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Book Discussion: Every Last Word

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Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone

Summary

From the outside, Samantha McAllister’s life seems perfect. She’s a popular junior with a  group of beautiful friends, a stellar swimmer, and a tight-knot family. But Samantha is hiding a secret: she has purely obsessional OCD. She spends her entire life trying to cope with her anxiousness and obsessive nature.

But one day, Sam meets Caroline, who introduces her to a world of poetry, secrets, and moody poet boys. And Sam starts to realize that she can be more than just a popular girl with a dark secret.

Every

heartRomance Score: You’re Trying

I couldn’t really buy into the romance of this book. First, Sam and her friends bullied AJ for most of middle school, and based on the descriptions, it was pretty traumatic. I can’t imagine why AJ was willing to be friends with Sam, let alone be open to some kind of love interest. Second, the author makes it pretty clear that Sam’s OCD means that she obsesses over boys that she likes. However, other than one short episode, her relationship with AJ seems pretty “normal”. It was hard for me to understand this – nothing about her relationship with AJ seemed different than that with other boys, so why wouldn’t her illness make her obsess over him? This romance left me more confused than anything else.

Feminist Score:  You’re Trying  Rosie

Sam and her friends, the “Crazy Eights” have a toxic friendship. Not only do they bully other kids, but they instantly turn on each other if one of them decides they have interests other than the group. And while there is some growth throughout the book, I don’t think the topics of bullying or backstabbing are really discussed enough for a full resolution.   And while the portrayal of female friendship between Caroline and Sam is pretty strong, the ending of the  book makes you question whether strong female friendships really do exist.

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Diversity Score: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort

Sam, the heroine, has Purely-obsessional OCD. She seems like a “normal” pretty, athletic, popular girl, but her mental state is anything but. I liked the portrayal of a seemingly perfect character as something more complex, but she was the only diverse character in the book. All of Sam’s friends (new and old) are straight and white. A bit of diversity would have been appreciated!

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Awesome Factor: Between You’re Trying and Good Effort

I really wanted to like this book. The plot and mental illness affecting the main character seemed interesting, but I just couldn’t get behind the book. There are a couple of reasons for that – 1. The Ending. I don’t want to spoil the book, but the ending unravels the entire plot in a way that left my unsatisfied. 2. The romance wasn’t believable to me and 3. The friendships seem toxic and without enough growth.  This book just didn’t appeal to me, but it may be good for other  readers! I’d love to hear from someone with Purely Obsessional OCD.


 

Favorite Character

Sam’s therapist, Sue. Sue is Sam’s support system, and the way she makes it through high school. I love that Sue works closely with Sam’s mom to maintain therapy throughout the weekdays, and how she always pushes Sam to find better friends.

Favorite Line

I love the description of the Poet’s Corner:

“I spin a slow 360 In place, taking it all in. All four walls are covered with scraps of paper in different colors and shapes and textures, all jutting out at various angles. Lined paper ripped from spiral-bound notebooks. Plain paper, three holed punched. Graph paper, torn at the edges. Pages that have yellowed with age, along with napkins and Post-its and brown paper lunch bags and even a few candy wrappers”.

 Fun Author Fact

According to her website, Tamera Ireland Stone had a cool career in public relations. She worked on some of the early Apple campaigns for iMac with Steve Jobs.

Read This Next

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon. Madeline is allergic to everything, and she’s not allowed to go outside. But when a new family moves in down the street, Madeline is drawn to the outside world (not to mention, the cute boy next door). Check out our review here.

Post Author: Anisha

Anisha

Anisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Filed under Contemporary, High School, Romance

Book Chat – To All the Boys I Loved Before

To All the Boys I Loved Before by Jenny Han

Summary

Lara Jean has a fail-proof method of getting over her crushes. She15749186 writes them love letters, and then stuffs them in an old hat box her mother gave her. The boys never learn about her crush, and she gets over them.

But one day, she discovers that someone has mailed all her old love letters! Close to being socially ruined forever, Lara Jean comes up with an ingenious plan to save her dignity. But will it work?

A book of first loves, sister hood, and so much food, To All the Boys I Loved Before is a great YA teen romance.

 

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Favorite Character

This is so hard! I relate to all three of the Song sisters. As the bossy elder sister who thinks she knows everything in my own family, I relate to Margo well. I love Lara Jean’s bravery and spunk, and adore Kitty for her precocious nature. If I had to pick one, though, it would be Lara Jean. Her courage in the face of social destruction is admirable.

Favorite Line

“There is a specific kind of fight you can only have with your sister. It’s the kind where you say things you can’t take back. You say them because you can’t help but say them, because you’re so angry it’s coming up your throat and out our eyes; you’re so angry you can’t see straight. All you see is blood.”

This book is as much about sisterhood as it is about first loves. I love how this perfectly captures the sibling relationship.

Fun Author Fact

While I do have a Jenny Han fun fact (according to an interview with Ron Reads, she wrote never-to-be-sent love letters to her crushes too!), I actually love her take on diversity in literature.

When asked about the diverse casting in the  book, she said,  “I want my books to look like the real world, and the real world is populated by all kinds of people. I think diversity in young adult literature is very important because it reflects what the world really looks like, and that it’s a larger experience. It’s not just one narrow experience. I was thinking about that.”

YES

Is this worth a book hangover?

If  you’re into fun teenage romances (I am!), then it is. For those more inclined to science fiction or fantasy, they may enjoy this book, but it won’t be hangover materiel. But I read it in one go!

Read These Next

This is an older book , but check out Forever by Judy Bloom (our review here).  Forever is about Kath, a re regular high school girl with her first real boyfriend. As Kath and Michael start spending time together, Kath starts to think about taking their relationship to the next level. Will sex change their relationship forever? Written in the 70s, Forever was one of the first YA books to talk openly about teenage sex, and was criticized heavily in the media. Definitely worth the read!

Post Author: Anisha

Anisha

Anisha loves books, Gilmore Girls, and her Kuerig. She’s been reading mainstream YA since she was actually a young adult, and Jess is helping her expand her horizons with more diverse, interesting books from newer authors.

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Filed under High School, podcast, Romance