One of the trends I have noticed recently in young adult literature is books with protagonists who have mental, physical, or emotional disabilities. Every Last Word shows the difficulties of living with an Obsessive Disorder, similar to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder without the ‘compulsive.’ Samantha has obsessive thoughts that makes her struggle to think about anything else, or even sleep at nights. Samantha has a supportive family and a competent therapist that help her through high school, friend problems, and her illness. It was refreshing to read a book with positive adult role models and strong family values.
Samantha is one of the most popular girls in school, but her friends are not supportive; if anything, they add to her obsessive anxiety issues. Samantha escapes through swimming at the pool and participating on the swim team. Her friends make fun of her swimming, her wide shoulders from her swimming muscles, and never go to her swim meets. Samantha’s therapist encourages Samantha to find new friends, but the thought gives her anxiety.
Then, Samantha meets a girl who is different than any of her friends and accepts Samantha for who see is even after she finds out about the Obsessive Disorder. This girl leads Samantha to a secret group that meets during lunch to share poetry. Through this new friend, her discovery of poetry, and the people Samantha meets in the poetry club, she begins to feel more in control of her life. There is a bit of a shocker towards the end of the book (which the author did such a great job with), but it is a great story of accepting yourself and others.
I highly recommend this story as a great realistic portrayal of learning to accept yourself, problems and all. I appreciated the way there were great adult examples in Samantha’s life, including her mother and therapist. It was also nice to see the way her family interacts, and the way her relationship with a certain guy develops. Warning— there are swear words, kissing, and a teenage sex scene. Overall, it was a powerful message about life, dealing with a mental illness positively, and the power of strong relationships with family and friends.