Title: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Daniela’s rating: 4 stars
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.
This book has been sitting on my kindle app for AGES. Like, I bought it so long ago, I usually forgot it was even there. A couple of days ago, I was going through the books I do have (I’m trying to read those, instead of getting new books) and I saw it and I thought: “why not?”
And man, I’m so happy I did.
Well, we all know the story of the super popular girl, with the group of friends everyone hates but secretly wants to have. These are the known mean girls who pick on everyone they feel are “below them”, so basically everyone. And in this particular group we have one particular girl. Her name is Samantha and she has this secret she’s been keeping from her so-called friends since a pretty young age. So far she’s managed to keep everything between her family. No one knows about it and she plans to keep it that way, but every day is turning out to be even more exhausting than the last. The lies and excuses are, not only tiring her, but driving her away from her friends.
Some people say that sometimes it’s easier to trust an outsider, a complete stranger, than the people you’ve known forever. Sometimes they have a whole new perspective on things, on life, you hadn’t taken into consideration. Sometimes it’s just easier because there’s no judgement. And I think that’s what happens to Samantha, Sam. She finally meets someone she feels she can trust and not only that, but encourages her to leave her comfort zone and explore new things. Things that might change her life.
This book surprised me. I wasn’t expecting it and I enjoyed it so much. I read somewhere, in a review, I think, that the book treated mental illness with respect. I don’t know much about OCD, and I’m sure it can be as deep as the ocean, but I truly believe Tamara Ireland Stone managed to give the topic the respect it deserves, not treating it lightly or making it sound shallow. Sam is a girl who’s been diagnosed with OCD since she was 10 or 11 and the way she expresses her needs, frustrations, and thoughts felt so troublesome. Like, I could see her pain and her frustration and the need to feel normal, and it made me realise that yes, it’s more than just wanting everything to be clean, or something like that. There’s such a huge universe behind the OCD label we don’t know. Of course, it’s not like the book dwells on the topic itself, I’m sure there are a bunch of things left unsaid, but those that were said, felt completely realistic. So, applause to you, Tamara.
One of the things I loved about this book was the possibility of new things and the poetry, which go hand in hand. Sam is invited to explore this whole new side of her, one she didn’t know existed until she met Caroline, her new friend. We’re so focused on the things we know and are so scared of those we don’t that we usually don’t take many risks. And I loved that Sam gave herself the chance to not only explore her writing, but gave herself the opportunity to meet new people, to see the world differently and understand that there are a thousand other things you can do and it doesn’t mean they have to be exclusive. There’s such an amazing development when it comes to Sam’s character and I loved and felt so proud of her throughout the entire book.
The romance in this book has an important role and it’s totally swoon worthy because AJ is just gorgeous, but it’s not as important, or it didn’t feel as important as the relationship that grew between a bunch of people that were so completely different, but somehow made it work. I loved seeing and feeling the trust that existed in this group, each character giving a part of their soul every time they shared a little bit of their lives, trusting and believing and loving each of them, no judgement, no laughs. This was one of my favourite things of the story, the contrast between two kinds of friendship: one that was entirely toxic and one that was exactly what Sam needed.
I could say the pace of the book is kind of fast. I read it in just a couple of days, because I just couldn’t put it down. The book wrapped itself around me and didn’t let me leave it. Not that I wanted to. There were a fews things that I felt were left unexplained, like what happened to the Crazy Eight? Why wasn’t Sam’s dad more involved in her life? So it kind of left me with a couple of loose ends. But overall, it was SO, SO, SO good.
Recently I’ve read some books that try to include some “mystery” or some “action” into the story, closer to the end, but in those cases, they felt forced, like they didn’t belong. With Every Last Word, every little piece fit perfectly. There were some twists in the story that I was not actually expecting them, so when they came I was completely blown away. Like I said, it fit perfectly with the story.
I totally recommend this book.