Monday, September 21, 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.

Rating: 5 stars


Samantha: It might be difficult at first to know whether or not you're supposed to like Samantha. Sure she's the main character, but she's part of the "mean girl" clique at school. Usually we're led to believe that these girls are vain, shallow, and cruel to anyone that is not part of their group. While this may be true in the beginning for some of her friends, Samantha is actually a decent person, albeit one with a dark secret: she suffers from an obsessive disorder that makes life next to unbearable.

I found her to be a ridiculously strong character. High school is difficult enough, but with a disorder like this and all the trouble that comes with it, she somehow manages to keep it a secret from her friends. Looking back on it, of course keeping a secret like this is terrible and her friends aren't worth if it they'd treat her badly because of it, but for someone in high school, image can be everything, so I understand how she felt regarding the situation.

The Poet's Corner: these characters were all unique in their difficulties, but all brought together by their love of writing. In high school I would have given anything to have the comraderie they seem to share.


This is sort of a difficult area because there wasn't a clear villain, exactly, though there were some "characters" that added to the difficulty of Samantha's journey.

Mean Girls: these are the friends that Samantha has grown up with and fits in with the best, despite some of them being horrible people. They were a little cliche in their meanness, I'll admit. Samantha herself states that she doesn't agree fully with their bullying of other classmates, but she goes along with it out of peer pressure. I can't remember coming across someone in real life that was like Samantha in this instance. The bullies that I dealt with were jerks through and through, but in the story, at least there is hope for some of the girls. Even if they wouldn't turn out like this in real life, at least in fiction we can hope for the best and see it begin to come true.

OCD: I am not very familiar with OCD as a realistic disease, so I am not sure to what degree what Samantha suffered is real. It was, however, presented in a overpowering and ever present way that made me believe, for the course of the book, that I could understand how Samantha was feeling, if only for a little bit.


Imagery wasn't a part of the novel that I really noticed as anything extraordinary, perhaps because it took place in the real world and it was an everyday sort of place, unlike if it were a fantasy novel. I knew, or at least could hazard a guess, what the place looked like without having to have it painted out for me.


I found the writing to be fairly streamlined. It was a fairly quick read. The prose was catchy enough to be interesting without too much going on, and it left off in good places at the end of chapters so that I wanted to continue.


There was a fairly big surprise for Samantha toward the end that, while devastating, I was at least starting to guess midway through the book. It was an interesting choice for the author to make. In the course of the story I found it plausible, though a bit sad as the person involved in this revelation was a character that I had really felt happy with.


There are times when this novel can feel a bit dark because of the panic and terror that Samantha feels, but it is well worth the emotional journey that she and you as the reader will undertake.

Music Recommendation

Lindsey Stirling's Shatter Me made me think of Samantha's situation: being the perfect girl, trying to hide the darkness that she felt eating away at her.

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