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Friday, June 12, 2015

[ARC REVIEW] Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Every Last Word

Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Expected Publication: June 16th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
ARC Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Pre-order from: Amazon | Book Depository | Barnes & Noble
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.

Rating

My thoughts

*I received an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to Disney-Hyperion and Netgalley.*

Every Last Word is one of the highly anticipated releases in June, and because of this, my expectations for this book were sky-high. Not to mention that the author has already established her name and has two successful books under her belt. The first time I saw this on Netgalley, I just knew I would fell in love with it. This book had me at "Purely-Obsessional OCD" and if you don't know already, contemporaries with tough issues are my thing. Every Last Word DID NOT DISAPPOINT. This book is so beautiful in so many levels.

I liked how the different relationships in the book are portrayed. First, Samantha's interaction with Shrink Sue. I mean, I've never read a book before where the character actually enjoys and looks forward to talking to her psychiatrist. Every Last Word is a breath of fresh air in this aspect. And then the friendship between Sam and Caroline. It's such a beautiful thing. Caroline brings out the better side of Samantha when they're together – the side that only a few people see. With Caroline, Samantha can be just Sam. And their friendship opened up a lot of doors for Samantha. The same with her relationship with AJ. The romance was a bit rushed although I must admit that it's sweet and swoony. What I would have wanted to see more was Samantha's relationship with her family. The book began with a pretty intense scene and Sam's mother was there to help her. I liked that she has a really supportive family, but aside from a few interactions, I didn't see the family dynamics that I admired at the start of the book.



There's also some remarkable character development here. Samantha went from being a scared and unsure person to someone who isn't afraid to speak her mind. She still has OCD, but she has learned to master herself and her thoughts. I also want to talk about AJ even though we didn't see/experience his character growth. I liked the fact that from a stuttering kid who can barely say his name, AJ became this cool and nice guy with the help of music. What I liked the most about AJ are his openness and spontaneity. He says what's on his mind and he's honest. He's not perfect, but he's adorable in his own way.

I've always been curious about OCD and books that tackle this condition immediately grab my attention. I don't know why. I don't have it or know anyone who has it so I have zero experience on OCD. And then I came across this one review on Goodreads. The reviewer says that she has the same OCD that Samantha has and that Every Last Word's take on the condition is real and authentic. The amount of research that Stone put into this book is really astounding to achieve that level of authenticity. It shows the respect she has for people with OCD and the mental health specialists who work with them.

There are a lot of things going on – Sam's OCD, swimming, therapy, the Eights, the Poets, Caroline – but somehow, Stone managed to get everything to work together without it feeling too cluttered and heavy with different stuff. I've never read the author's other books but judging from how she wrote Every Last Word, I bet I won't be disappointed if I ever decide to read them. What a brilliant writer!

The poetry's a nice touch, too. It gave Sam an outlet to express her thoughts, and at the same time, opened her up to other people. The poems are amazing, hilarious and heartbreaking, not just Sam's but other Poets' as well.

And that plot twist! Oh wow, I really didn't see that coming. Although when I overcame the surprise and thought about it, I guess it only makes sense. Ironically, Sam's OCD gave her something so beautiful that it's almost unreal. I don't want to be spoilery so just read the book, will ya?
Every Last Word has a dark and intense story that will tug at your heartstrings and blow your mind. It's really strong on the friendship aspect, and that's my favorite part of the book. Amazing, amazing, amazing! Another book has joined the list of my 2015 favorites.
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Julie @ Books and Insomnia

Julie is a Filipina blogger who pretends she has insomnia so she can stay up late reading. When she's not buried in books, she can be found watching anime, drinking chocolate-flavored instant coffee, lurking on the internet, daydreaming and talking about herself in third person. She loves purple and anything sweet!

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