Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone, Disney-Hyperion (June 16, 2015) ISBN: 9781484705278. reviewed by John R. Clark, MLIS
We all obsess, it’s part of the human condition, but for Samantha McAllister, it’s an all-consuming condition. When she was eleven, she was diagnosed with Purely-Obsessional OCD, a condition that hits her with an endless stream of dark thoughts and worries she cannot shut off.
She’s hidden it well, primarily from her group of friends, the Crazy Eights. They’ve been besties since early grade school and are among the most popular sixteen year olds in her high school. It hasn’t been easy. Sam, as she would like to be called, has been on medication and seeing Sue, a psychiatrist, for five years, but still has moments when she can’t back away from really scary thoughts. She’s obsessed with number three-the odometer on her car must stop at it whenever she parks her car, she swims in lane three (she’s a really good swimmer and hopes to get a college scholarship), if she’s stressing, she scratches the back of her neck in intervals of three.
When she’s really upset by one of her friends, she hides out in the school theater where she meets Caroline. As they talk, Sam opens up, even telling her about her OCD and being in therapy. In return, Caroline tells her about dealing with depression and invites her to meet a secret group of teens who have a room under the theater called Poet’s Corner. A.J. The first person Sam meets when entering the room, is cold and distant, telling her they’ve met before, but not saying more. At first, Sam can’t make the connection, but it’s at the lunch table with the Crazy Eights when Kaitlyn, the de facto leader of the group, reminds her of what happened when they were in fifth grade with A.J.
This starts some serious soul searching on Sam’s part and she tries, with Caroline’s help, to write a poem that will reflect her remorse for what happened. It takes a while, but she’s forgiven and then the sparks begin between Sam and A.J. They’re really good for each other and she’s beginning to develop some self-confidence when she learns something so mind boggling it makes her question everything she thinks is real. The author does a stellar job of pulling readers from her melt down through to the conclusion. This is a superb story, full of emotion and a cast of characters, not all nice, but all very real.
The book is an excellent one for any type of library to ad, particularly ones where teens struggle with mental health issues.