Review–Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone
Let’s not mess around here… I adored this book! Five stars! Perfection! Every Last Word is one of the best Young Adult novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading. Tamara Ireland Stone deftly handles the 16-year-old protagonist, Samantha-rather-be-known-as-Sam, and her struggle with OCD and discovering her true, honest self. Sam is one of the lucky ones–she’s part of the popular group in school and has been so since childhood. She yearns for more but doesn’t quite know what until she’s led to a secret poetry group by a new friend, Caroline. There, Sam learns to explore her identity and struggles through writing, as well as to make new friends and tentatively begin a new romance.
Sam has been in therapy since she was 10 to treat her OCD but still keeps it a secret from all her friends because she just wants to be viewed as normal. She is a lovely, mature, complex character and it was a wonderful reading experience to see her struggle with her mental health issues, but also with normal teenaged stuff like navigating the worlds of friendship and romance. The book is written from Sam’s first person point of view which only serves to strengthen her development. It is interspersed with excellent secondary characters who are quickly and fully developed through snippets of conversation or (for those in the poetry club) their poetry.
The writing style is mature and never cloying. The conversations and actions of the characters are realistic and fleshed out. The book never feels like it is “dumbing down” to its teen or adult readers. The mental health issues are also handled very well and I really enjoyed the author’s acknowledgements at the end that explained some of her writing process. Overall, this is a truly excellent book that I could not recommend more highly.
I received this book for free from Netgalley.