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.
Publishes in US: June 16th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: ya contemp mental illness
Source: arc from Disney
Also by Tamara that I've reviewed: Time Between Us and Time After Time
Author stalk away: Website / Facebook /Twitter
I wanted to read Every Last Word because I am drawn to books with mental illness. I deal with it myself, and though my main issues are bipolar and anxiety, I do have touches of OCD. For example, I have a parking spot, and if that's taken a parking row at the stores I frequent, and I have a bite ratio where I eat in a way to have a certain amount of each or at least top 3 to have last bites in order of preference. I also get trapped in some thought cycles, so I can say with personal experience that Every Last Word is well researched and her disease is realistic.
Samantha is an easy character to like and for me to empathize with. She has popular friends, and though she constantly worries about her position in their personal heirarchy, and that they'll find out about her disease. I loved it when she meets Caroline, who is more of a normal person (i.e. not super popular, but has her own group of friends that are connected by interests-- and mostly, not in the spotlight like her current group is.) And they are also more genuine. Sam sometimes talks with her therapist about them and her psychiatrist urges her to expand her circle of friends.
I liked Sam's mom. She is very in touch with what her daughter deals with, and will step in and knows the right things to say and do to help break the cycle. She is so supportive and amazing. Some parents don't understand and don't try to, leaning on yelling or telling the child to get over it, its all in your head (which it is, but not that way).
I did like the addition of her being a swimmer. It is a place that she is centered and not constantly analyzing. It is something that she loved and hopes to get a scholarship for.
I will also admit that while I love the idea of the Poet's Corner, and the comraderie that they share, and how they welcome Sam in-- I skimmed a lot of the poems and lyrics. It isn't that they are bad or anything, that is just not my thing to read, which is why many of you readers know, that I skip books written in these formats.
The romance in this one was sweet, and I like how she had to first admit to and apologize for some huge mistakes that really hurt someone else. I liked the guy in question, although I do wish that she would have been more upfront to begin with about her illness when it became clear they were heading into the more than friends category.
I love the growth in Sam, and how she starts to stand up for herself more, and make choices because she wants to not because she was afraid of upsetting the balance with her friends or to stay in her spot where she pretends so much, but she thinks she is comfortable. She makes such big steps, but growth, especially when dealing with mental illnesses can always be two steps forward and one back, or maybe even leaps back before more recovery and growth can happen again.
Oh my. I just got to the huge twist, and I totally did not see that coming. Um. Yeah. It just blew my mind, and I wish that I had a blogger reading this on speed dial right now. Because dude. That was intense... Maybe it shocked me so much because I didn't see it coming and I thought that I was informed with the mental health issues, and I should have seen it coming. But I didn't.
I loved the ending, it was so fitting and perfect for the book. What an emotional journey, but loved every second of it.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Do you have any repetitive behaviors or thoughts?