Saturday, January 30, 2016

Every Last Word: The Epitome of Coming of Age in YA


EVERY LAST WORD is the epitome of coming of age in a young adult novel. This book was beautifully written and depicted, sixteen-year-old Samantha, who hangs with a popular group of girls, has a great social life, and from the outside looking in, probably seems as though she has everything. But she has a secret. She is OCD. She has this whole obsessive personality that her "friends" know nothing about. In fact, other than her summer swim friends, no one, not even her supposed besties know much about the real Sam at all.

I flew through the pages of this book. It was complex and deeply satisfying. Unlike a lot of YA, it really gave Sam genuine character growth. She really transforms herself throughout the book, going from this "follower" of her friends ,being fake, and actually quite unhappy, to embracing herself. She's able to break through her shell and be herself with the help of something referred to as Poet's Corner. She's introduced to this underground world by a new friend, Caroline. It's this cool, secret room, in the basement of the theater department, under the stairs, and it's a place where kids, much like herself, different and in need of an outlet, go to write and recite poetry. Through writing her feelings and words, and with the help of Caroline, she's able to let go of her superficial friends, find herself, and embrace who she is, all the while forming true bonds with these other classmates. Oh, and did I mention AJ? *Swoon* He's this boy that she actually once tortured with her friend in grade school because he had a stutter. But he's back at their school, is sort of the current ring leader of Poet's Corner and when she sort of forces herself into Poet's Corner and their world, writing him a poem in the form of an apology, he decides to not only forgive her, but they start to fall for each other. *Cue cheesy boy-band love music here*

I pretty much loved every moment of this book and there is a HUGE, I mean huge twist toward the end that I honestly didn't see coming. I was like, whaaaaa??? Shut the front door! But...that twist does have to do with the one part of the book that annoyed me a bitl. Soooo, I have to vent about that here, because otherwise the book was perfect. I usually avoid spoilers, but not this time, so here we go... If you haven't read the book and don't want the twist spoiled, do NOT read further...

So, Sam discovers her new friend, Caroline, who pretty  much saved her from her miserable life and introduced her to Poet's Corner, is not real. She's actually dead. She had killed herself years before. But, no, she's not seeing ghosts. Her subconscious pulled an old memory of Caroline's tragedy and sort of created this fake persona to help her cope with her anxiety and give her the courage and strength she needed to make changes in her life. It's like her brain was so overloaded with stress and anxiety, she manifested Caroline. That's fine. I have no issue with that. What I found weird was when she mentions to AJ about Caroline and discovers she's fake, AJ is all freaked out and leaves her floundering in the hall at school alone because he doesn't know what to do or say. That's fine, too. A perfectly normal reaction to realizing your girlfriend has been either seeing a ghost or has an invisible friend. hehe. But almost a week (and a bunch of therapy sessions) go by as Sam tries to grasp the idea that her brain created Caroline and come to terms with this, when she finally decides she's going to talk to AJ. He means to much to her and she wants him in her life. So, when she does, she finally explains to him all about her OCD and how she's in therapy for it, etc. etc. Basically tells him everything she should have all along and he is very accepting, but that's it. What?!?!?!?! That's it? He acted all freaked out and then they don't even discuss his feelings on it at all? I wasn't looking for much, but maybe at least just him acknowledging how freaked out he was at first and then later how worried about her he was, but the book just kind of glazed over it and he didn't address his reaction at all. I thought that was weird, but other than that, the book was phenomenal. So much so, that I was able to overlook this minor infraction. :)



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.

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