Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone takes a hard look at having OCD and trying to conceal it from those around you.
Every Last Word is the story of Sam, a popular girl trying to hide who she really is, a girl with Purelt-Obsessional OCD. She questions all of her decisions and fights to keep her perfect facade in place. Sam meets Caroline and her world begins to change. The pressure of being perfect eases and Sam feels more “normal” than she has in forever but in order to protect herself Sam keeps her friendship with Caroline a secret.
This is a story about keeping secrets, figuring out who you really are, and trying to survive high school. Written in beautiful prose, Every Last Word gives you a first hand look at what is means to have OCD and the challenges of surviving high school.
About the music
The song AJ sings is one of my favorites, “So Long, Lazy Ray”, written and recorded by a good friend. When I was first writing this scene, this song immediately came to mind, so I added a few lines as placeholders. I intended to write lyrics of my own, but “Lazy Ray” just… stuck. I felt like it belonged there.
This story is ultimately about learning to be brave with your words. Throughout the process of writing it, I’ve repeatedly—and totally by accident—discovered some incredibly talented teens, sharing their poetry and music with the world. They’re brave. And they’ve inspired me.
In the spirit of honoring one of these brave teen voices, Joe Rut, the original artist of “So Long, Lazy Ray” not only gave me permission to use his beautiful lyrics in Every Last Word, he also gave a nod to an extremely talented 17-year-old musician, allowing him to re-record and put his own spin on the song.
It’s my honor to share it with you today. Introducing Henry Hodder, performing “So Long, Lazy Ray.” Music and lyrics by Joe Rut.
From the author
I first became interested in telling a story about a teen with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) when a close family friend was diagnosed four years ago, at age twelve. I sympathized with and related to her battle with insomnia, her struggles with her friends, and her challenges to control a stream of negative, often terrifying thoughts. She was eager to share her experience, and I was honored when she agreed to work with me on this novel.
But my interest in “special minds” started long before I began writing this story.
When I was in my late twenties, I had the unique opportunity to work closely with Steve Jobs. My most memorable experience was working on the Think Different campaign team. You might recall the commercial featuring well-known people and a voiceover that began, “Here’s to the crazy ones.” It paid tribute to the creative minds, the ones who didn’t fit in to society’s definition of “normal.” It honored those who saw the world differently.
While a girl with OCD was always at the heart of this story, I began weaving in others who’d had a profound impact on me over the years. Like the housepainter, whose nearly debilitating stutter disappeared completely the moment he began painting. Or the boy with Tourette’s Syndrome, who once told me he only feels like an ordinary kid when he’s pitching a baseball. And a woman with synesthesia, who loves the way her mind works because she hears music in color.
As the story began to unfold on the page, I discovered that I was also tapping into many of my own personal experiences, too. I was writing a story about finding your best friend in an unexpected place, and learning to become your own best friend. And about finding the strength to say goodbye to people who
might be a big part of your past, but you know in your heart don’t belong in your future. About being on both sides of bullying.
And I was telling a story about the healing power of words.
My family moved a lot when I was young. Seven schools in twelve years meant a constantly changing group of friends and often feeling like the odd girl out. That’s when I turned to my notebooks. Words became my friends when I didn’t have many real ones, and while I never shared my stories, poems, and journal entries with anyone, the simple act of putting my thoughts on paper saved my life in some very real ways.
This is a story about a girl with OCD who discovers an underground poetry club and a group of very special people who change her life in some unexpected ways. But it’s also a story about a girl falling in love with writing and learning to be brave with her words.