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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.
~ARC provided by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review~
This is the first book I’ve requested from NetGallery, and I’m so glad that they accepted. I’m not a big fan of contemporary YA novels- to be honest, they bore me. But I’ve enjoyed Tamara Ireland Stone’s previous novels,so when I read the description for this, it sounded interesting. And it was.
The main character Sam was diagnosed with OCD as a child, and she’s been hiding it from her friends ever since- worried that her ‘perfect’ friends would find out that she isn’t like them. She keeps it well hidden, trying to be as ‘Normal’ as possible.Tamara Ireland Stone does a decent job of making Sam real. Her portrayal of OCD felt truthful, and it was obvious that she spent some time researching the topic and taking great care in depicting the struggles that Sam must go through. The novel was engaging and I felt an intensity I truly didn’t expect. Her relationship with her therapist as one of my favourite through the book. She’s a strong presence in Sam’s life, and is such an amazing character.
Sam also meets Caroline who introduces her to the Poet’s Corner. A place hidden beneath the school where a small group of students meet, sharing their burdens in the form of poems. This gives Sam an outlet, and soon becomes more confident and comfortable here. It felt right seeing her happy when she spends so much of her time miserable.
I loved the development between Sam and AJ, but I didn’t like their story. Sam used to bully AJ. This wasn’t just childish jokes, it was extreme bullying to a point where he just stopped speaking and wasn’t until he found music/poems as a way to speak again. This is probably the reason it didn’t get a 5 from me. The way it dealt with the issue of bullying was completely false. Sam may not be a bully, but she does so out of peer pressure.. Bullying is a very serious issue, and this book does not give weight to it. It glosses over the fact that Sam was a bully, peer pressure or not, it was still unacceptable. She feels bad about it, but there is never any feeling of sincerity upon her reflection into it.
Overall, Every Last Word seems like a typical contemporary book but it was enjoyable.