Every Last Word // Tamara Ireland Stone
genre: YA, contemporary, romance
rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
edition: hardcover, 368 pages
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.
Every Last Word was a jaw-dropping, heart-breaking novel about a girl who is trying to break out from the expectations she’s held to and become her true self. This was a wonderfully woven story that I loved and cried and laughed while reading. Here are a few of my thoughts.
Sam is your stereotypical popular “mean” girl – or so everyone thinks. Underneath it all, she has OCD. She’s constantly under the pressure of hiding it from the “Crazy Eights,” her elite circle of friends, so she will come off as “normal.” However, Sam befriends Caroline, a headstrong girl who couldn’t care less about the materialistic things Sam’s other friends covet. She’s lead into a secret room where the school’s outlaws, misfits, and daydreamers meet to share their hearts through poetry. I love the poetry concept. It added so much to the novel one stanza at a time, and brought the true side of each character throughout. The entire story is based off of Sam overcoming the voices in her head, falling in love for the first time, and finding a new path. The story wasn’t fast-paced. It was this slow, gradual build that allows you to get to know the characters, their struggles, and passions one by one.
I loved how all the characters were written and portrayed. Sam, AJ, and Caroline were my favorites. They all had great dynamics and impact on the storyline. Sam is especially relatable as she deals with the same teenage problems we all may have, like choosing your friends, having a crush, and accepting who you are. Sometimes, in a novel, a character like Sam can be watery and diluted. Often, they make the mental illness seem like flowers and sunshine compared to how it is in real life. I think Stone did a good job showing the reader a glimpse of what OCD may be like without being overwhelming and turning the book into a sad, depressing piece. I really loved seeing each of the characters grow from where they started at the beginning of the book.
“I didn’t go there looking for you. I went looking for me.” My voice is soft, low, and shaky. “But now, here you are, and somehow, in finding you, I think I’ve found myself.”
If Stone’s writing had a time signature and tempo, it’d be 6/8 and andante, or walking speed. The book is a swift, moving piece, but takes its time to build up tension and feelings. Stone writes with a delicate hand, yet with strong conviction.
The cover is beautiful. Props to the graphic designer to made it. And I love AJ and the fact he plays guitar (I’m a sucker for guys with musical talents).
So, yes, I proudly give Every Last Word a five out of five stars. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good romance to read. It’s not your typical cheesy love story, but possibly something even more worthwhile than that.
all the love,