On the outside, Samantha McAllister looks just like every other popular girl in school. Beneath her carefully perfected appearance, she hides a secret. She has Purely-Obsessional OCD and can’t turn off the dark thoughts that plagued her without warning. Her friends turn their backs for something as minor as wearing the wrong outfit so Sam can’t let them know about her OCD. When Sam meets Caroline, she has to keep their new friendship a secret or risk losing the protection of the popular group. Caroline quickly becomes Sam’s rock and introduces her to Poet’s Corner, a room hidden away from everything else where kids, outcasts, come together to form a tight-knit group. Sam feels drawn to them and can’t stop thinking about the boy with the guitar whose words spoke to her. Slowly, she starts to feel more like she belongs with this group than with her popular friends. Could she be getting better or is everything going to start crumbling down?
The best way to describe how I felt while reading this book? It consumed me. I loved the writing, I loved the premise, I loved the characters, I was high invested in Sam’s journey. I just didn’t want to stop reading until I’d read the last page. This was on my list of highly anticipated books for 2015 and I’m so happy I wasn’t disappointed.
Samantha quickly became a favourite character. I could understand her fear of being found out by her friends and her reasoning for staying within their protection. Her friendship with that group, nicknamed the Crazy 8s, was not healthy for her but there were so many good memories that I completely got Sam not wanting to break away from that. She started off the book insecure, especially at her place within the Crazy 8s, and later within Poet’s Corner. It was great to see her slowly gaining confidence to stand up for herself and to expose her writing to her new group. It was little steps but important steps that lead to so much character growth.
I loved her friendship with Caroline. She was exactly what Sam needed to start breaking away from the Crazy 8s and get involved with the group at Poet’s Corner. There was always an easy-to-talk-to feel to their friendship and nothing but support. I also completely loved the slow developing romance between Sam and A.J. From the moment they met, I was waiting for something to happen but I’m glad it was slow. A.J. just seemed like he got Sam and they fit well together. So many of the minor characters, especially those in Poet’s Corner, played roles in Sam’s growth and had their own small moments. Sydney, Emily, Abigail, Cameron, the poems they read exposed the reader to their struggles and their feelings just as much as A.J.’s songs and Sam’s writing.
The plot did take some unexpected twists that I didn’t see coming until right before it was revealed. There was a brief moment of suspicion then the jaw dropped. It was fantastic and it hurt and I won’t say any more.
Definitely a book worth checking out.
*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.