Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland StoneEvery Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Published by Disney Hyperion on June 16, 2015
Pages: 368
Source: the publisher
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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.

The second I heard about Every Last Word, I knew I needed to get my hands on it. I’ve never read a book where the main character has OCD and it seemed unique, intriguing and – for me – a bit personal. I’m not ready to share why yet, but I found I was able to relate to Sam a LOT. To a certain extent, I felt like I was reading my own story. And reading this book made me feel less alone.

Sam was such a relatable character. Even without the OCD, who doesn’t feel like one person during summer and another during fall? Or like one person with one group of friends and another with a different group of friends? We’ve all had those moments. I know I have! So even if you don’t have OCD, you can still relate to Sam and a lot of the things she goes through.

And man, does she go through a lot of things. She has this huge, epic journey she goes through and the amount of growth she experiences from beginning to end is incredible. We see a whole new side of Sam every few chapters and it’s amazing to see her come out of her shell and be bold and brave. Whether she’s dealing with her OCD, trying to make new friends or learning to stand up to her old ones, she’s making progress and finding her voice. She’s brave and I adore her. She’s definitely one of my Top Favorite YA MC’s ever.

“Telling someone with OCD to stop obsessing about something is like telling someone who’s having an asthma attack to just breathe normally.” -Sam

Caroline was an amazing character and friend to Sam. She was exactly what Sam needed and she showed up when Sam needed her the most. She helped Sam step out of the shadows and become the person she was meant to be. She was the sympathetic ear, the shoulder to cry on, the confidence booster, the encouragement in the face of something terrifying – I could keep going here! Really, she was everything Sam needed and everything she wanted to be. She introduced Sam to Poet’s Corner, something that changed her life. And then the twist at the end… HOLY CRAP! Completely mind blown!!!!!! Like.. I almost stopped reading and started the book over again because I was so shocked and thrown and confused and WHOA!

“What you see… It isn’t me.” – Sam

And then there’s AJ! I absolutely adored AJ and I seriously shipped him and Sam! I loved the slow and steady progression of their friendship and relationship. It was so realistic and a breath of fresh air from all the insta-love – which I actually don’t mind (if it’s done right), but it’s still nice to see! I loved the way AJ evolved and the way he dealt with his problems. He was a very direct person and often said what he was thinking without holding back. I loved the way he was there for Sam, even after he found out the truth.

I really loved the members of Poet’s Corner – Sydney, Emily, Abigail, Chelsea, Jessica and Cameron (and of course Sam, AJ and Caroline). They were all awesome and unique in their own ways. Outside of Poet’s Corner, you might not even expect any of them to be friends. But Poet’s Corner was like their safe haven and they all opened up and became like a little family. It made me wish my high school had something like that when I was attending – it would have been nice to belong to a group that had my back.

I especially liked Sydney. She seemed like someone I could relate to, like someone I would have been friends with if I’d known her in school. Emily seemed really sweet, too. Despite all the stress she had at home, she was still a good friend and always there for the members of Poet’s Corner. Abigail’s poem (entitled “As If”) really moved me, as well.

On the opposite side of things, I really couldn’t stand the Eights – Alexis, Kaitlyn, Olivia and Hailee. I especially couldn’t stand Alexis and Kaitlyn and my dislike intensified during certain scenes. They were all just so sobby and superficial. Sam was good at hiding her OCD and I’m not saying they should have guessed what was wrong, but if they were true friends, they should have at least noticed that she was unhappy or upset, that something was bothering her. But it was always about them. When she was upset or doing things on her own, they’d accuse her of abandoning them and being selfish. Like, really? Great friends *Rolls eyes.* Alexis sort of redeemed herself in the end.. And Hailee wasn’t nearly as bad as any of them were at any given point in the book, plus she redeemed herself in the end for the few times she WAS just as bad as the others.

The ending of this book threw me into a complete tail-spin. I was mind-blown, shocked and fully prepared to re-read it immediately! The twist was huge and absolutely unexpected, but completely epic and insane. My feels were shattered multiple times and I just.. I just can’t. I can’t recommend this book enough. Whether you have OCD and need someone to relate to or don’t have OCD and just feel alone and like you’re hiding who you truly are from your friends – this book is a MUST read that I’ll never stop pushing on people.

Overall, if you couldn’t tell from my insanely fangirly review, this book was amazing. It was my first Tamara Ireland Stone book and I can assure you, it won’t be my last. I think this is one book I need to make sure I collect multiple copies of because I’ll for sure be re-reading it over and over! As I mentioned at the beginning of my review, it’s not easy to talk about myself or share personal things. But this book really hit close to home and I needed it. I needed to feel less alone and this book really helped me with that. So, Tamara: thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for writing this wonderful, amazing book!