Every Last Word Book Review

Emme Clymer, Inspiration Station Editor

Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone is a heartwarming and inspiring story portraying the perspective of a teenage girl secretly struggling with Purely-Obsessional OCD all while trying to fit in with her peers. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and I would definitely recommend taking your time to read it.

Having the main character of a book with a mental illness can be challenging. It’s hard to accurately portray a mental illness respectfully, but Stone does it perfectly. The television show 13 Reasons Why, for example, has been controversial because of the glorification and romanticizing of depression. Both Every Last Word and 13 Reasons Why have a main character who suffers from a mental illness (Hannah struggled with depression and Sam OCD) but 13 Reasons Why didn’t do a very good job of respectfully portraying depression. Stone doesn’t shy away from the darker and scarier parts of dealing with a mental illness, such as describing some of Sam’s panic attacks and discussing her coping mechanisms, one of which includes furiously scratching the back of her neck when feeling overwhelmed and being obsessed with the number three.

Sam is a very realistic and relatable character, even for those who don’t suffer from OCD or any mental illness for that matter. Sam struggles with being one of the girls in their high school’s infamous popular girl group, and all she really wants is to fit in, as we all do. Though Sam struggles internally with OCD, she is careful to keep it hidden from her friends and goes to great lengths like creating excuses to keep her friends from driving in the car with her because of her obsession with the number three. I think we can all relate to wanting to hide things from friends or peers to come across as more “normal.”

Sam goes through so much character development that shows the reader that you can always change. She is trapped in a group of ruthless stereotypical mean girls, but Sam soon realizes she doesn’t like who she is and tries to change it by actively making new friends that aren’t so toxic and hateful. By Sam changing to become a better person, Stone is trying to tell the reader that it is never too late to become a better human.

Every Last Word is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and it shows the raw emotions and feelings of a high schooler not only trying to navigate being a teenager but also mental health. Even for teenagers who are fortunate enough to not suffer from a mental illness, this novel has something in it for everyone to learn and I wholeheartedly recommend it to all teenagers who feel a little lost.