Thursday, July 15, 2021

ARC Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

 




Blurb:

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.

Published: 6/6/15
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

My Review:
I want to thank NetGalley and Little Brown Books for Young Readers for providing me with a copy of this book to read and review.
I'm always thrilled when a book about mental health is put out on the market. There are so many stigmas that go along with mental health issues, especially in the teen population, and I like to see authors delving into those subjects to shed light on the fact they exist.
Samantha has OCD. She has thoughts that invade her mind and a hard time controlling them and not acting on impulse. She has learned to deal with the thoughts through behavioral therapy but sometimes that does not seem to be enough.
Sam's group of friends do not know about her condition. And she wants to keep it that way as she feels they would not understand and may cast her out for it. Sam spends much of this book under the stress of trying to appear "perfect" because she feels without The Eights would be more harmful to her. So she keeps her secrets.
Until one day she finds an outlet: poetry.
This book had a Colleen Hoover Slammed vibe to me. The poetry group Sam finds helps her to find words to deal with her condition. This, along with her therapy she has been having for years, and her swimming, awaken in her a feeling of power and control.
Of course a YA book would not be a true contemporary without a hint of romance. Sam meets AJ through poets corner. But they have a past she can't seem to remember. When it is revealed, she is set on apologizing and winning back his trust. Of course she does more than that. I will be honest, I didn't truly need the romance in this book. I think it would have worked as a great friendship and have had the same effect. I liked AJ, but I do think he was quick to forgive and then fall for the girl that hurt him.
Overall, this was a quick read with a lot of growth and development that happened with Sam. She learns how to become her true self and also how to have more of a balance in her life not always needing to show only her perfect side to the friends she's had for years.
I will say the pace was a bit slow. I feel like Sam spent a lot of time brooding which did not lend well to show us how her condition was truly affecting her life. 
My favorite relationship was with her and her therapist. I did love how the author made that a forefront in the book and how the connection she had with is represented in a healthy light (rather than the stigma so many seem to think it is).
Coming from a healthcare background, I'm happy to see this author delve into such an issue and show the true nature of what it is like to live with a mental health disorder and how hard it is to deal with, especially as a teenager.


TAMARA IRELAND STONE spent nearly two decades in the technology industry before she began writing middle grade and young adult fiction. She feels lucky to say she's had two careers she's loved.

Her New York Times bestseller, EVERY LAST WORD, won the Cybils Young Adult Fiction Award, the Georgia Peach Book Award, and was a YALSA Teens' Top Ten pick; LITTLE DO WE KNOW won the NCIBA Golden Poppy Award for Young Adult Fiction; and her debut novel, TIME BETWEEN US, has been published in over twenty languages. The first book in her middle-grade series, CLICK'D, was a Sunshine State Young Readers Award pick, a Kids' Indie Next pick, a Cybils Award Nominee, and an NCIBA Golden Poppy nominee.

Tamara is a proud nerd, vinyl collector, and movie lover. She burns everything she cooks.

She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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