Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Release Date: June 16th 2015
Page Count: 368
Format: eBook (ARC provided by NetGalley)
“Still, I can hear this one thought hiding in the dark corners of my mind. It doesn’t attack like the others, but it’s frightening in a totally different way. Because it’s the one that never leaves. And it’s the one that scares me most. What if I’m crazy?”
I remember seeing Every Last Word on a couple of “Most Anticipated New Releases of 2015” lists earlier this year and what grabbed my attention about it at first was the simple and beautiful front cover. I became even more intrigued after I read the synopsis. I tend to browse through NetGalley every once in a while and as soon as I noticed Every Last Word I immediately submitted a request. Of course, not every request you make will be accepted so I was extremely excited and happy as my request had been approved making it my first approval through NetGalley!
Goodreads Synopsis: 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.
Surely there have been many young adult novels that deal with teenagers and a variety of mental illnesses, but it seems as though stories of this nature are becoming more popular and talked about recently. I think that this is something that is extremely positive and beneficial, with teenagers especially. There are many novels being released lately that a lot of people are able to relate to on a personal level and I think that Every Last Word is going to be added to that list for many readers.
In this case, our main character and narrator Samantha, has had to deal with her OCD diagnosis ever since she was eleven years old. She starts out as being very insecure about herself, but with the help of her new and secret friend Caroline, she begins to break out of her shell. Caroline is carefree and down to earth and she possesses a lot of personality attributes that Sam wishes she had. I loved the character of Caroline for many reasons and she complimented Sam in ways you will only understand by reading this story. Caroline must be kept a secret as Samantha is part of a popular friend circle nicknamed the Crazy 8s that she has been friends with since they were all in kindergarten. The Eights can be cruel at times and Samantha feels that due to Caroline’s lack of popularity, they wouldn’t be keen on adding her to their circle. Also, because of Sam’s fear of being kicked out of her group of friends, the Eight’s also have no clue about Sam’s OCD diagnosis. The Eights were the characters that I disliked the most. They were constantly bringing Sam down and the fact that Sam couldn’t see it was extremely frustrating.
Sam is later introduced into Poet’s Corner, a secret poetry club that is known only to a few select students. It is here that we meet A.J., a boy that instantly intrigues Sam. A.J. was very well written and I liked his interactions with Sam and the rest of Poet’s Corner and I feel as though the reader gets to learn a lot about his past and what brought him to Poet’s Corner. It is in this secret poetry club where we are introduced to some other minor characters such as Sydney, Emily and Cameron. I really liked the addition of these other characters but I really do wish that we got to learn a little bit more about them.
The moments in the story that involved Poet’s Corner gave off a Dead Poets Society vibe. The only thing that was missing was a charming and eccentric professor. There were a lot of elements that were very similar to the film, but it also had it’s fair share of differences. It felt more like an homage and that it was inspired by the film rather than a direct copy.
There were elements to this story that were very unexpected and surprising that I personally did not see coming. I can’t even talk about it because that would spoil it for everyone. What started out as something that felt familiar and a little recycled ended up catching me completely off guard.
Rather than just having these characters be a part of a Poetry Club and taking the easy way out by just explaining that they were reading their poems to one another, they were actually written out for the reader to enjoy. I really liked that aspect of this novel and I think it definitely showed the author’s commitment to this story.
Overall, I think a lot of people are going to really enjoy this book and are going to be able to relate to at least one, if not many, of the very relatable characters.
Once again, I would like to thank NetGalley for providing me with this novel.