Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Release date: June 16, 2015
This e-galley was provided by Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: 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.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Some of my favorite books are the ones I read during a hard time. That's one reason why The Start of Me and You is at the top of my favorites list. When it was finally time to read my e-galley of Every Last Word, I was struggling through my last three weeks of my first year of college. I didn't expect it to have such an impact. But it did.
Every Last Word is not the easiest read, just because your heart goes out to Sam and she also doesn't always make the best choices. But she's trying so hard to be normal and to not be crazy. I sympathized when she didn't want to leave her friend group because she worried she'd be ostracized. I smiled when she was falling for AJ. My heart ached during Alexis's birthday scene. I'm no poet, but I loved watching Sam learn to write, and I enjoyed hearing what the other Poet's Corner members wrote.
For those who are perhaps worrying that love saves Sam from her OCD... it doesn't. She does get somewhat better over the course of the book, but it's not just because she's fallen for AJ. It's also because of swimming, poetry, and the circle of friends she finds in the Poet's Corner. I don't remember most of the characters in the Poet's Corner, but I know Emily and Cameron dealt with some heavy stuff and Sydney was kind and I really hope she and Sam pursue a friendship beyond the events of Every Last Word. I really enjoyed every emotionally raw moment in the Poet's Corner, and it felt very right that Sam found them.
From a non-psychologist point-of-view, I think Tamara portrayed OCD and Purely-Obsessional OCD very well. Her author's note was very informative, as well.
The only problems I had with Every Last Word were the amount of foul language and the sexual content. The former was much heavier than in Tamara's previous books; the f-word is used a bit too frequently for my taste. And the latter, I felt like *SPOILER* Sam and AJ slept together a little too soon; in addition, I'm just not a fan of sex scenes that aren't fade-to-black *END SPOILER*.
The Verdict: This is a must-read. Possibly the best book I've read yet in 2015. Actually, there's no 'possibly' about it.
"'Everyone's got something. Some people are just better actors than others.'"
Will I be adding this book to my library?: YES.