Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Published by: Disney Hyperion
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
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.
Honestly, I didn’t think I was in the mood for this book, so it took a lot for me to actually pick it up. The only thing that pushed me to do so, was the fact that Tamara Ireland Stone is the author. I loved her Time Between Us series, so I knew I had to at least try. Turns out, I shouldn’t have been so hesitant. Every Last Word is a really good book that I found myself enthusiastically invested in!
Sam has had the same group of best friends since kindergarten. She calls them the Crazy Eights, even though they’re down to five. These are the people she should feel the most at ease around; the people she should be able to trust and be herself with. What she mostly feels around them is anxiety and out of place. She hides her OCD from them – from everyone. Until she meets Caroline. Sam slowly begins to make new friends, find a new passion in poetry, and learns to remove the mask and discover who she really is.
The author did a fantastic job with Sam’s character. I love the transformation she went through, which wasn’t easy. As mentioned, she has OCD. It was really interesting getting her thought process and how she would work through her issues.
Strong friendship is one of my favorite themes in a book, so I really enjoyed the journey Sam went on when it came to this. She began to realize that just because she’s been friends with certain people for years, doesn’t mean the relationships are healthy. When she meets Caroline and the rest of the poetry group, her layers began to peel away, revealing a Sam she’s only just discovering herself. And she learns what true, healthy friendships entail.
The romance is so good! It has such a great balance and doesn’t consume the story. And there’s no ‘fixing’ each other. Yes, AJ becomes a positive influence, but it’s wonderfully realistic and sweet.
I absolutely love that Sam’s therapist, Sue, is such an instrumental factor in this book. She’s not just some prop, she’s truly involved and they have an outstanding rapport. And even though her parents don’t have a lot of page time, they still have a strong presence and make an impact when they do. Well, her mom does, anyway.
Also, I love the addition of music and/or poetry, it tends to take the story to a deeper level for me. So it was really nice how poetry played such a big role in Sam’s transformation, and how it impacted her life.
Okay, so there is a little extra … something I won’t say, but I probably would have picked the book up sooner had I known. I caught on almost immediately, and I have to say, it made everything a lot more interesting. And even though I was privy to what was going on, it still felt really emotional when it was revealed.
Overall, Every Last Word is wonderful book, very touching and insightful. It’s definitely another winner from Tamara Ireland Stone!