Sam is one of the popular girls in high school, a member of the ‘Eights’ the prettiest and most social rung of the high school ladder. She hides a secret though, she lives with OCD that rules her life according to her obsessions and high anxiety.Struggling with starting a new school year and leaving behind the security of ‘summer sam’, her undoubtedly more confident and happy self she find solace in the most unexpected of places. After a chance meeting with a strange but funny girl Caroline she finds herself thrown into a secret world of Poetry Corner. She starts to find that words may be the therapy her therapist can’t provide and her new friends the compassion she always needed. Of course the guitar playing, handsome, brooding blast from her past AJ makes poetry even more appealing.
YA fiction based around mental illness is becoming more and more popular, which in the most part is a fantastic thing. Unfortunately some authors hop on to this bandwagon without the experience or understanding of mental illness and end up making a mockery of the illness and the sufferers.
I am so happy to say this isn’t the case with this book! Stone comments that the end of this book that she had researched this particular facet of OCD (Purely-Obsessional) and goes into detail about a friend of hers that lives with this, hence the realistic view of mental illness. Reading about someone with OCD but not as its widely seen in the media was completely refreshing. Sam suffers from the obsessional thoughts, anxiety and many other symptoms but not the typical ‘i like clean things’ Hollywood OCD we are so used to seeing. It’s fantastic to also have the character aware of the stereotypes that come with her diagnosis, even correcting people that her strain of OCD does not mean she has a super clean room.
Taking the mental illness factor out of this book it is still a great story of a secret poetry club, the stigma that goes with running with a ‘cool’ crowd and learning that you can change as a person, the past you is not you forever. I loved seeing Sam interact with her family, especially her mother that was so sensitive to her problems and dealt with it the way you’d hope every parent would. The therapy sessions are fundamentally positive interactions between Sam and her doctor (and realistic, trust me!).
Of course I can’t finish this review without talking about AJ, the blast from Sams past and her love interest. The romance was sensitive and realistic (you see that theme reoccurring?), never taking too much away from Sams story or hint at the love making her ‘better’.
Now, just a final word on that plot-twist…OHMYGOD….done