Monday, June 22, 2015

Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

368 pages
Expected publication: June 16th, 2015 
Published by: Disney-Hyperion
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: 4/5
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 have to start off by saying that this book is gorgeous. The prose is haunting and the unreliable main character keeps things interesting. YA needs more books about mental illness so I'm glad that this one is such a good representation of that kind of struggle. I had some minor issues with it but I'll get to those in a second.

Samantha suffers from OCD and anxiety. She's constantly counting and has a number of triggers but keeps everything bottled up...until she meets Caroline. She introduces her to Poet's Corner, which is basically a secret society of, well, poets. What follows is a battle between darkness and light. One that you can't make bets on because everything is so up in the air. 

I'm not entirely sure why but I kept getting this annoying itch to write while reading this. Maybe I found it inspirational? Who knows. Anyway, what I loved the most about this is that it makes you feel like there's something missing---like you're not getting all the facts. You know there's something off about Caroline the minute you meet her. Plus, you can't trust anything Samantha thinks/sees/feels/etc. This is the case with another book I read recently, Made You Up by by Francesca Zappia. I read them practically back-to-back so I can say that they are very similar in that sense. I have to confess that I found it kind of boring at times but then it would pick up again and I had to know what was going to happen next. Also, this is kind of personal, but her anxiety really made me uncomfortable. I suffer from it and reading those scenes was very difficult. So, keep that in mind if you think this is a trigger for you. 

Overall, I'm glad I read this book. Even though I didn't like being in Samantha's head, I learned a lot about mental illness through her eyes.

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