Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Published: June 16th, 2015
This ebook was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Synopsis: 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.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
"It wasn’t enough. But they heard every last word."
This book is really more of a 4.5, but I rounded it up to a 5.
Every Last Word tells the story of Sam, a high school girl who hides her OCD from her friends. As the school year starts she seems to be coping with her hidden struggles rather well, and with the help of her new friend Caroline she stumbles upon a secret poetry club. Words become an outlet for her struggles, and she realizes her friends, friends she is too scared to even tell her secret, may not be as close to her to her as she thinks.
I was so excited when I got this book from Netgalley, since I probably would have bought it or gotten it from the library when it came out anyway. There has been a fair bit of hype around this book, and I'm disappointed in myself for not reading it the second I got my hands on the e-ARC of it.
Some things I loved...
I really liked when we got to hear some of the student's poetry in the books. Each writer we heard had their own problems and topics they focused on, and each poem really touched me. The idea of an underground poetry club in a high school is totally appealing to me, and I wish I could have the type of bond the kids in the club did.
I also thought the book did a good job showing how people can cope with their disorders. Sam visited a therapist and had to take medication, but she still was her own person and was able to live her life. She had Pure-O OCD, meaning she wasn't the stereotypical neat-freak most people associate with OCD, but leaned more towards the obsessional part of the disorder. Sam has a fixation with the number three and (more towards the beginning of the book) has obsessive thoughts. The novel was largely Sam trying to deal with this, and it was the book's main conflict.
(highlight for spoiler) And the plot twist! The second Caroline said to Sam to tell AJ about her, it hit me. It was impossible for AJ not to know about Caroline, unless Caroline was never actually there. When AJ told us Caroline had killed herself, and it was clear she was just a figment of Sam's imagination, I was freaking out in my head! Every single scene with Caroline was just Sam talking to herself! Caroline showing Sam the club was just Sam finding them on her own! Caroline helping Sam write poems and deal with her OCD was just a coping mechanism for Sam! I had thought Sam was finally learning to live with her disorder, but it turned out in a way she was worse off than ever! Without a doubt, hands down, best part of the novel.
Some things I disliked...
I mentioned above how I loved the poems, and I wish there were more! This may be an unfair complaint, but every time the book would say something like "and then so-and-so read a poem about blah," I would feel a loss for the poem I would never hear. All of the teens were great poets, and how dare Stone rob me of my chance to hear their words!
Sam has a really toxic relationship with her old friends, who are honestly all horrible (with the possible exception of Hailey). They seem to be at the top of their school's social food chain, but even inside their group some people are more valued than others. The only reason Sam even stays with them is because she feels she has nowhere else to go. This set-up was fine to me, but I felt there wasn't enough pay-off. I had hoped Alexis (the head bitch) would find out about the poetry club and try to shut it down, or get mad at Sam for starting to drift off from their group. The group was a little pissed, but their was relatively little struggle when Sam left and started hanging out with people they looked down on or bullied in the past. There was a lot of build-up, and I wanted drama to go down!
Even though the book deals with heavy topics, it's relatively light. I would recommend to YA contemporary lovers in general.
Want another opinion? Here are some other reviews for Every Last Word (may contain spoilers):
Young Adult Hollywood
The Eater of Books
The Starry-Eyed Revue