“You seem to know how to articulate your feelings and share them with other human beings. I’m afraid my gift is the exact opposite; I’m skilled at holding everything in.”
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 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.
This is my favorite YA book of the year and possibly the best YA book I have ever read. It is a heartbreakingly honest portrayal of adolescence, high school, friendships, first love and mental illness.
Recently, I have found it rather difficult to read contemporary young adult books as I am no longer a teenager or even a college student and adult life is here, whether I am ready for it or not. I have been struggling to connect with the stories but this book proved that YA can still evoke real emotion and meaning.
The protagonist makes mistakes throughout the book but she owns up to them and continues to grow and mature as the story progresses. The book is about letting go of unhealthy relationships, being honest with those you love, accepting yourself and moving on. Thank you, Tamara Ireland Stone for creating this richly beautiful novel. 5 out of 5 Stars.