Book review – Every Last Word


Maggie Dempewolf, Staff writer

Every Last Word follows the story of high school junior Samantha McAlister. Sam seems like your average American teenage girl, but she has a few secrets of her own. The book was published in 2015 and written by Tamara Ireland Stone. This book really delves into what it’s like having to live with a severe mental illness.

The story starts out about six months before the rest of the storyline. It’s Valentine’s day, and Sam and her friends are preparing roses to give out to their high school. Her group of friends who are known as the Crazy Eights are the popular ones in school. The rest of the student body either hates them or loves them. As Sam is in the process of cutting roses, a dark thought slips in. She obsesses over the idea of taking her scissors and cutting off one of the girl’s hair. 

The main part of the story starts as summer is ending and we learn that Sam is a swimmer. Swimming is more than just a sport to Sam. It’s a place where she can go to unwind, where she can escape from her intrusive thoughts and be her true self. As summer ends, Sam prepares herself to say goodbye to “summer Sam,” the side of herself that she refers to when she is at her calmest state and not at school. She finds that her friends and school heighten her anxiety and her OCD tendencies.

All the meanwhile, Sam is visiting her therapist Sue once a week to discuss how she is feeling. She talks about the Crazy Eights and all of her OCD issues. On her birthday, Sam meets a girl named Caroline at school. She is unlike the Crazy Eights, instead she’s quiet, wears denim and flannels, and doesn’t wear any makeup.  Caroline shows Sam to a place called poets’ corner located within the school’s theater. Here Sam makes many friends and finds a voice for herself. With the help of Caroline, Sam is able to overcome her issues with OCD and the Crazy Eights.

Overall, this book is a great insight to what life is like living with a severe mental illness. This book shows how some people can find ways to cope with it. This book is a very great and intriguing read for teens.