by Tamara Ireland Stone
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Publication Date: June 16th 2015 by Disney Hyperion
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Source: Publisher via Netgalley
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.
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
I had requested this copy as soon as I read the description but then forgot about it. I started reading it, not remembering what it was about and I was taken by surprise. I am a Psychology major and this story fascinated me so much. This is not your normal contemporary, girly, cliche story. It’s not focused on romance. It is more focused on Sam, the main character’s life and her conflict with dealing with OCD and keeping it a secret from her friends. Until one day Sam meets Caroline, a girl who has her own demons and she introduces Sam to Poet’s Corner, a place where teens go to talk about their feelings through poems. But everything is not what it seems and Sam’s sanity really is questioned.
Did this book give me goosebumps? Yes, it really did. I was surprised and fascinated by everything I was reading. Sam’s character fascinated me to no end. Even though she is dealing with OCD—more on the obsessive side than compulsive—she has set goals for herself. Sam doesn’t whine about her disorder or her life. She gets that she has to live with it and has no choice but to keep fighting forward. Sam’s character grows as the story progresses. The reader gets to know how Sam keeps dealing with her disorder yet it gets to a point where she doesn’t let it stop her. I related to Sam because I write poems a lot, especially when I’m in my dark moods or just feel like writing how I’m feeling. Anyways, I wish I had a Poet’s Corner at my school or even at college. That would have been so liberating, knowing I’m not the only one. Everything in the room was described so vividly that the reader will be able to picture everything in the room.
I didn’t like Sam’s friends. It’s as if they were a clique and no one could have other friends besides them. They would exclude Sam from everything, though! I hated them for it. And one of the reasons why I disliked Sam was because she kept her new friends from Poet’s Corner a secret because her “besties” couldn’t know about them or else she would be kicked out of their group. The other supporting characters, like Emily, Sydney, AJ and Caroline were amazing. Those are real friends that I wish I had in school. Those that actually understand you even if you haven’t told them what you are going through. That’s how they were with Sam. They were there to support her.
The one friendship that stands out is Sam’s and Caroline’s. As soon as they meet, they click, they connect, they understand one another right off the bat. Caroline helped Sam grow out of her shell and expand her horizons. She brought her to Poet’s Corner so Sam wouldn’t feel alone. Caroline was there through every step of the way until the end. Caroline doesn’t feel ashamed of being Sam’s friend, knowing she has OCD. Instead, she helps Sam control her thoughts and is there for her every step of the way. A friendship like that is definitely one to admire. But there is a surprise at the end that left me speechless. The thought had crossed my mind but I dismissed it and then it took me by surprise! It is very interesting.
Overall, this story was quite eye-opening and very respectful when it came to this serious matter. I loved that the author included therapy sessions with Sam and her psychiatrist so the reader gets a glimpse to how that life can be. If you are interested in reading a YA Contemporary story that focuses on personal growth amidst a personal battle with mental health that can be eye-opening, I really recommend this story for you.
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