“Every Last Word” by Tamara Ireland Stone.
3 out of 5 stars.
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 will probably be a really short review because “Every Last Word” was a good book, I just don’t have a lot to say about it. I had very few expectations going into this book, so I wasn’t disheartened when I didn’t fall in love with the story or characters.
Sam was a good character, and my heart ached for her and how she struggled with OCD. Sam had a very interesting story, but I was not particularly attached to her beyond my desire to see her get ahead of her OCD, which I was sad over because I wanted to love this character and cheer her on. Sam was okay, but she didn’t pop out to me while reading “Every Last Word,” and her struggle with OCD was the only thing that kept me reading. I wanted to learn more about that disorder and see how this girl might overcome it, but in the end, my wants were not enough to make me really like Sam as a character.
The main guy was cute in “Every Last Word,” but just like Sam, he wasn’t fleshed out enough for me to come to love him, and I wish that it had been different because I really wanted to fall for him. He was sweet and kind and there were a couple of things in his past that came to light which made me almost tear up, but I still had a problem with fully falling for this character; he definitely felt like the most dynamic character in “Every Last Word,” but I was still a little detached. Like Sam, he was a good character but he didn’t leave a lasting impression on me. Proof of this is that I can’t even remember what his name was! He was a good character, he just didn’t leave a lasting impression.
The best way I can describe my distance from these characters is a tall glass wall; I could see the characters and observe their struggles, but feeling alongside them was out of the question. There was a scene in this book that made my heart ache just a little bit for boy-whose-name-I-can’t-remember, but again, the emotional attachment just wasn’t there even though I wanted it to be. I could see theses characters through the glass wall, I just couldn’t get past it and was left distant despite trying to connect with them.
One of the things that I did really like about this book was how Tamara Ireland Stone used words. Obviously she used them to create this story, but what I liked was how Stone chose to show the power of the written and spoken word, how it can be used to help people or harm them. I love reading, words in general, so this aspect of the story really resonated with me. I loved this piece of “Every Last Word,” and it was just a good reminder of how powerful, and harmful, words can be.
Overall, “Every Last Word” was a good book with a great story behind it, but sadly I just didn’t connect with it. I really wanted to like this book and grow attached to Sam and the boy-whose-name-I-can’t-remember, but in the end, there was just no connection between me and the characters in this story. Well-written, just not for me.