Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Publication date: June 16, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC via Netgalley (Thanks!)
Summary: Samantha McAllister looks like the rest of the popular girls in her class. But she has a secret her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD & is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts & worries she can't turn off. Second-guessing every move, thought, & word makes life a struggle, & it doesn't help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of any wrong. Yet Sam knows she'd be crazy to leave the protection of the popular girls. So when Sam meets Caroline, she keeps her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor 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. (

The good
I’ve been a fan of Tamara Ireland Stone since I picked up Time Between Us at my very first BEA. (That feels so long ago!) Since the duology ended, I’ve been eagerly waiting for her next book and wow, you guys. Every Last Word blew me away. It tells the story of Samantha McAllister, a girl who’s not who she appears to be. She might seem like just another popular girl in school but in reality, she’s struggling with a form of OCD that consumes her with constant worries, dark thoughts and a tendency to obsess (namely on people and her own life). She refuses to tell her anyone, including the best friends she’s had since childhood. So her main support comes from her mom, younger sister and the weekly visits with her psychiatrist.

The author strongly captures the thoughts racing through Sam’s mind on a regular basis. Just listening to her stream of second-guessing her choices in clothes, conversation, how she acted around her friends or every little move she made was exhausting to read. I couldn’t imagine living that way. She just knows her friends wouldn’t understand but at the same time, she finds comfort in the safety of being with the popular girls even when they’re not exactly nice to fellow classmates. I felt really bad for her because it’s clear she feels alone. Then she meets Caroline and her whole world changes. She’s easy to open up to, funny and gives Sam a much-needed boost of confidence when her anxiety starts to overwhelm her. But most importantly of all, Caroline leads Sam to the Poet’s Corner. It’s a secret club that meets in a hidden room in the school. It’s comprised of a group of misfits who share poetry (serious or silly) with each other and have become very close friends in the process. It’s not easy for them to let Sam in or for Sam to let them in for that matter. Which makes the progression of their friendship (particularly with a guitar-playing swoonworthy guy) and her involvement in the group so beautiful. It’s not just about their love of words or expression. It’s what this room gives them — a place to belong and to find themselves.

(No) reservations
None whatsoever. Super impressed by this book!

Do I recommend?
I do! When I finished, I immediately wanted to discuss it with Alexa. The book really touches on a number of themes. Drifting from childhood friends, meeting people who understand you, anxiety disorders, bullying, seeking help, relationships and growing up. It’s extremely well-written and I enjoyed being a part of every step of Sam’s story.

Collaborative feature with Alexa! 

Share a favorite poem.
My favorite poem is "Variations on the Word Love" by Margaret Atwood. 

This is a word we use to plug
holes with. It's the right size for those warm
blanks in speech, for those red heart-
shaped vacancies on the page that look nothing
like real hearts. Add lace
and you can sell
it. We insert it also in the one empty
space on the printed form
that comes with no instructions. There are whole
magazines with not much in them
but the word love, you can
rub it all over your body and you
can cook with it too. How do we know
it isn't what goes on at the cool
debaucheries of slugs under damp
pieces of cardboard? As for the weed-
seedlings nosing their tough snouts up
among the lettuces, they shout it.
Love! Love! sing the soldiers, raising
their glittering knives in salute.

Then there's the two
of us. This word
is far too short for us, it has only
four letters, too sparse
to fill those deep bare
vacuums between the stars
that press on us with their deafness.
It's not love we don't wish
to fall into, but that fear.
this word is not enough but it will
have to do. It's a single
vowel in this metallic
silence, a mouth that says
O again and again in wonder
and pain, a breath, a finger
grip on a cliffside. You can
hold on or let go. 

1 comment

  1. What a lovely poem, R! I loved reading it. And your thoughts about Every Last Word are spot on. I fell in love with Sam's story, and I think Tamara really captures it well!


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