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Every Last Word Book Summary, Review, Notes

“Every Last Word” is a compelling novel that delves into the life of Samantha McAllister, a high school junior struggling with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the pressures of fitting in with the popular crowd.


The book details Samantha’s journey of self-discovery, her struggles with mental illness, and the transformative power of poetry and friendship. The narrative offers a poignant look at the challenges of teenage life, the stigma of mental health issues, and the courage to embrace one’s true self.


Book Title: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Date of Reading: April 2023
Rating: 8/10

Table of Contents

What Is Being Said In Detail:

Six Months Earlier


Samantha reflects on her past, particularly the events that happened six months earlier, which set the stage for her current struggles and experiences.




The narrative shifts to the present, focusing on Samantha’s ongoing challenges with OCD and her efforts to navigate her daily life.


More Than Anything


Samantha’s deepest desires and aspirations are revealed, highlighting her longing for understanding and acceptance amid her mental health struggles.


Five of Us


This heading explores the dynamics within Samantha’s friend group, emphasizing the complexities and pressures of their relationships.


Keep a Secret


Samantha grapples with the burden of keeping her OCD a secret, illustrating the tension between her inner world and outward appearance.


In the Deep


Samantha finds herself deeply entrenched in her thoughts and feelings, struggling to find a way out of her internal turmoil.


By Your Side


The importance of support and companionship is underscored, as Samantha experiences moments of connection and solidarity.


An Overwhelming Urge


Samantha battles overwhelming compulsions and urges, a hallmark of her OCD, showcasing the intensity of her mental health challenges.


Let Me Hear


Samantha seeks understanding and empathy from those around her, yearning for a space where she can express herself without judgment.


We Fixed Him


There’s a focus on fixing or solving problems, possibly related to relationships or personal issues, within Samantha’s life or her friend circle.


That Narrow Hallway


This heading likely symbolizes a transitional or constricted phase in Samantha’s life, filled with uncertainty and limited options.


Can’t Move On


Samantha faces difficulties moving forward, whether in her personal growth, relationships, or managing her OCD.


Three Steps Up


Represents progress or a small victory in Samantha’s journey, perhaps in her battle with OCD or in her personal relationships.


A Poet Wannabe


Samantha explores her interest in poetry, which becomes a therapeutic outlet for her emotions and thoughts.


Let Everything Go


Emphasizes the need for release and letting go, whether of control, fears, or the past, in Samantha’s journey towards healing.


Out of Thoughts


Could indicate a moment of respite or clarity for Samantha, where she finds a brief escape from her incessant thoughts.


An Excellent Question


Implies a moment of introspection or significant realization, prompted by a question or reflection.


This It Is


Suggests a moment of acceptance or coming to terms with a situation or aspect of her life.


Melt with You


Indicates a moment of closeness or emotional melting, possibly in a relationship or a moment of self-acceptance.


Three Little Chords


Could symbolize simplicity and the beauty of small things in Samantha’s life, perhaps in her creative expressions like poetry.


This White Rabbit


May represent following an unexpected path or a journey into the unknown, much like Alice’s adventure in “Alice in Wonderland.”


Grip the Bat


Suggests taking control or preparing to face a challenge head-on.


He Reaches Out


Indicates a moment of connection or support from someone in Samantha’s life, perhaps offering help or understanding.


Safe with Them


Highlights a sense of safety and belonging, possibly within a new or existing supportive group or relationship.


Not a Date


Implies a situation involving ambiguity in a relationship or an interaction that is significant yet not romantic.


The Bottom Rung


May symbolize feeling at a low point or starting from the bottom in a particular aspect of her life.


Here You Are


Suggests a moment of self-realization or being present in a significant way, either physically or emotionally.


Whatever This Is


Reflects uncertainty or confusion about a situation or feeling in Samantha’s life.


Your Best Friends


Focuses on the role and impact of friendships in Samantha’s life, possibly exploring the complexities of these relationships.


Write About Me


Could indicate a request or desire for expression, perhaps someone wanting to be understood or remembered through Samantha’s poetry.


This Is Good


Suggests a moment of positivity or approval, where something in Samantha’s life is going right or feeling satisfying.


The Tenth Thing


Implies a culmination or a significant point in a series of events or thoughts, possibly a turning point.


This One Boy


Likely focuses on a particular boy in Samantha’s life, exploring her feelings or relationship with him.


Totally Different Person


Suggests a transformation or change in either Samantha or someone close to her, indicating growth or a shift in perspective.


All About Me


Centers on self-focus or self-discovery, where Samantha may be contemplating her own needs and desires.


Recent and Raw


Indicates dealing with fresh, possibly painful, experiences or emotions that are still very much present and affecting Samantha.


