Thursday, July 28, 2016

Every Last Word

Stone, Tamara Ireland. Read by Amy Rubinate. Every Last Word. Ideal Audioboooks, 2015. Audiobook.

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Summary (from Audiobook Sync)
"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 the 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."

My Thoughts
I listened to this book on my vacation, sometimes while driving and sometimes as a passenger. This is a book about mental illness, which made me think about the Teen Librarian Toolbox project about mental health in YA Lit (#MHYALIT). I was also thinking about display possibilities that can include this book. Now, on to the book.

It is set in California. Samantha McAllister has OCD and sees "ShrinkSue" weekly. Her friends don't know. She has a "thing" for the number 3 (even Stone named her chapters using only 3 words--I noticed!). She is a swimmer. She is part of the "popular" group of girls, the Crazy Eights. She doesn't know if she wants to be anymore after she meets Caroline & finds Poets' Corner in the basement of the school. She loves words (She once heard a linguist at a library program and from that became interested in and fascinated by words. Yay for library programming!). Sam struggles with being herself and being what others expect.

I first thought the love story part was too contrived (the entire story takes place over three months time, as I gathered). However, I then started thinking about my own teenage "relationships" and realized AJ and Sam's love story could be. The childhood connection was a nice touch--Sam and the Eights used to tease AJ (then called Andrew) for stuttering. Through music therapy, he was able to stop stuttering. Now, the boy she teased is the boy the loves.

When I wasn't driving, I was taking plot notes. I have almost two pages. I think this is an interesting story and relateable for teens. There are many issues addressed in the story.

There are very few curse words in the book, which I was glad to see. However, in part 7 of the book, the "f word" is said. To be clear, the context requires it, I think. There is also a sex scene.

The author's note at the end of the recording explains that Stone became interested in OCD when a close family friend was diagnosed. Stone then did her research and tried to create a fictional story that addresses many of the real issues with OCD, Pure O, counseling, and the patient-therapist relationship.

One thing I will note about listening to this story: the reader had a distinct voice that sounded... mysterious. It reminded me a bit of listening to Beautiful Creatures last year. It is not the same reader.

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