Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Bad News - Lori's Review of EVERY LAST WORD by Tamara Ireland Stone

Title: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: 6/9/2015
Source: ARC from Publisher through 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.

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. For more information, visit her website

Love. Love. Love. Every Last Word is a fantastic young adult novel, but it is also so much more. It deals with some very heavy stuff and I thought it was a great way to let teenagers know that being different doesn't equal being wrong. Tamara Ireland Stone did an amazing job showcasing OCD and sharing the healing power of words.

Samantha works hard to fit in with her 'friends'. Despite the harmful thoughts that often flood her mind, Samantha has everyone fooled into believing that she has everything under control. Her therapist is proud of Samantha for branching out and making a new friend at school this year. Her old circle of friends at school are the very embodiment of 'mean girls' and as much as Samantha hates to cross them, she is coming to rely on the friendship of her new friend, Caroline, more and more. 

Caroline is not afraid to talk about the hard things. She is very free to share about her past and her battles with depression. She makes Samantha feel like maybe it's okay to not be just like everyone else, to not think the same as those around her. Caroline introduces her to poet's corner, a hidden group at school who spend their lunches sharing poems and words that have touched their lives in some way. Samantha likes who she becomes when she is around Caroline and her new friends. She likes being 'Sam' who has the courage to stand up in front of the people in poet's corner and share some of the words that bombard her brain.

Samantha cannot seem to stop thinking about the poet's corner and AJ, whose guitar playing and lyrics have touched her soul. It's too bad that he seems to hate her and nothing she does appears to break through his walls. Nothing but the words that Sam finally finds the courage to share.

Around her new friends, Sam feels more honest, more real, more normal, than she has in a very long time. AJ is learning to see her as more than just one of the popular 'mean girls' that she was for many years. But always tickling at the back of Samantha's mind is a thought that is scarier than any of the others.
Still, I can hear this one thought hiding in the dark corners of my mind. It doesn't attack like the others, but it's frightening in a totally different way. Because it's the one that never leaves. And it's the one that scares me the most.
What if I'm crazy? 
What will Samantha to do if she discovers that this one terrifying thought is actually the truth and everything that she has come to love is really just one more way her mind has betrayed her?

I love the fact that more and more Young Adult authors are finding ways to share mental health issues in books. Teenagers need to feel that they are not alone. They need to see that different isn't wrong or broken, it's just different. I know that this story may not match up to everyone's experience with OCD, but that's okay. It doesn't have to. Because everyone's OCD story is going to be a little different. I appreciate the way Tamara Ireland Stone shared this story of growth and acceptance while shedding a light on a disorder that is often misunderstood.

5 out of 5 stars

Bastille - Bad News

Don't turn your back on me
Don't bury your head deep
Just cause you don't know what to say

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