Problems and solutions

Every Last Word

Everybody thinks they know all about the popular girls, but Samantha, who seems to fit in so well with the Crazy Eights, her clique of too-cool BFFs, has a secret that would destroy her social status. In Every Last Word (Disney-Hyperion, $17.99) a new young adult novel from Tamara Ireland Stone, Samantha is coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder. And it's not pretty. The stress, both of her illness and of hiding it from everyone, is tearing her apart. Then she meets Caroline, who introduces her to the Poet's Corner, a secret group of students with a creative bent. She wants to belong—more, she needs to belong—but there are obstacles. Oh, and romance, of course, because it's a book for teens. But the real key here is that this particular teenage “problem novel” is focused on the solution; it's an accurate and complete characterization of a young woman who is living with a mental illness, not suffering from it. The distinction is important.