Monday, June 15, 2015

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Series: Standalone
Published: June 16th, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
368 pages (eARC)
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult
Acquired this book: Via NetGalley in exchange for honest consideration
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Buy this book: Amazon || Chapters/Indigo}


{Read my review of Time Between Us ~ Read my review of Time After Time}

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 can’t remember the last time I felt compelled to stay up half the night to finish reading a book, but I did that with Every Last Word. I couldn’t put it down; I had to keep reading and find out how things would work out. When I finally finished at almost 3am, teary-eyed and smiley-faced, I had no regrets over losing a few hours of sleep. Every Last Word is incredible. It’s emotional and realistic and romantic and inspirational. I read Tamara Ireland Stone’s first two books, Time Between Us and Time After Time and while I thoroughly enjoyed them, it’s Every Last Word that has bumped her to my auto-buy list.

I connected with Sam early on and felt like I really understood her. Even though she started out kind of shallow and focused on superficial things, it was easy to understand in a way. She’d only ever known her small group of friends, all of whom were concerned with little more than makeup, clothes, boys, parties, and concerts. They were tight-knit, but it wasn’t necessarily about feeling a deep emotional connection or having a lot in common, it was the type of friendship that comes from convenience - they were thrown together at an early age and have known each other their whole lives. So because they’ve known nothing other than always being in each others’ pockets and wanting each others’ approval, Sam hasn’t ventured far outside that life. She likes what they like, does what they do, what they want, what they expect, and what they would approve of. But that’s not the real Sam. The real Sam is much deeper than that - she has interests of her own, she has a big heart, she has the capacity to be an amazing friend. It would be easy to say ‘get new friends’ or ‘leave the group’ but it’s not that simple. In high school, it can feel like you ARE who your friends are. Your friendships are part of your identity, good or bad. I completely understood her resistance to/fear of/uncertainty about leaving the group. I’m almost twice Sam’s age, but this was one way I really connected with her. For me, this has been a year of cutting toxic people from my life. A couple of those people are friends I’ve had my entire life. I wish them well and would be cordial to them if I ran into them, but I have no desire to have them in my life, spewing their negative toxicity and making me feel like I can never live up to their expectations. So this particular aspect of the plot hit close to home for me, because I could imagine how hard it was for Sam.

And then there was AJ. Oh AJ. *swoon* He was quiet and kind and gentle, a great friend, and just overall amazing. He and Sam were so good together. I loved the progression of their relationship from ‘not friends’ to friends to more. It was sweet and romantic and made me grin and swoon and even tear up. They were each exactly what the other needed, and they helped each other in so many ways, plus they had fantastic chemistry. 

I loved watching the changes in Sam and seeing her become her true self. She learned so much about life, friendship, love, and being true to yourself. She wanted so badly to be ‘normal’, to hide her OCD so people wouldn’t think differently of her. I appreciated and respected how her OCD was handled, and it was obvious the author had done her research (which she talks about at the end of the book in an Author’s Note). Sam really felt like a friend who was telling me about all the things happening in her life, and I was so, so proud of her progress and the things she learned. I enjoyed her therapy sessions, and I hope there will be people who truly need a book like this and need the encouragement to seek help. Sam shows that there’s no shame in getting professional help, and a therapist or a mentor or a doctor is there to help give you the tools to lead a fulfilling life.

Every Last Word is a beautiful, touching story. It deals with real life issues in a way that’s easy to empathize and connect with. It’s full of well-developed characters, emotion, and honesty. I’m grateful to Disney-Hyperion for granting me access to read this book early, and I’ll definitely be buying a copy for myself, because I know this is one of those rare books I’ll make time to read again. 

Have you read Every Last Word? What did you think? If you haven't read it, do you plan to? Have you read Tamara's other books? Have you ever read a book with a main character who has OCD? Let's talk here or on Twitter!

1 comment:

  1. This is the second raving review I've heard of this one. Looks like I need to check it out.


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