist to the book, that I figured out pretty early on. Although I knew what the end result would be, I still enjoyed the book, as it gave me a lot more insight as I read and made me connect with the characters even more. Sorry if I’m being a little vague, but I don’t want to spoil the twist for anyone because it is a very clever plot device and made the book even more meaningful.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK…
‘Every Last Word’ does a fantastic job of representing healthy and supportive friendships, which is one of the things I enjoyed so much about the book. However, there were a few characters in the book I had a really hard time with. I suppose they acted as a foil to Sam’s character, providing some foundation as to the changes she was going through in life. But I just couldn’t stand their “mean girl” attitudes and how poorly they treated Sam most of the time. So, I can’t really say it’s something that “didn’t work” for me in the book, it was just an aspect that I didn’t enjoy as much as the rest of the book. Which, I suppose, was the point.
MY “BOOK FEELS” MOMENT…
This entire book was one big emotional roller coaster. I found myself feeling everything Sam felt, and was invested in her story from page one. ‘Every Last Word’ is an important book, and tells an important story in such a respectful and informative way. I truly felt as if I gained a greater insight into someone living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and anxiety. This book made me cry and it made my heart hurt, but it also made me laugh and reminded me that the power of love and friendship is strong enough to face any battle.
Tamara Ireland Stone suggests several resources in her Author’s Note at the end of the book, one of which is TeenMentalHealth.org. I strongly encourage you to visit this website to learn more about mental health and how to care for those struggling with it or how to live with it yourself.
‘Every Last Word” is a powerful story about mental illness and the strength of a young woman ready to move beyond what holds her back.