Published: June 16th 2015 by Disney-Hyperion
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Illness, Romance
Synopsis: 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.
Spoiler Free Review:
I don’t usually go for contemporary romances, but I made it a 2016 reading goal to read more realistic fiction. Obviously, many people, myself included have a misconception of OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). Not many think of it as a serious problem. OCD is so much more than being a “neat freak.” It is an actual mental illness that can affect a person’s life and the people around them in so many ways. I felt as if this book was proving that stereotype wrong. Showing and opening someone’s eyes to the real mental illness that so many know so little about. I do think that this is a correct portrayal of OCD because the author herself had a family friend experience something similar to what the main character Samantha faced. Tamara Ireland Stone wrote about OCD in a very respectful way, and I appreciate for writing such an important book.
We are introduced to Samantha McAllister, a popular girl just like the rest of her friends. At first, I didn’t like Sam which I guess was because she wasn’t a very likable character. Her so called “friends” were also very unlikable, obviously. I did think that the author did a fairly realistic portrayal of high school bullies. But, honestly the bullies were absolutely horrible. A lot of the things Sam and her “friends” were so incredibly mean, especially the mockery towards a certain character. As for how Sam dealt with her mental illness, that was very interesting. The obsession in OCD was definitely there, but it wasn’t over organization. She would obsess over the smallest of things. It was actually quite alarming at times and I had to remind myself it was fiction. It breaks my heart to know that people deal with this on a daily basis.
One of my favorite parts about the book was the poetry aspect. Poet’s Corner was such a different and clever idea that the author had come up with. I honestly think that this could be a great club to start at high schools. Students deal with a lot of stress at school and home. To have a place where you can express your feelings through words is such a wonderful way of self expression.
My one downfall of the book was the romance. Yes, I did like the “guitar-playing guy”. He was very sweet and supportive. But, the romance was not anything original and felt a little bit forced for me. It was sweet, but it felt the same as other books I’ve read and wasn’t anything too special.
Caroline was such a refreshing character to read about. She was very unique and supportive. I loved the friendship with her and Sam. She had finally found someone who she could tell anything to. I was not expecting the plot twist towards the end of the book. It was such a shock to me. Slowly,things began to piece together and things made a lot more sense. I actually considered that there would be a paranormal turn, but I’m glad to say it did not end up like that. The ending of the book was so powerful and endearing and a great ending to the standalone.
This is a great mental illness book that I highly recommend to teenagers. I think you can take a lot out of it and at the same time, you get this entertaining fictional story.