Author: Tamara Ireland Stone
Genre: YA Contemporary
Length: 368 Pages
Release: June 2015
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
I received a copy of this novel through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This novel deals with some pretty hard subject matter. Sam, the main character, deals with OCD. In her case, the obsessive aspect tends to be more of a concern and she's constantly having to fight away negative thoughts and panic attacks. None of this is helped by her "best" friends-a group of girls who have known each other since kindergarten and despite their growing differences refuse to go separate ways.
Sam meets and befriends Caroline-a girl who would never be accepted by her social group-and gets swept into a secret group of poets. We see her dealing with her OCD issues through writing and sharing those thoughts with those around her, something that she has always found extremely difficult. But the teens of Poets Corner know what it's like to be judged, bullied, and shunned, so speaking your mind and accepting yourself is a must.
The novel also touches on bullying and while this is not a major focus of the story it's very important to much of the plot and characterization. There is also some exploration as to how the brain might compensate for the traits you feel you lack. The author handled these difficult topics beautifully and I was very satisfied with the conclusion as far as Sam's OCD and the various other issues introduced were handled. Nothing was glossed over or pushed aside. It was all handled very realistically.
I really enjoyed the characters, but it took me a while to really connect with Sam. In the beginning I wasn't really sure what she wanted or if she really thought change was necessary or good for her. As the story progressed I was able to connect with her more and came to appreciate her and her struggles. I also really loved her developing relationships with the other members of Poets Corner. AJ was particularly nice and I thought they worked really well together.
The use of poetry and the written/spoken word was brilliant. I'm a huge fan of poetry and hearing about these people just jotting down their thoughts in the form of a poem on random bits of paper was wonderful. It reminded me of all of the receipts and chocolate wrappers where I've written out my own poems. Definitely something I can relate to.
My main issue with this novel was the pacing. Through the middle it really felt like nothing was happening. There were important aspects of the story contained here, but it was presented without enough emotion or urgency for me to truly get invested. Toward the end though things picked up a lot and I had a hard time putting the book down.