Every Last Word Book Review (2024)

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

  • Educational Value

    some

    Teens will learn a great deal about anxiety and the kind of OCD that is termed "purely obsessional" and that presents itself as more internal than external, meaning it's easier to hide but just as serious. Dispels myth that all people with OCD have the same symptoms, twitches, and rituals.

  • Positive Messages

    some

    Strong messages about the importance of therapy and the value of supportive friends and family to deal with mental illness and anxiety. Sam's story makes it clear why everyone needs friends who don't rank you or make you feel like you should be grateful to be seen with them. Sam's relationship with AJ proves it's possible to seek and receive forgiveness for past bullying or mean behavior toward another person. Their relationship also stresses how romance should be based in friendship, respect, and, ultimately, trust.

  • Positive Role Models

    some

    Dr. Pat is a dedicated therapist who genuinely cares about Sam and wants to give her the tools to deal with her OCD. She makes herself available outside of working hours to help Sam when she's having an emergency. Sam and AJ have a positive relationship that ends up helping Sam come to terms with how her illness is affecting her. Thanks to AJ and Caroline, Sam realizes she needs helpful, unconditional friends.

  • Violence & Scariness

    a little

    Sam's OCD causes her to fixate on things: What if she takes the scissors in her hands and stabs someone or cuts someone's hair? She can't control what triggers her obsessional thoughts, but she usually employs techniques to calm herself down and stop the spiral of negative thoughts.

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  • Sex, Romance & Nudity

    some

    A few passionate kisses and make-out sessions (in a pool, on a bed, in a car) and a momentous love scene (it's one character's first time) described more from an emotional perspective than a physical one. Sam has a history of obsessing about guys, most of whom are unavailable, making them easy to obsess over until she finds someone new.

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  • Language

    some

    Occasional strong language: "f--k," "bitch," "a--hole," "douche," "s--t"; insults such as "loser, "freak"; mocking jokes about AJ's stuttering.

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  • Parents Need to Know

    Parents need to know that Every Last Word is a contemporary young adult novel about a teen girl dealing with purely obsessional OCD and keeping it at bay enough to stay in the cool squad at her high school. The main character's mental illness and anxiety are explored in great detail, as is her ongoing therapy. The story features in-depth descriptions of the protagonist's obsessional thoughts and rituals. There is occasional strong language (including "f--k" and "s--t") and a scene in which a teen has sex for the first time, but it's not explicit or overly provocative for mature YA readers. Teens interested in reading about anxiety and mental illness will find Samantha an accessible and sympathetic character.

What's the Story?

EVERY LAST WORD is a contemporary romance about 16-year-old Samantha, who's one of the most popular girls and best swimmers at her high school. She and her queen-bee besties have called themselves the "Crazy Eights" since middle school, even though only five girls remain in the clique. The thing is, Sam really does feel "crazy" because she suffers from purely obsessional OCD, a form of the disorder that manifests mostly internally with overwhelming and obsessive thoughts. As her friends begin to let her down junior year, Sam meets the quiet and contemplative Caroline, who introduces her to a hidden room in the school where a group of misfit, artistic kids hold secret "Poet's Corner" meetings. In the Poet's Corner, the students read their poetry without fear of judgment or ridicule. One of the members, AJ, is skeptical of popular girl Sam's interest in the club, but soon they're getting to know each other in a way she's never let anyone get close to her. As Sam draws closer to Caroline and Sam, she must decide whether to be completely truthful about her anxiety and mental illness.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

  • Families can talk about books about mental illness. Why are they important for teens to read, even if they make readers uncomfortable? How are Bea and Beck an unlikely romance in contemporary YA fiction?

  • Do you think Every Last Word could help readers recognize obsessive-compulsive behavior and anxiety disorders they might be struggling with? How can readers learn from Sam and her therapy sessions?

  • How does the book portray teen sexuality? What do you think about the fact that AJ is more sexually experienced than Samantha? Is their relationship's development believable?

Every Last Word Book Review (2024)
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