Overall Score: 9/10
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Mental Health
Release Date: June 16th, 2015
Book Summary (From GoodReads)
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.
I wouldn’t have picked this book up on my own but, after finishing it, I was incredibly glad that someone in my book club picked this one. It was sweet, touching, and had a great message.
The story revolves around Samantha, or Sam, a high schooler who is trying to hide her OCD from everyone except her family and therapist. Since I have no reference point, I don’t know how accurate the portrayal of her OCD is. However, I do believe that the author does a good job of examining the current stigma regarding mental illness, particularly in the context of high school.
This book had some definite similarities to The Dead Poets Society (minus a Robin Williams character) but it worked. Through poetry, many of the characters in the novel find freedom and a way to deal with major life events. The other members of the Poet’s Corner were well-developed characters and the community they built was something wonderful to see. The romance wasn’t the highlight of the book for me but it wasn’t off-putting either.
Sam’s journey through the novel was not what I was expecting. Seeing her learn how to trust, both in herself and others, was the highlight of the novel for me. Her character really grows in a variety of ways in this book. She identifies toxic friendships, finds her inner strength, and learns to accept herself for who she is.
This book was a joy to read, with interesting characters and a charming plot. While it didn’t delve as deeply into some topics as i would have liked, it was a very good young adult book that has a universal message.