book review · contemporary · mental health · YA

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone | Book Review

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Genre: YA Contemporary

Pages: 368

Format: Hardcover

Buy the Book: Amazon

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Samantha McAllister is one of the popular girls at school, but she is hiding a secret – she has Pure-Obsessional OCD that consumes her thoughts that she can’t turn off. And even though her relationship with her friends can be toxic, she knows she can’t leave the protection of the popular group. So when Sam meets Caroline, who makes her laugh and doesn’t care for fashion and make up, she knows she has to keep their friendship a secret. But when Caroline introduces Sam to a hidden group known as Poet’s Corner, she is immediately drawn to them and starts to discover a whole new side of herself, opening up to them and writing poetry. 

I am always trying to read more books that deal with mental health, and so when I heard the premise of Every Last Word along with good reviews I decided to give it a try. I found this book to be both enjoyable and realistic.

One of the things I enjoyed most about this was Samantha’s character. She’s very mult-dimensional and Stone didn’t just let her OCD be the main part of her personality – whilst it plays a big part in her life, Sam is also a successful swimmer aiming for a college scholarship who also enjoys writing poetry. All of these different facets of her character felt equally important which I really appreciated. That being said Sam’s OCD is clearly explained and explored through different events throughout the book. I also really loved her relationship with her therapist which was very positive and supportive – not always seen in YA!

I’ll admit to being a hard sell on romance, particularly in YA contemporary novels but the romance in this felt nicely paced as well fitting well into the plot. I really loved the character of her love interest and their relationship, but also that their relationship didn’t magically fix all of Sam’s problems. Her popular friends, whilst sometimes being toxic and slightly mean, were not written in an over-the-top way, and the dynamic between that group was executed very well.  I also really enjoyed some of the other side characters from Poet’s Corner, particularly Emily whom I personally related to.

Stone’s writing was simple but kept the story moving along nicely, giving us the important evens in Sam’s life and not lingering on unnecessary details. I particularly enjoyed the sections of poetry included throughout the book as they gave a quick and insightful look into the characters we meet at Poet’s Corner. Some made me laugh, some made me cry, and I thought they were one of my favourite things about the novel.

Overall, Every Last Word is a realistic and important portrayal of what it is to be a teenager living with OCD. Samantha’s character arc is one of my favourites of the year so far and I thought it was paced and done beautifully.

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