Thursday, June 18, 2015

ARC Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Title: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Published: June 16, 2015 by Disney Hyperion
(Amazon / Goodreads)

Synopsis: 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

**** I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher (thanks Disney Hyperion) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This fact has not changed my opinion. ****

A year ago if you had told me that I would enjoy a YA contemporary romance about a main character who is dealing with OCD (purely obsessional in this case) I would not have believed you. But if contemporary month has taught me anything it's that I really do enjoy these books, it just has to be the right kind of contemporary romances. Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone was the right kind of book.

One of the things that I liked most about Every Last Word was the main character and narrator, Sam. You probably don't want to relate with a character who is dealing with a mental health issue but that's exactly what happened for me here. I've dealt with anxiety for years including some really bad times. I know how Sam feels when she is fixated on something that might seem trivial to other people. You can't get it out of your head so you spend all this time worrying about it. I've also dealt with the concept of not being honest with people about who you are and what you are dealing with. It's a universal concept that I think a lot of people can relate to. But my favorite thing about Sam is that she didn't let her mental health get in the way of her daily life. She was determined to live as normal a life as possible and I found her strength not only admirable but also empowering. I really liked her desire to grow and evolve and become the person she wanted to be not the person others wanted her to be. She had so much inner strength and being in her head was complex and interesting.

But Sam wasn't the only great character in this book. Every Last Word was full of complex characters who I liked a lot as well. She starts the book out with a group of friends, the Eights (but there are only five of them which super confused me) that are not very likeable. They are the popular girls in school and come off as total "mean girls" but as the book develops you see that there is more to them and I liked that even though I really grew to like many of them. Then there is the group of people Sam meets in Poet's Corner. "A ragtag group of misfits" or so we are told. They were also a complex group and really supportive and fun. I of course liked Caroline who was so sweet and Sam's introduction to the world and AJ, the guitar-playing love interest. Let's be honest the sensitive, poetry-writing, guitar player can get stereotypical really fast but AJ never felt that way. He did feel a little tropey at times but he was always charming and complex. I liked there relationship which felt very realistic and was a pretty good slowburn. But what I liked most about the romance is that it was not at all the focus.

This book was so much about Sam, her mental health, and really her coming-of-age. I felt like the author handled such a serious issue with care and respect. You felt what it was like to be inside Sam's head, to deal with her OCD but it never came off as over the top. It also never came off as a sob story, which you probably know I hate. She had a great support system helping her figure things out and become the person she wanted to be. One of those people helping her was her psychiatrist Sue. I felt like they had a really great relationship that also came off as completely genuine. Her mom was also another person helping her figure things out and cope. But the best and most interesting way that she found to cope was through poetry. As someone who has never really thought they were very good at poetry I really enjoyed seeing Sam struggle at first to find the words and then really blossom and find a lot of solace in expressing her feelings in a new and complex way. It was just another thing about her personality and character development that made me like her and the book.

I also found Every Last Word to incredibly well plotted. It developed at the perfect pace leading towards an interesting conclusion as Sam grew as a person within a new group and on her own. And as often is the case with me, I figured one of the big twists out pretty early in the book but I still felt like it built to the reveal in an intentional and methodical way that didn't come off as forced or  obtuse. I do just wish there was a little bit more resolution to that plot point. It felt like an intentional build but it never really got the falling action that I wanted.

On the whole I really enjoyed Every Last Word. I found it a complex coming-of-age story with great characters that handles a serious issue with care while still making it interesting.

I give Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone an 8.5 out of 10

Buy/Borrow/Bypass: Buy/Borrow. If you are a fan of contemporary romances that are more on the serious side than I definitely suggest checking this one out. I found it interesting and informative and as a person who is not a huge fan of contemporary novels, I would definitely recommend it.

Have you read Every Last Word? What did you think? Leave me a comment with your thoughts. Thanks for stopping by and HAPPY READING!


  1. Awesome review! I am glad you enjoyed this one as well. I think we need more YA books that deal with mental health. I agree with you in that the author handled it really well. I am STILL thinking about the plot twist in this book.

    1. We do need more YA books that handle mental health. Especially ones that deal with it as well as this book. I was thinking about the plot twist for a long time afterwards as well. Although that may be because there wasn't much explanation for why it happened. The clues were there but the reasoning wasn't. But it was still fantastic.

  2. Great review. It sounds like I’m going to have to read this one. I love YA contemporaries.

    Aj @ Read All The Things!

    1. I hope you enjoy it. I'm not a big fan of YA contemps but this one was right up my alley.

  3. I'm getting a copy of this book and I can't wait :DDD

  4. I'm glad to see that you really liked this one! I just got a copy for review so I'll definitely be reading it soon.
    Krystianna @ Downright Dystopian

  5. Yay for New Girl gifs :)

    I`m so excited to be reading everyone`s love for this book.
    It is hard to admit that you relate with a character that has a disability but Sam is wonderful and by the end I feel like she is on the right path to getting all the help she needs.

    Books Buying Beauty

    1. I agree. It's hard to relate but that's not necessarily a bad thing. I think sometimes we read certain books to see our own struggle mirrored in someone else to know we're not alone. And I agree that Sam is on the path to getting what she needs.

  6. Great review. I am so excited to read this one. I have heard nothing but great reviews!

    1. Thanks Cynthia, I hope you check it out and enjoy it as much as I did. I have also been seeing a lot of great reviews for this one. I'm so happy it's getting the love it deserves.

  7. Ahhh I love your blog and you so much! I didn't even remember requesting this so I was scared when I got approved since it doesn't sound like a book I would like. You have eradicated my fears my B.S.M. 😜

    1. I love you so much! No Britt, it's really good. I was worried it was going to be super sad but it wasn't. It was actually a really hopeful coming-of-age story. I think you'll like it.