Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Published by Disney-Hyperion on June 16th 2015
Pages: 368
Source:Copy provided by publisher for review, via Netgalley

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.


Here’s the deal: I really enjoyed this book. This book gave me some really intense feels, especially since I can very much relate, on a personal level, to the obsessive thoughts that Sam has. Also, Sam is a swimmer, and my heart kind of melts when I get to read about swimming in books. I can almost smell the chlorine. There are also some really great characters in this book other than Sam, and her mom is quite involved too, which is always a huge plus for me. Basically, nearly everything was on par for this book to be an absolute win for me, but one thing held me back. The worst part it that I can’t even fully tell you what it  is, which makes reviewing this book just a bit problematic, no?the-campaign-its-a-mess

Well, there is far more good than not-so-good in this book, so let’s just start there. Like I said, Sam is a fabulous character, and I could not help but root for her. She wants to badly to be “normal” (even though I don’t think there is such a thing), and wants to just fit in with her friends and not have obsessive thoughts. She goes to this amazing counselor, and honestly, I was jealous! Where can I find a Shrink Sue? During the summer, Sam feels more like herself, more free to be who she is, and she and Sue call it “Summer Sam”. When school starts again, her insanely rude group of friends basically demand that Sam be flawless all the time, which has to be tiring for anyone, let alone someone struggling with a mental health issue. The “Crazy Eights” are the worst. Also, there aren’t even 8 of them. So when they are busy bullying and making fun of people… maybe they need to take a little trip to the mirror.

At first I was kind of mad at Sam for even wanting to still be friends with them but… she’s a teenager, in high school. I get it. Anyway, she meets a new friend, Caroline, who she doesn’t ever introduce to the Eights. Caroline, however, introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, and there Sam finds not only a new emotional outlet, but a whole new group of friends. You know, the kind who don’t judge and belittle and you’d actually want to hang out with. I adored this group, because they seemed quite diverse but they still were able to come together for each other. They listened to each other’s art without judgment or critique, and they were all so free to express themselves there. And there’s a boy. A.J. had been the victim of one of the Eights’ lovely bullying escapades, and he is reluctant at first to even be friends with Sam. But soon a friendship blossoms and then… well you know 😉  A.J. is a lovely romantic interest for Sam, because he is pretty much the opposite of a lot of the things in her life that had been dragging her down. The romance was slow and swoony, and I approve. ezgif-1332639612

But there’s this… thing that happens. A twist toward the end, that to me seemed incredibly unrealistic. I am not saying that this twisty situation can’t ever happen in reality, but it just… didn’t work for me. At all. No, let me rephrase that: It worked beautifully for the purpose of telling a good story, and for a good plot. But for me, it simply didn’t work in a practical or psychological aspect.

Overall, the mental health piece of this book was very well done and very well researched, and I think it sheds a great light on the topic of obsessive thoughts. I have tried to explain this type of thought to friends and family but have been at a complete loss for how to explain it. I think Every Last Word achieved that, putting words to Sam’s thoughts in an absolutely lovely way. I just feel that the twist sacrificed a bit of the honesty of the issue for plot value. Don’t get me wrong, I had all sorts of emotions, especially toward the end, and I didn’t dislike the twist from a reading perspective, just from a psychological one.

Bottom Line: This was a very good book that did an overall great job of tackling mental illness. The characters were very well written, especially Sam. Her struggles felt very genuine, and the author did a fabulous job of putting words to Sam’s obsessions. Making Sam a fleshed out character and not just a product of her illness was fabulous. If not for my hesitation with the twist, this would have been perfect. As it stands, it is still definitely worth reading, especially since I don’t think the twist will bother everyone as much as it did me.

Do you like to read or write poetry? (My mind doesn’t seem to “get” most poetry!)

Posted June 12, 2015 by Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight in Mental Health, Review , / 15 Comments

15 responses to “Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

  1. I’m with you on this one Shannon, I thought this was a very good overall but that twist came out of nowhere.. It didn’t interest me at all, and it just fell flat for me because I’m not sure how that even related to the story. Nonetheless, the author’s tackle on mental illness and disorders was well done though, great review as always 🙂

  2. I like writing poems. Most of them I wrote while dealing with depression so they are very dark. I liked ELW a lot but I had two problems: the Crazy Eights and that twist at the end. It definitely took me by surprise, and like you said, it could happen in real life but usually it is diagnosed as something else and not brushed it off. I know it’s a story so that’s why I didn’t pay much mind to it. Great review, Shannon!

    • Aw, that is a really great way of getting your feelings out. Much better than my way of (not) coping which just involves copious amounts of tears. YESSSS that is it- it WOULD be diagnosed as something altogether different (and I don’t want to say what in case someone reads this comment- but as I am reading your review, I see that you are a psychology major, so you know what I mean 😉 )

  3. I WANT TO READ THIS. Because, dangit, Shannon, I come to your blog and want to read ALL THE BOOKS. But pfft, why is that even a bad thing? I kind of had my eye on this one but I hadn’t heard much about it AND NOW I’M SOLD. I like it when stories about MI are told well and I like awesome characters and great writing. I’m totally iffy on that plot twist though. 🙁 I read a book with an unbelievable plot twist for the ending and it kind of spoiled the whole thing for me. bUT I WILL BE BRAVE AND READ THIS REGARDLESS. *awards self cake for bravery*

    • Hahahha well, it is payback for all the books I have found on yours, of course! 😀 Also, I am curious about what your take on the plot twist will be. I think some people were totally fine with it. It obviously didn’t RUIN the book for me, I just… I don’t love it.

      And please, consume the cake rewards!

  4. I actually found the twist perfect. In my mind, something like that can happen and I read it like Samantha always had the strength to speak out and find new friends so her mind created a way to do that. It was really warm for me because I could relate on a personal level however we’re all entitled to our opinions 🙂

    Great review!

    • I guess it CAN happen, of course, it just is quite unlikely. I feel like that would have given her an entirely new diagnosis, you know? I mean, I DO think the mental illness was handled very well, and I did love the book. I think a lot of people will be fine with the twist like you are, which is a good thing, because the book is overall very good 😀

  5. Sam does sound like a really great character (and agree, what is normal anyway?) And yay for the awesome counselor, I’ve only ever seen one, but she wasn’t that helpful. But yikes her friends sound awful. And exactly, yeah, she is a teenager, and she does just want to fit in, so going along with that is realistic (even if we don’t agree with it.) I’m totally adoring the new set of friends. But, uhm, that twist? Not looking forward to that, I mean, sacrificing something psychologically realistic for the plot, I do not approve of. 🙁
    Ha, I neither like reading or writing poetry (my worst part of English, just ugh) but lyrics? I’m there.

  6. I recently added this one to my TBR because well, I fell in love after all the brilliant reviews for this one. And I like the idea of having a parent take a role in the story. I mean, finally. The parents are usually always absent >.> But it’s a shame that twist didn’t work out for you and ruined the end a bit for you…

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