Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone | Summary, Themes & Synopsis

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TitleEvery Last Word
AuthorTamara Ireland Stone
Publication DateJune, 2015
GenreYoung Adult Fiction, Contemporary Fiction
SettingSan Francisco Bay Area


Tamara Ireland Stone’s young adult book “Every Last Word” was released in 2015. Samantha McAllister, a sixteen year old girl with Purely-Obsessional OCD, is the main character in it. The story examines the difficulties of having a mental illness as well as the strength of friendship, love and self-discovery.

Every Last Word Main Characters

  • Samantha McAllister: A 16-year-old girl who is struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
  • Caroline: A new friend who introduces Samantha to a secret poetry club.
  • AJ: A member of the poetry club who becomes Samantha’s love interest.
  • Susan McAllister: Samantha’s mother who is overbearing and controlling.
  • Julia: Samantha’s former best friend who is part of the popular crowd.

Watch Full Book Analysis & Summary of “Every Last Word” on YoutTube

Every Last Word Summary

Samantha appears to be a typical high school student on the surface. She’s popular, pretty and part of an exclusive group of girls known as the Crazy Eights. However, what her friends don’t know is that she suffers from Purely-Obsessional OCD, which causes her to have intrusive thoughts that can become overwhelming and distressing.

For fear of rejection or judgment, Samantha has been keeping her illness a secret. She has been seeing a therapist for a long, but up until she meets Caroline, a new girl at school, she hasn’t made any progress. Samantha has never met someone like Caroline before. She is kind, eccentric and passionate about poetry.

Via Caroline, Samantha learns of a secret poetry group where she meets several outcast students who end up becoming her real pals. Because they accept her as she is, Samantha feels comfortable being herself around them. AJ, a member of the group and a boy she has known since she was a young child, also wins her heart.

As she spends more time to the poetry group, Samantha begins to question her place in the Crazy Eights. She realizes she has been acting falsely to fit in and that the group is not as helpful as she had thought. She also learns that Sydney, one of her friends, has been the focus of rumors.

When Samantha realizes that Caroline has been battling her own mental health concerns, things reach a breaking point. Caroline has bipolar disorder and she has had a hard time managing it. Samantha chooses to assist Caroline in getting the support she requires after feeling bad for not recognizing before.

Samantha learns to accept her circumstances and herself. She gains an appreciation for friendship, love and self-discovery. She learns that seeking assistance is appropriate and that being mentally ill does not define who she is.

In the end, Samantha makes the decision to quit the Crazy Eights and get more involved in the poetry group. As a result, they start dating and become close friends. She chooses to inform her friends and family about her condition despite how tough it is because she thinks keeping it a secret would be worse.

Every Last Word Themes

Mental Health: The book explores the difficulties and shame around mental health conditions such Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anxiety and depression. Samantha, the primary character, battles with these problems and must learn how to control her symptoms while navigating the social demands of high school.

Identity: Samantha struggles with identity issues throughout the whole book, especially in connection to her place in her buddy circle and her perception of her own value. She needs to face how her OCD has affected her relationships and her life in order to accept who she truly is.

Friendship: The Book explores the complexities of friendship, especially in the setting of high school. While she tries to be a good friend to people around her, Samantha must negotiate the cliques and social hierarchies at her school. The transforming potential of genuine friendship and the ways in which it might support our ability to develop and change are additional topics covered in the book.

Love: Samantha and AJ are romantically involved in the book. Throughout the book, the difficulties of youthful love are discussed, including the dread of rejection and the difficulty of juggling a new relationship with other elements of life.

Acceptance: Samantha has challenges throughout the book that she finds difficult to accept, especially when she strives to fit in with her popular friend circle. She gradually figures out how to accept and belong to herself and in unexpected places. The work also addresses issues of tolerance, the value of diversity and empathy.

About the Author

NameTamara Ireland Stone
Birthdate8 December 1969
BirthplaceFrankfurt, Germany
CareerNovelist, writer, and former tech executive
Notable Works“Time Between Us” series, “Every Last Word”, “Little Do We Know”
AwardsWinner of the California Book Award, winner of the Cybils Award, nominee for the Carnegie Medal


What is Every Last Word about?

A high school student called Samantha McAllister is the subject of the young adult book Every Last Word. She seems to have it all: popularity, excellent looks and a hip circle of friends. Samantha, however, experiences obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and feels unable to disclose this to others. She starts to feel like she can be herself and realizes there’s more to life than what she’s been experiencing when she makes a bunch of new pals at a secret poetry club.

Is Every Last Word based on a true story?

No, “Every Last Word” is a fictional piece. Nonetheless, Tamara Ireland Stone, the book’s author, has acknowledged in interviews that she conducted in-depth study into OCD and spoke with specialists to ensure that the illness was accurately depicted in the work.

What is the writing style of “Every Last Word” like?

Every Last Word is written in the first person since Samantha is the narrator. It is therefore immensely meaningful and personal. The work also contains poetry, which lends the story more intensity and emotion.

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