Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Source: Netgalley and Disney-Hyperion in exchange for an honest review. Receiving the book in no way alters my opinion or review.
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 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.
So Many Feels for this book... I am not even sure where to begin. So far every book I have read by Tamara Ireland Stone has been great. I enjoy her characters and their lives and they are relatable, but I think Sam takes the cake in this area. She is by far the most realistic of characters I have read in a long time and it isn't just because of the OCD, that is a big factor but her troubles and worries are that of a teenage girl in high school and I really appreciate that.
This book was so much deeper than I ever expected and while maybe not the most realistic portrayal of OCD in a person it was still VERY well done. As a reader who suffers from anxiety issues, a lot of this was an approachable take on mental illness (esp. for younger readers).
The story follows Sam as she is learning how to handle herself and her life in high school. It is not how she wants it to be and her 'friends' aren't the greatest group, especially because she feels she cannot tell them about her illness. Sam goes out of her way to find something better and happens upon the Poet's Corner, a way to break out of her 'normal' surroundings and people and be herself in front of others. In doing this she finds her true voice, friendship, herself through the 'crazy', and even a partner.
The book made me think about what it means to be different, about bullying, about mental illness, about friends, and about emotions. It was a lot of feels in one place and the last 6 chapters had me in tears, and not because it was sad - but because it was an elegant ending to an emotional roller coaster. I would recommend this book to everyone.