Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
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.
I devoured this book in 2 days. I could not pull myself away. I stayed up until 12:30 AM finishing the book the second night. I never do that. It was just so good!
Sam is struggling with keeping her OCD a secret from everyone besides her family. More specifically she is struggling with going back to school after an amazing summer away. She has been in school with the same people since Kindergarten, and she can’t break away from her friends to be her true self. I love the idea of “Summer Sam”. I had a similar “camp me” growing up.
I adored the way Stone used writing poetry as a way for Sam to truly find herself and make some necessary changes in her life. I enjoyed reading about her opening up to her new friends. The writing was great! Stone really puts the reader inside Sam’s head, so much so that when she has short daydreams, I didn’t even know that they weren’t real until they were over. It was so fun!
I appreciated that this wasn’t just another YA illness book. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a lot of those books, and there are a lot, but this was refreshingly different. It had elements of instant friendship, which always gets me. But the theme of identity would apply to any reader.
Not to mention the romance! The love interest, AJ, is so adorable. He and Sam have such a healthy relationship.
The mom’s character was great too – at least in the beginning of the book. She sort of drops out of the story as Sam builds some new friendships, which was kind of sad.
I wasn’t on board with some elements of the ending, so I almost dropped my rating to 4 stars. But considering how quickly I flew through this book, I left it at 5.
“I don’t need to go away to reinvent myself. I’ve already been doing that.”
I did need to go away. When I moved to Milwaukee in 2002, “Camp Kate” finally became real live Kate, and it was wonderful.
My Rating: 5 Stars
Understand my ratings.