Kind of Twisted


Suggests a complex or difficult situation, possibly related to Samantha’s OCD or a complicated relationship.


Do Two Things


Implies a choice or the need to balance two competing priorities or actions in Samantha’s life.


Lock Myself Inside


Could symbolize isolation or the need to protect oneself, perhaps from overwhelming thoughts or external pressures.


Pass It On


Suggests the act of sharing or transferring something, whether knowledge, an object, or a sentiment.


Way Too Much


Reflects a sense of being overwhelmed or overburdened, whether by emotions, responsibilities, or external pressures.


Stitched into Me


Implies something deeply ingrained or an integral part of Samantha’s identity or experiences.


That’s the Thing


Highlights a realization or an important point in Samantha’s narrative, bringing attention to a key aspect of her story.


The First Time


Suggests a new experience or a significant first in Samantha’s life, marking a moment of change or discovery.


Got This One


Indicates a moment of confidence or achievement, where Samantha feels capable and in control.

Tamara Ireland Stone Quote

Most important keywords, sentences, quotes:

“These walls heard me when no one else could. They gave my words a home, kept them safe.”


“Shy, insecure, afraid to speak up? “Act as if,” they say. Act as if you’re not. Stand tall when you walk. Project your voice when you talk. Raise your hand in class. Act as if. Speak your mind. Cut your hair. Be the part. Look the part. You can do this. Just act as if. If you really knew me, If you could see inside, You’d find shy and insecure and afraid. Acting as if. Ironic, isn’t it? The only time I’m not Acting “as if”? When I’m on a stage.”


“What you see … And on the other side: It isn’t me.”


“I’m merely reminding you to embrace who you are and surround yourself with people who do the same.”


“The trick is to recognize your mistakes, take what you need from them, and move on” -Sue”


“Well, she’s not like any of the Crazy Eights. She’s kind of awkward but she’s nice. I barely know her but I already think she sort of…gets me.”


“Inspiration. I feel my face heat up and I’m relieved when Sue moves on to the next picture.”


“I have a tendency to overthink things, especially when it comes to my friends, and I don’t know…I take things too personally. I mean, it isn’t always them . Sometimes it’s me. I just don’t always know when it’s them and when it’s me, you know?”


“I’m going to show you something that will change your whole life.”


“Crappy mall food cures everything.”


“Melllllt. I say the word slowly, drawing it out, and I feel my mouth turn up into a satisfied smile.”


“It was like I needed to trick my brain to distract it with something else.”


“I am silently correcting your grammar.”


“AJ is wrong; he has to be. Caroline was there at every reading during every lunch hour.”


“If you could read my mind, you wouldn’t be smiling.”


“Everyone’s got something. Some people are just better actors than others.”


“I didn’t go there looking for you. I went looking for me.” My voice is soft, low, and shaky. “But now, here you are, and somehow, in finding you, I think I’ve found myself.”


“I make a mental note to go read his poem now that I have proper context.”


“Mistakes. Trial and error. Same thing. Mistakes are how we learned to walk and run and that hot things burn when you touch them. You’ve made mistakes all your life and you’re going to keep making them.”


“You look around at the people in your life, one by one, choosing to hold on to the ones who make you stronger and better, and letting go of the ones who don’t.”


“See that spot over there? Come back here on Thursday right after the lunch bell rings and wait for me.”

Tamara Ireland Stone Quote 2

Book Review (Personal Opinion):

“Every Last Word” is a beautifully written and deeply touching novel that skillfully portrays the complexities of living with OCD. The character of Samantha is relatable and authentic, bringing light to the often-misunderstood aspects of mental health. The book eloquently captures the essence of teenage angst and the transformative power of self-acceptance and friendship. The blend of emotional depth with the trials of high school life makes it a compelling read.


Rating: 8/10


This book is for (recommend):

  • Teenagers and young adults grappling with mental health issues.
  • Readers interested in young adult fiction that tackles serious subjects.
  • Anyone looking for a story about self-discovery and the power of genuine connections.
Tamara Ireland Stone Quote 3

If you want to learn more

To delve deeper into the themes of “Every Last Word,” readers can explore books and resources on OCD, teenage mental health, and the therapeutic benefits of creative expression. Engaging with mental health communities and support groups can also provide additional insights.


How I’ve implemented the ideas from the book

As a reader, you can implement the ideas from “Every Last Word” by practicing empathy and understanding towards those with mental health struggles. Engaging in creative outlets like writing or poetry can be a powerful tool for self-expression and coping with personal challenges.


One small actionable step you can do

As a small actionable step, start journaling or writing poetry as a means of expressing your thoughts and emotions. This simple act can be a powerful way to understand and articulate your inner experiences, just as Samantha discovers in the book.


Every Last Word Book - Summary-Infographic