Every Last Word Book Jacket by Tyler

EveryLastWord Overview: Every Last Word by Tamara Ireland Stone 

Junior in high school, Samantha McAllister is struggling with figuring out who she is. She may be on the swim team, have perfectly brushed hair, and flawless makeup but on the inside, she is completely lost. Sam struggles with uncontrollable dark thoughts due to her Purely-Obsessional OCD. The only people she can talk to about her OCD with are her family and the therapist she sees weekly. Sam has never thought about telling her friends about her OCD because she doesn’t want them to thinks she’s weird and she definitely doesn’t want to lose her spot in the popular group.

When Sam meets a girl named Caroline in which she automatically connects with, she keeps their friendship a secret due to Caroline’s social status. Caroline show’s Sam to a hidden part of school that they call the Poets Corner in which students who don’t “fit” in can be come together and be themselves. Sam immediately feels more comfortable with them than she has ever felt with her popular friends. She begins to discover a part of herself she didn’t think she had. Everything is going well for Sam until there is a new reason for her to question her identity.

About the Author

            Tamara Ireland Stone’s first job after college was being a public relations firm. Tamara was once a school teacher as well. She has always had a strong passion for journalism no matter how old she was. Tamara would come home from school and just write for 5 hours straight. Although she never planned on becoming an author because of the fear of others reading her work, she has now successfully written over 25 books. Every Last Word became the New York Time’s Bestseller. She based this story based off of a family friend who became diagnosed with OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). Tamara wanted to learn more about this disorder and strived to relate and truly understand her.  Tamara is now happily living in California with her 2 children, her husband, and her job as a full-time journalist.

 

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Dear Sherman Alexie by Tyler

Dear Mr. Sherman Alexie,

Young kids seem to go through life without a care in the world. I didn’t overthink anything as a child. When my grandmother passed away, I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand why my mom was not herself. As an 8th grader reflecting on these past few years, things began to make more sense as I got older. I started to feel the pain I didn’t understand a few years back. In your novel The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Junior was not a young kid who didn’t care about what people thought of him. Towards the beginning of the book, I noticed that judgement was affecting him in a negative way. I saw a shift in Junior’s character from the beginning to the end of the book. The shift was when he realized what mattered and what didn’t. What mattered to him was Rowdy and his family. There were deaths and moments where Junior felt weak but it all shaped who he became at the end of the book.  Junior shaping into the strong guy he became at the end of the book showed me that you don’t have to be a young kid to not care what people think about you.

All throughout the book, Junior seemed to have been dealing with some sort of loss whether it was his best friend or his grandma. Those parts of the novel hit me hard because it shows me how quick somebody can be gone. Whenever someone would die, he would be surprised. It’s hard to live your life expecting the unexpected but your book showed that sometimes it’s all we can do to prevent getting hurt later down the road.  

One question in your novel, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian gave me the opportunity to be honest with myself. “Do you know the worst things about being poor?” Instantly when I read that question I thought that being poor was just not having money. Being poor is way more than just not having enough money for a meal. Junior had missed some day of school because either his dad was too drunk to take him, or he didn’t have enough money to go on the school trips that the rest of the class was attending.  Before reading the novel, something that I would’ve considered a “bad day” would’ve been an amazing day for Junior. I was put in a position of taking a minute to realize all there is to be thankful for. Not only do I know now all I have to be grateful for, but I have an understanding of poverty and how it truly does affect lives.

Your novel taught me so many lessons I can carry out through my life. The most important thing I took from your novel was that growing up shouldn’t affect the way I judge myself. Not caring about what anyone thinks about me shouldn’t just be something that happens as a “young kid”. Junior realized that all he needed was a true friend and his family. Once he began to accept himself as who he is, others did also and that is truly inspiring.

Sincerely,

Tyler H.

 

Dreams Can Come True by Tyler

I heard my heart pounding as I slowly walked up the stairs dragging my feet along each cold, hard step one by one. On the way to my bedroom, I began to replay the words of my father that ruined my hope for a good 9th birthday.

You can hardly take care of yourself, what makes you think that you can take care of animal?  There are more reasons beyond that sweetie, reasons you would just never understand at your age. A dog is just not an option for us this year, your mother and I are sorry. I was the type of person who didn’t ask for much unless it was Christmas or my birthday.  So once my birthday came around, I finally got the courage to ask my parents for what I had been dreaming about ever since I was a little girl. A puppy. I fell in love with the idea of having a puppy one rainy, spring day when I was 6 years old. My mommy needed to stop at the grocery store on the way home from picking me up from school so I tagged along with her. As we got out of the car, I noticed something moving behind a tree near the store. Out of curiosity, I ran to the tree with my navy rain boots squeaking after me each step of the way. I heard my mom yelling after me telling me to come back but I did not listen. I slowly approached the tree and saw a dog all alone rolling around in the grass. My first instinct was to call my mom over to me to come look. As she ran to where I was, I yelled out to her and said,

