My overwhelming feeling towards this book is frustration. I’ve never read a book about mental illness that is so lacking. Sam comes across as an insecure, confused girl who overthinks things, not as someone genuinely ill. There are only select moments throughout the novel where she feels genuine. I feel no connection to her, other than feeling she’s an idiotic brat. OCD is an illness, a real illness, and although it comes in many forms, manifests in many ways, it cannot be cured with love. I call bullshit on anyone who believes a real illness can be cured by love. Of course removing toxic people from your life will help your mental wellbeing, but this book feels like a mockery of something very real and very scary.
I don’t buy into it, I can’t believe in it. I don’t need every sentence to say ‘it’s because of my OCD’; ‘it’s because of mental illness’; ‘people might think I’m crazy’. I get it; I do not need reminding on what feels like every other page. This book is like one of those people who have to scream their every affliction from the rooftop, like something isn’t real unless it’s announced all the time. This story may ring true for some, but not for me. Maybe I’m just ignorant about this particular illness, but as someone suffering from and surrounded by mental illness, I can’t help but feel this book should make sense to me, should reach out to me, and it doesn’t.
A person is not defined by illness, whether that illness is physical or mental. A person is more than that, but Every Last Word reduces Sam to her OCD, and then has her miraculously pushing bad thoughts and obsessive behaviour away because of a guy?! She’s been in therapy and on meds for five years and you want me to believe she suddenly gets over it all because of love. Love that is a potentially fleeting teenage romance? Give me a fucking break. And the whole thing with Caroline? Can’t even go into it, it’s that ridiculous.
This book could have worked if it was simply about an insecure teenage girl who was finding herself. We all know it’s hard growing up; it’s hard finding a place in this world sometimes. This could have been another sugary but ultimately heart-warming coming-of-age tale. That would have worked. As it is, it didn’t, and I am annoyed. Annoyed for myself, and for other sufferers of mental illness. This story is not believable as an account of someone with OCD and I would not advise someone with a genuine mental illness to read this, as it will just make you mad. And if this is your experience of mental illness, all I can say is you are luckier than most.
Read: September 29th-October 3rd 2015