Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Review: 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'm a big fan of Tamara's writing, I absolutely loved both Time Between Us and Time After Time you can read my review for Time Between Us here. I just knew I would love Every Last Word but what I didn't know was that it would absolutely blow my mind the way it did!
Every Last Word touches into so many things it's hard to pick a place to start, so I'll start at the beginning.
Samantha McAllister is in high school and has a great family and is part of the popular crowd in school, at first glance she is a normal teenager living a normal teenagers' life.

This is though what Sam wants everyone to see while she hides what's really going on inside her head. Sam has Pure-Obsessional OCD.  We've all heard about OCD, met people with OCD even, and we often think of OCD as rituals people have, obsessive behaviors such as washing your hands 10 times a day. Pure-O OCD is very similar though the compulsions and obsessions happen mainly internally. The person is tortured with non-stop thoughts that often make them feel like they are psychotic or even evil. This is Sam's daily battle with herself. 

It's not uncommon to want to hide your flaws, specially when you are in high school. Sam has had this same group of friends since Kindergarten and they are her BFFs, but they are a toxic crowd a bit venomous even. Think mean girls and that's Sam's group of friends, they are unforgiving and judgmental. The kind of friends you always have to worry about impressing to stay in their good grace. 

So when Sam meets Caroline, she is immediately drawn to her. Caroline is different, she wears no make up, doesn't worry about what others' think about her outfit. She is like a breath of fresh air, no judgement, just friendship. For the first time Sam feels comfortable enough sharing her secret with someone and tells her about her OCD. Sam tells Caroline about her struggle and weekly sessions with Dr. Sue, her psychiatrist. Caroline understands though because she has lived through something very similar.
Caroline takes her to meet some friends of hers, who get together in a hidden room under the school theater. This group calls themselves Poet's Corner and little did Sam know,  this group of outcasts would change her life forever. 

It's in Poet's Corner that she will meet AJ and I think I can tell you she likes him a little bit ;) AJ doesn't like her right away though, he actually has a lot of animosity against Sam and she can't figure out why. What she doesn't know is that she's met AJ before just doesn't remember.
Being part of this group and becoming friends with all of them, including AJ, helps Sam to start discovering a side of herself she had only seen glimpses of and she starts accepting who she is and seeing the good in the bad. Being able to write down her feelings and thoughts and share them with others that appreciate it, became in way a type of therapy.

Did I mention AJ plays the guitar and writes poetry? Talk about perfect boy! Besides being hot obviously, he is also kind and forgiving. AJ will be a big part in Sam discovering a new way to live her life and accept the way her brain works and stop letting her OCD rule everything.


"After you left 
I remembered how you felt in my arms.
How you fit so perfectly there. Like my guitar.
Wondering if I should have kissed you when I 
had the chance."

Sam will soon realize that she needs to come clean with her old friends about her new friends, and decide whether it's time to move on and accept that she has outgrown that friendship. Her new friends, especially Caroline have given her a sense of acceptance and she is for the first time feeling normal. Normal is great, normal is what she has been striving for, but then a devastating revelation will shake her to the core, make her question everything and put her back at the beginning. 

This book was absolutely compelling, emotional and thought provoking. It's not just another story about another teenager in high school, Sam could be anyone. People that deal with their thoughts at work, or with family and just in every day life and suffer in silence. 

Every Last Word teaches us many lessons. The first one is to know when to cut toxic relationships out of your life, whether it's friends or a boyfriend, when you have tried and nothing changes and it becomes detrimental it's time to let go, no matter how hard it may be. The second is to learn to accept yourself with all your flaws, if people don't like you or accept you as you are, then they are probably not worth having in your life anyway. Those that love you despite your flaws are the people you want to surround yourself with. Third, ask for forgiveness when you've wronged someone, even if you think they will not forgive you, still reach out and say "I'm sorry" and mean it, 10 times out of 10 you will feel better. And the last is don't suffer in silence, look for help. Reach out to a friend, family member, counseling group or teacher. There is always help out there and people going through the same thing you are, all is not lost and there absolutely is a light at the end of the tunnel. Always. 

A story that will stay with you long after you've turned the last page and characters that will remind you that friendship can be a very powerful support system. A story that teaches you to always be kind to others because you never know what demons they may be fighting.

Thanks to Disney Hyperion for the review copy!

Add Every Last Word to your TBR on Goodreads HERE and order your copy today HERE I promise you are gonna love this book!

If you or someone you know is struggling with OCD, anxiety of depression, or any other mental health concern, there are wonderful people out there waiting for you to reach out. Here are some helpful links:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:


Tamara Ireland Stone is the author of Time After Time and Time Between Us (Hyperion Teens), which has been published in over twenty countries to widespread acclaim, and hailed as “an exciting debut novel” by Booklist and “a warm, time bending romance” by Publishers Weekly. It has been optioned for film by CBS Films.
A former Silicon Valley marketing executive, Tamara enjoys skiing, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two children. She lives just outside of San Francisco.

Tamara's Social Media Links:

No comments:

Post a Comment