Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Every Last Word

“Everyone’s got something. Some people are just better actors than others.”

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.

Personal Thoughts:

2015 YA contemporary reads seems full of characters with mental health condition or it’s just my TBR is full of this type of books? Since I read All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven last January I’ve been stumbling with books that focus on mental health issues. It’s like “it’s the theme” of the year or the new fad in contemporary fiction.

So with the sea of fictions dealing with almost the same theme Every Last Word is expected to be just another contemporary read for me. But then Tamara Ireland Stone did something different by exploring her character’s dark thoughts. She didn’t just tell her readers how someone with mental health condition suffered but also live with their condition.

She let us experience Sam’s thoughts and surroundings as well as the silence, the gaps, and contradictions in Sam’s mind. Every unsaid thoughts, obsessions, hallucinations, or panic attacks from Sam’s brain are pieces of truth – unfiltered and raw.

Right from the start Tamara fed us with Sam’s deepest thoughts. Each of Sam’s dark ideas and feelings are laid open to the readers. It’s a tricky read because sometimes even Sam doesn’t aware which is really happening in her life and which is happening in her mind. Her internal struggle will surely be felt by the readers. The battle between the impulse to do something and the struggle to stop it is so constant that sometimes you will wish you can do something to help Sam. And when Sam is owning her condition, trying to fight her own mind, you will surely admire her. Her willingness to understand herself and her mental condition is so admirable which in returns will make readers want to do the same.

Tamara Ireland Stone brilliantly captured the life and experiences of someone who is living with OCD. She let us see, experience, and understand the mind and heart of those who are suffering with mental illness like Sam.

“You’ve made mistakes all your life and you’re going to keep making them….The Trick is to recognize your mistakes, take what you need form them, and move on.”

Every Last Word also tells us that sometimes we just need to own our craziness inside. To embrace it and recognize it as part of our unique traits instead of categorizing it as a weakness. It’s just a matter of perspective – by seeing things in different angle we can stop all the fears and start living and enjoying our life. We cannot control everything – not in our head, not in real life and as early as we accept that, we stop creating nightmares out of our own fears. Anxiety is just in our head, it cannot really harm us other than the power we give to it to effect our decisions and actions.

“My life might not be perfect and my brain might play tricks on me and I might be overwhelmed by own thoughts, but now that I think about it, I’m lucky to have as much as normal as I do. “

Every Last Word is an intense, insightful, and powerful novel that dig deep to the multiplicities and complexities of human mind and actions. It’s not only an entertaining read but also something that can create awareness about mental health conditions.

* This review is based on an eBook I received courtesy of the publisher, Disney-Hyperion via NetGalley.


2 thoughts on “Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone”

  1. I was a little nervous to pick this one up because normally “issue” books (for lack of a better word) are hard for me – they’re almost too much realism and I like to escape when I read. This sounds like such a moving story though, and one with a great message about seeing yourself and your flaws in a more positive light. Beautiful review!


  2. I agree with you. lots of YA contemporary this year are “issue” books (borrowing jenn’s word). Too much that when I am reading the blurb it feels that they all the same to me. I wish there’s more light read than this. Thanks for sharing your thoughts cai.


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