Monday, June 15, 2015

Title: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Series: stand-alone
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Source: received from publisher via Netgalley
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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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.

I read this book at the end of May, and I really thought by now that I'd have words to describe how much I enjoyed the novel, but I still find myself at a loss. This won't be the most articulate review I've written, but it'll at least convey how much I loved the book. I've always been kind of fascinated by OCD -- mostly because I've always wondered if I'm mildly afflicted -- but it's also a really scary topic to approach. I loved Stone's time travel series an awful lot, so I decided to be brave and give Every Last Word a chance. And it left me feeling all the things.

I don't honestly know anyone who suffers from OCD, so I don't know exactly how true-to-life Sam's experiences and mannerisms are, but they felt genuine. They reminded me a little of some of my own habits, and they felt right for her character. And I love how she interacted with the ragtag group in Poet's Corner, after they finally accepted her into their sanctuary. Those misfits were a much nicer crowd than her childhood friends, and they embraced her as she was, knowing that she hadn't always been the nicest person. But the fact that she was branching out, finding new people and new passions, showed tremendous growth on her part.

And all it took was Caroline. She gave Sam the courage to seek the Poet's Corner kids out, to start writing again. Even if she still couldn't tell her other friends about it. That bit probably bothered me the most, how much stock Sam put into not making waves, even though she and her therapist both knew that ending her toxic friendships was in her best interest. I mean, she was afraid to even tell them that she was dating someone, for fear of what they might think. Those are not healthy relationships, especially for someone who's already a bit unbalanced.

The romance in this book was pretty prominent, but it never felt heavy-handed, nor did it take the emphasis off Sam and her diagnosis. It had such a sweet beginning and I was rooting for them, for Sam to finally trust AJ enough to tell him the secret she'd hidden from everyone else. Her other friends, I could see why she wouldn't want to confide in them, but AJ was different. He'd been tormented by Sam and her friends as a kid and had issues of his own, and overcoming that and still falling for his childhood tormentor showed a lot of character on his part.

This novel was flowing wonderfully and I was in a happy place, and then at about three-quarters into the story, BAM. The twist. I usually pride myself on knowing where a story is going, even when it makes a book predictable, but I have to admit, I did not see that one coming. At least, not until right before it happened. I'm rather impressed.

Sam's plight was emotionally gripping and I just loved this one SO much. I laughed. I cried. I empathized. I wish I could read it over again for the first time. It was just so heartfelt and beautiful, poignant and lovely, and I can't wait for everyone else to be as moved by it as I was.

GIF it to me straight:

About the author:

TAMARA IRELAND STONE is the author of Time After Time and Time Between Us, which has been published in over twenty countries to widespread acclaim, and hailed as "an exciting debut novel" by Booklist and "a warm, time bending romance" by Publishers Weekly. It has been optioned for film by CBS Films.

Her next novel, Every Last Word, is about a teen girl with OCD who's hiding part of herself from the world, until she discovers a secret poetry club that changes her in unexpected ways. Every Last Word releases on June 16, 2015.

A former Silicon Valley marketing executive, Tamara enjoys skiing, hiking, and spending time with her husband and two children. She lives just outside of San Francisco.

Find Tamara:

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1 comment:

  1. I wasn't sure if I wanted to pick this one up when I read the blurb, but now that I've read your review I have changed my mind! Now I definitely want to give this one a try. I don't know anyone who has OCD either, but it seems very interesting.

    I'm curious about the romance as well, epsecially because it is related to bullying and such. Great review!


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