Hi! Mental health month is in May but I saw this book recommended on Twitter as part of mental health reads. After my month of LGBT reads, I figured that I wanted to try some that deal with mental health. Mental health is something personal for me, both because of my own experience as well as my career as a counselor, which I am studying for.
Title: Every Last Word
Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Rating: 5/5 stars
This book truly hit me hard. I was lucky that my library had a digital copy and I downloaded it to start reading right away. But wow, this is a really ‘real’ book and it made my heart hurt and soar at the same time. The book follows Samanatha (or Sam), who struggles with anxiety and OCD. She goes through high school with a really terrible group of friends but meets a girl named Caroline, who introduces her to a new group of friends and the art of poetry.
I think my favorite thing about this book was that it told it like it is. It didn’t sugarcoat what anxiety was like and it showed the everyday manifestations of the mental illness. Additionally, it chronicles Sam’s therapy sessions which I think is so important for young people to read. Many are still plagued by the idea of mental illness being a stigma and that getting help means that they’re crazy. It doesn’t! It means that they’re strong enough to realize they need help to get better and cannot do it on their own. I have recently been shown that anxiety is the root and why I do many things that I do, and why I am the way that I am. For so long, I thought I didn’t have anxiety to that level, but once I accepted I did, I was able to deal with it so much better. I am not on medication or have severe anxiety (I like to call it ‘high functioning anxiety’) but I related to Sam in a way that I really needed to have years ago. Sam’s character truly made this book everything it needed to be for me and I can’t stress enough how beautifully written she is as a character.
There isn’t anything I didn’t like about this book. While it is a contemporary, it is told in a way that keeps you intrigued and there are some twists in this book that I wasn’t expecting at all! I also found it interesting that it depicted Sam’s mother a lot in the book and she was trained by Sam’s therapist on how to deal with Sam’s anxiety attacks, when they happen. It made me think about how I want to handle my own mental health practice some day and I feel that this is such an important asset. Parents often don’t know how to deal with their child’s mental illness or developmental disability–not at their own fault, but because some therapists just don’t teach them or think it’s important to. After reading this book, I agree that it is, and I would go on to suggest teaching small things to best friends so that if the parent isn’t there, they can help as well.
I would recommend this book to anyone struggling with anxiety, mental illness of any kind, or if someone you know is dealing with mental illness. It gives useful insights into how it really affects a person’s life daily and can help identify warning signs that someone needs some support.
Happy reading! ~ Taylor