Book Review: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

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.

Release Date: June 16, 2015
Age Group: YA
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed By: Kelli

I loved every single thing about this book.  The first words drew me in and I couldn't put Every Last Word down until I'd finished it.

Every Last Word hit uncomfortably close to home for me.  Like Samantha, I also have Pure-Obsessional OCD, or Pure-O, and often feel tortured by my own mind.  In the first chapter, Samantha is trimming roses for Valentine's Day and when handed the scissors, is afraid she's going to cut all the roses up with them.  And then she'll cut her friends' hair and not be able to stop.  This kind of thinking, going into a panic over what would be a fleeting thought for most, is called an intrusive thought.  

Intrusive thoughts cause major distress, panic, and upset.  They are a hallmark of Pure-O, and the way Stone wrote Sam's intrusive thoughts was so perfectly accurate, I got chills.  I could so easily identify with Sam, especially how she feels as though she has to keep her disorder hidden from her friends.  Stone's personification of Pure-O was so true to what my experience with it has been.  I could tell that she did a great deal of research while planning and writing this book.  I love it when authors write so knowledgeably on a difficult subject.

One of the caveats of books that address mental health issues or substance abuse issues is how the protagonist's issues are addressed.  Too often, I've seen the trope of "love cures all" and that just rings false and feels like a deux ex machina to me.  I was so happy that Sam got better in realistic ways.  Sam goes to therapy and does the hard, hard work of sharing her thoughts and reframing them.  She takes medication to help herself cope, and surrounds herself with people who build her up instead of bringing her down.  Sam learns healthy coping methods (several of which inspired me!) and I loved Stone for the way she addresses Sam's OCD.

Beyond Sam's OCD, there were so many interesting aspects to this story: bullying, 'mean girls,' poetry, music, swimming, and young love.  I loved the depth that these themes provided.  Each chapter was titled, something else I really like, because it adds interest and meaning to the story.  And the titles themselves were so relevant to Sam, because they all consisted of three words (three is 'her' number) and were all three words taken from the chapter.  This is significant to the story because this way of creating titles is something Sam came up with herself for her playlists.

Stone's prose flowed so well, that I ended up reading Every Last Word in one sitting.  I loved every single thing about this book and can't wait to read more from Tamera Ireland Stone.


  1. Wow, I love this in-depth review. You're the second reviewer I've read that attested to the authenticity of this book when it came to OCD experiences. I'm sorry you also suffer from Pure-O OCD, but I'm glad you enjoyed this book. :)

    Julie @ Books and Insomnia

  2. High, girl!
    Wouldn’t ya love an endless eternity of aplomBombs
    falling on thy indelible, magnificent, vigilant cranium?
    An XtraXcitinXpose with no
    with an IQ much higher than K2,
    and an extraordinarily, sawcy, rowdy victory??
    Here’s what the prolific GODy sed:
    (what could be MOE exciting than the 3-Stooges??)

    “Faith, hope, and love,
    the greatest of these is love -
    jumpy into faith...
    and you'll see with love”
    Doesn’t matter if you don’t believe
    (what I write);
    God believes in you.
    God. Blessa. Youse -Fr. Sarducci, ol SNL
    Meet me Upstairs, girl, where the Son never goes down…


Word verification stinks--- but spammers are worse. Thank you for your patience!