I was really pleased when I got an email from Disney Book Group with a chance to read an advanced copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I have been dying to read this book, the description just sounded really captivating and, if written well, could serve as the next best YA novel. Let’s just say I will be extremely surprised if it isn’t!! Below is my review, plus a sneaky peak at the front cover and description and places to pre-order:
About The Book
‘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.
This YA novel is not like I expected it to be. When I first started reading it, I thought it was going to be just like any other teen book describing the events of a life ruled by mental illness. It is far from it! Tamara Ireland Stone has put a lot of thought and research into the writing of the novel, and focused not on how illnesses are perceived to define us as people, but how people with OCD or anxiety or depression or any sort of mental illness manage to cope throughout their everyday lives, how they use treatment to try and dull down their thoughts and live how they want to live.
In what I can only assume to be an American high school, the reader engages with Samantha McAllister, the protagonist and speaker of the narrative, who is living with Purely Obsessional OCD or Pure-O, where thoughts cloud her mind every second of every day, and the only way to keep it fairly controlled is with complex medication and weekly speech therapy. None of her friends in the ‘Crazy Eights’ know about her disorder, even though they are all the best of friends. Sam finds comfort when she meets Caroline who introduces her to poetry, and the reader gets to see Sam blossom and temporarily dim her thoughts, although they are still irritating and very much ever-present. She also meets AJ through poetry which is the best thing that has happened to her since the start of the school term. The events in the story are told to the reader, but, in my opinion, are not in any way predictable. I never expected the twists and turns the narrative took, especially towards the end of the novel. The plot was fast paced, keeping the reader constantly engaged, hence how I managed to finish the book in 3 days, but the author still managed to keep a logical order and made sure all threads added up in the end. I’m sure I’m not the only one who hates cliffhangers when they know there is no way of finding out the outcome!
I must admit, I think I have found my new fictional love! I want my very own AJ, the way he understands Sam and looks after her and has his own quirks and, even though they both are not perfect, they are perfect for each other. OK, soppy love sentence aside, AJ, I felt, was such a well written character, because nothing was ever fed to the reader about him. He starts as such a mysterious character, which just made me want to know more about him. As Sam uncovers his personality traits, the reader gets more of an insight into him as a character. Going on from my love of AJ’s character, the others were so perfectly structured to feel as if they belonged in the certain cliques of high school. The ‘Crazy Eights‘ are the obvious popular group, but have their own issues within the friendship group and the poetry writers are seen as strange and unsociable. The author has even got the way they all dress down to a tee!
I wouldn’t say the story kept me guessing, but there was never anything in my mind that could’ve guessed the twists in the narrative, I just assumed it was a simple plot line. I guess in a way that’s a good thing because when major story points come to life, they are unexpected and shock the reader. My favourite part of the book was probably one of the scenes with AJ in the swimming pool, because in those few paragraphs, I wasn’t worried about Sam and her thoughts, I wasn’t thinking about how AJ might be feeling. All that mattered was the two of them in the pool, and how happy they were together. There were some sad scenes, none that really brought me to tears, but some that made my feelings for the characters shoot through the roof, and some conversations were quite tense as well, hooking me on the words and not wanting to stop reading! There were a lot of points in the story, as well, where I learnt a lot about Sam’s disorder, and how people cope with mental illnesses when the have to try and go about life like nothing is wrong. It must be terrible knowing that people go through those feelings!
In conclusion, this book was quite a shock to the system for me. I was expecting a good book, but I was glued to every last word of the book (< sorry, that was a bad pun)! I’m not sure it would be a book for adults, but more suited to Teens and Young Adults, as they will find it a lot easier to relate to the characters and the where the books take place. I have no doubt when I say this book will be the next big thing in YA fiction when it is released later this year!
My Rating: 5 Muffins out of 5
Update! Tamara Ireland Stone, the author of this book, has read this review on Goodreads and has liked it! This isnt much but it means a lot to me that an author has read my review of their book!
Where To Pre-Order
If you like the sound of the book, here is where you can pre-order the book to get it when it goes on sale on June 16th this year (including, but not limited to):
(not available to pre-order in a lot of places, but watch out for it around the release date in June to get your hands on this amazing book!)
Cover photo and description taken from Goodreads (view book profile here)