Every Last Word
by Tamara Ireland Stone
Published: 16th June 2015
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’d like to begin by quickly thanking Netgalley and the team at Disney-Hyperion for kindly sending me an e-arc of this book. I’d seen it floating around Booktube and I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this book. As you can see from the blurb, Every Last Word, follows our protagonist Sam as she struggles to hide her OCD from the people around her. I’ve never read anything about a character suffering with this disorder, and I found it to be quite engaging and interesting.
Let me tell you, I was absolutely gripped by this book – I’d started to read it at midnight, my eyes stung with sleep deprivation, but I just kept reading regardless. I’d read 50% before I had to force myself to put this book down, mainly because I would have passed out. My first thought when I woke up was reading this book – and I finished the rest of it in one sitting. This doesn’t happen to me unless I really loved a book, so much so that I drop everything I’m doing until I’ve finished the last page. If this isn’t an indicator about my feelings towards this book, then I don’t know how else to convey them. I loved this book so much, and it’s a rave review from me.
Sam isn’t immediately a likeable character, but I suspect this is because she’s dealing with a lot and she’s a product of the plastic friends she mates around with. Her character development throughout this novel is some of the strongest I’ve read, and she became someone I would have loved to know in real life. I loved all of the characters in this book, particularly those that she meets in the Poet Corner. Each character is individual, quirky and each had an impact on me in their own way. I loved getting to know them through their poems or interactions. Along with Sam, my favourites were AJ and Caroline. These two characters, coupled with Sam’s journey, really brought this book to life.
The premise of this book is fascinating; I loved getting inside the head of someone that is dealing with something I have no clue about. I felt the author portrayed the disorder perfectly, and I felt like I understood it more – especially away from the stereotypes people associate with the disorder. Every Last Word really sheds light on the way mental illness can affect people, and that those people still feel like the cannot share it. There’s a negative stigma surrounding mental illness, and I love that this book really explains that it’s okay to be whoever you are, and that you need to find acceptance in yourself before you care about what others think.
I sat down to write this review as soon as I finished reading it, and I’m worried now that I haven’t given this book the justice it deserves. It made me laugh, smile and even cry at times. It shocked me, it wasn’t predictable at all – and most of all it has left a lasting impression on me. You won’t be surprised when you see this in my favourites for this year. In fact, this would make the top 10 of all time for me.
I cannot stress enough how much you need to read this book. It’s a remarkable read.