Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone [ARC]

Sam has OCD, heavier on the obsessive than the compulsive. She’s prone to dangerous thought spirals that leave her reeling and feeling out of control. She and her family have successfully hidden her disorder from her group of friends, the Crazy Eights. She’s been friends with these girls (now down to five) since Kindergarten and worries that having OCD would ruin her reputation as one of the popular girls. Then she meets Caroline. Caroline doesn’t care what other people think of her. She leads Sam to a new place called Poet’s Corner. It’s a hidden room below the school and what she finds there just might “change her life.”
every last word

I LOVE THIS COVER. It’s so simple, but when you read the book, it really makes sense. As the story begins, I had the feeling that this book was somewhat reminiscent of a Sarah Dessen book, but a little darker–meaner almost. I think that initial impression was pretty true. Our main character feels a little lost but then meets a new group of friends who help her to find herself…yeah that sounds familiar haha. I absolutely love the idea of Poet’s Corner. I’m not the best writer and I would be absolutely HOPELESS at poetry, but it seems like a place where I could just absorb the genius coming from everyone else. Also, those walls sound AMAZING. Reading about Poet’s Corner makes me wonder what hidden clubs existed at my own high school. Who knows?

I liked all of the characters, even the Crazy Eights. I thought everyone had some depth to them even if they were a pretty minor character. The fact that Poet’s Corner is a place where everyone could share really personal things made it so that Sam (and us as readers) got to know the participants really well, really fast. The only criticism I have on the character choices there is that I feel like there should have been a pair of siblings? I don’t know…with eight people it seems like there should have been a pair of siblings in there and I feel like that would have changed the dynamic of the group a bit and had some interesting performance possibilities. But really, that’s so minor and I’m 100% positive that I’m the only one who’s had that thought.

AJ was a little too good to be true in my opinion. He forgave Sam really fast for what she did to him in elementary school. Maybe my perception would be different if we’d gotten a chance to read Sam’s apology poem, but we don’t. So now I just feel like she tormented him when they were little and now he’s just like “Whatever” and then they’re together. Doesn’t really make sense to me. Another thing, the poem that Sam starts to read when she gets up onstage for the first time…I was POSITIVE that she was going to get back up onstage eventually and read it to the group and I was really excited to read it! But then she didn’t. So…I feel like that was a missed opportunity on the author’s part. Lastly, I liked Sam’s relationship with her family. It seemed really solid. I just wish we got to see more of them because they seemed really awesome.

Overall, I liked this book a lot. It felt real and raw and there were a lot of emotions involved. I feel like it gave me a different perspective on people who have OCD. I really liked Sam’s therapist and how she relates Sam’s condition with the man who could hear in color. Also, did not see that twist coming. WHOA.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate. Some brief, strong language.
Violence: None
Sexual Content: Mild. One scene in particular, but not explicit.
Smoking/Drinking: Mild

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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DISCUSSION: Parental Advisory for books

This is a new segment that I hope to start up where I’ll have a topic that I’ve done a little research on, and then hopefully we can get a nice discussion going.

Today’s topic: Parental Advisory for books.

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Anyone who has read any of my reviews will notice that I include a short review on content at the end. Basically I list a level (ranging from none to explicit) for four categories: language, violence, sexual content, and smoking/drinking. I’ve made a personal decision to be a little more careful about what kind of content I read, and I supply this information because I think it could be helpful to others.

Something that I’ve wondered about is why don’t books have parental advisory labels or ratings already? Thinking about other forms of media, most come with ratings (ex. movies, music, video games). However, in researching this topic, I was surprised to find that these ratings are not actually mandatory (at least for music and movies, the article I read didn’t say anything about video games). Movie ratings were described as being “de facto mandatory”. Which means, legally it’s not mandatory, but practically it is. This is because many theater chains refuse to show movies that are not rated (which would significantly cut into profits). I do wonder if the popularity of RedBox will have any effect on this, but that’s a completely separate discussion. For music, it’s completely voluntary and there’s little regulation. “Explicit content” has no specific definition and it’s up to the artists and their labels to determine whether their album falls under that category and if it does, then they have to decide whether or not to label it.

The article that I looked at from E Online listed a couple of reasons why books are not and should not be rated. The first is that unlike someone choosing a movie or video game, someone choosing a book can talk to a librarian or someone working at a bookstore to determine whether or not the content is appropriate. Honestly, this seemed like a really weak argument to me. Word of mouth works really well for books, but not for movies or video games? Meh. Not seeing it. The second argument definitely held more weight. The article talked about the sheer volume of books that are published every year versus the number of movies. I see how this could be problematic. But how many people read through a book before it’s published by a major publisher? I’m genuinely asking this question because I don’t know. But if enough people are reading through it before publication, it seems like they could each submit a rating for it and then there could be some system for combining the ratings or something like that.

Okay, so maybe by now you’re convinced that we could hypothetically have a parental advisory or some sort of rating system for books. Here’s the question: Should we do it? If not, do you feel that other forms of media should be unrated as well? Why? If you do think we should have parental advisory, why? Do you think that rating books is practical or not?

Please, I’d like to hear from everyone but BE KIND. In the end, we’re just a bunch of people who love books but probably have different opinions–especially since this issue does not have a right or wrong answer.

Sources:
http://www.eonline.com/news/314975/should-50-shades-of-grey-come-with-a-parental-advisory-sticker
http://www.npr.org/sections/therecord/2010/10/29/130905176/you-ask-we-answer-parental-advisory—why-when-how