(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Also by this author: Every Last Word, Little Do We Know
Published by Disney Electronic Content on June 16th 2015
Genres: Emotions & Feelings, Fantasy & Magic, Friendship, Social Issues, Young Adult
If you could read my mind, you wouldn't be smiling. Samantha McAllister looks just like the rest of the popular girls in her junior class. But hidden beneath the straightened hair and expertly applied makeup is a secret that her friends would never understand: Sam has Purely-Obsessional OCD and is consumed by a stream of dark thoughts and worries that she can't turn off. Second-guessing every move, thought, and word makes daily life a struggle, and it doesn't help that her lifelong friends will turn toxic at the first sign of a wrong outfit, wrong lunch, or wrong crush. Yet Sam knows she'd be truly crazy to leave the protection of the most popular girls in school. So when Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep her new friend with a refreshing sense of humor and no style a secret, right up there with Sam's weekly visits to her psychiatrist. Caroline introduces Sam to the Poet's Corner, a hidden room and a tight-knit group of misfits who have been ignored by the school at large. Sam is drawn to them immediately, especially a guitar-playing guy with a talent for verse, and starts to discover a whole new side of herself. Slowly, she begins to feel more "normal" than she ever has as part of the popular crowd . . . until she finds a new reason to question her sanity and all she holds dear.
Sooooo I’ve been sitting on the fact that I haven’t been able to come up with the words to adequately express my thoughts and feeling about this story since May. Pathetic … I know.
I can tell you this. It will be on my best of 2015 list for sure.
“What if I’m crazy?”
Sam might look just like all the other popular girls at school… straight, perfect hair… perfect makeup… good grades. But she is also hiding a secret that no one would ever guess simply by looking. Beneath the “perfect” façade she’s struggling in so many ways. Let’s start with her friends. She’s grown up with the same group of girls and while that can sometimes be nice, in this case, not so much. These girls that are her friends are a huge cause of stress in her life and though I think she knows this, when we first meet her, she just isn’t ready to give them up. Inside she struggles with obsessional OCD and she worries constantly about everything. Every part of her day is spent second-guessing what she is doing, saying, wearing or thinking and the fact that her friends only add to the toxic thoughts in her head doesn’t help.
But then she meets Caroline and she’s so not the kind of girl that Sam would normally be friends with, she’s funny she pushes Sam to worry less about those around her and more about the things that she wants. She also introduces her to Poet’s Corner. Hidden within her school a group of kids who don’t quite fit in with anyone else have connected and bonded and created a safe-haven where they can share their thoughts and words without judgment and here is where Sam finally finds herself.
There of course is a romance here and Sam finds herself drawn to AJ, a boy that she and her friends tormented in grade school. Because of this, she is bound and determined to show him that she isn’t that person any more.
There have been a ton of books lately that take on the stigma of mental illness and they aren’t always something that I’m dying to read. At times I find they are heavier than what I’m in the mood for, but knowing what I know about Tamara’s writing I knew I had to dive into this one as soon as I could.
While I don’t think I know anyone with OCD, I found that Stone portrayed it in what I felt seemed incredibly realistic and truthful way. Sam’s situation was so hard to read about … the way her doubts and worries messed with her was so sad. . What I loved most here was that Stone was able to portray a person who, while hiding it from her friends, she was still being responsible about it and seeing a therapist, and going to doctor appointments and talking to her family about everything. And what this story shows is that even when you might be doing all the right things, things can still come crashing down around you.
As I said above, there’s a romance here and it was so well done. I have to give kudos to Stone for not changing the direction of the story once the romance comes about, nor does she give the impression that falling in love can cure everything because it certainly doesn’t here. I really enjoyed the progression of the relationship between Sam & A.J.
If you’ve read other reviews, you probably know that there is a twist to this story… one I never saw coming and I predict you won’t either. It was so sneaky and completely brilliant and that’s all I can say about that.
Stone once again has blown me away with her amazing story-telling, her captivating characters and beautiful, poignant story. If you’re looking for contemporary YA that will have you enthralled from the first page to the last, you need to read this. If you haven’t read Stone’s other works, you’re seriously missing out on an incredible voice in YA Literature.