“Mommy! Look! It’s a dog all alone out in the rain. Can we take her home? Please?,”

She explained to me that a dog that was all alone like this was called a stray dog. She didn’t want to take the dog back to our house and post signs around the area because there was no guarantee that the owner of this small Chihuahua would call. Instead, my mom wanted to make sure the dog was healthy and then drop it dog off at a dog shelter. As we rode in the car to get to the vet, the puppy laid in my lap. Her tiny brown paws rested on the seat while her head was rested on my soggy pants that the rain soaked up. I stroked her smooth, thin fur during the whole car ride. That was the first time I had ever held a dog in my entire life. I temporarily named her Lacy so we could give the vet a name. It was in that very moment when I realized that I wanted my own dog to take care of. Even though I just met that dog and I didn’t know the story behind it, I believed it was a sign that I should get a dog. 3 years has passed since I first met Lacy and I still haven’t forgotten about her.

Once I open the door to my room, I walk in and rush to the window. I turned my head to the park that was next to my house and see people walking their dogs. Individuals were always walking their dogs and it never seemed to bother me until I knew it would never be me. I then imagined that as my family. Our dog on a leash, leading the way, while my mom, my dad, and I are behind the puppy feeling laughing at her every move. I soon hear a knock on my door and quickly shut my dusty blinds and snap back into reality. My door cracks open and my father’s head peeks through,

“I want to let you know that I’ll be out of town today and Sunday, but I will be back just in time for your birthday on Monday. Come give me a hug before I go,” He said as if he was trying to sound as if we did not just have a conversation about him ruining my birthday. My dad travels a lot for his job so I am hoping he doesn’t get caught up in his work and forget my birthday. It was bad enough that I wasn’t getting my dream dog, I didn’t want my dad to not be there. I run to him putting on a smile and give him a hug. I figured that being upset with my parents would not help my situation. Although I was upset, I was not going to let this define me. My mother once told me that it isn’t about how you act when you everything, but how you react when you have nothing.

The weekend went by pretty fast. My mom and I spent the whole day together on Sunday going shopping as an early birthday present. Once we got back to the house, I knew I was definitely not getting a dog. I was learning to be okay with that but I suddenly lost control. My feet had a mind of their own and rushed up the steps. I slammed the door shut quiet enough so that my mom wouldn’t hear, but strong enough that a picture on my wall fell down, blowing to an empty corner of my room. My eyes began to water and soon enough, I felt a tear drop down my hurt face. One came after another and I began to just let it all out instead of hiding it in. I felt a connection with Lacy. Although she was just a dog, I wanted to tell her everything. I never got that chance and now that I am not getting a dog, I never will. After drawing from an old coloring book to relax myself, I climbed into bed. Anxiety filled my stomach about how tomorrow was going to turn out. My thoughts soon faded into nothing and I felt my eyes shut slowly.

The next morning began with my mother bursting into my room singing happy birthday to me. My smile brightened as I became more and more awake. She handed me a tray of orange juice, bacon, and pancakes, my favorite. Everything looked amazing! Only one thing was missing-my father. I gave my mom a big hug and right before I was about to ask where my dad was, I heard singing from down the hall,

“Happy birthday to you…” my father began to sing.

“Daddy?” I asked shocked that he actually made it in time.

“Hi princess,” my dad started as his voice got closer and closer. As he walked into the room he chuckled and said, “You really don’t think I could’ve forgotten about your birthday, do you?”

“Of course not, daddy. Thank you so much.” I said trying to focus on the good and not the fact that I had no dog. I thought back to my weekend reminding myself that I will do just fine without a new puppy.

“Oh how could I forget,” my father began to quickly walk out of the door. “I found you something on the road trip home,” he said sounding eager.

My mom suddenly pulled out her video camera out of her blue jean pocket and I just sat on my bed looking confused. I was thinking that maybe he got me a key chain or something on his way home. My mom pointed the video camera towards the narrow door as my dad joyfully walked back into my bedroom. Once I got a glimpse of what my mom was filming, I felt my heart melt. I froze and thought back to the first time I saw Lacy.  Immediately, I pushed my breakfast aside and dove into the smooth carpet. A petite, unstable puppy was sniffing around the ground getting used to our new home. She had a brown tiny head that poked out of her soft, small black body. I was in shock- complete shock. I didn’t know what to ask my parents because so many questions filled up inside of my head. I tried to ask them something but nothing would come out of my mouth. When I landed next to my new puppy, she rolled on the ground expecting me to rub her stomach. She only looked about a few months old and I could already tell that she was so much different than Lacy. She was so much fuller of energy and surprisingly, I liked it. Nothing had ever felt so unreal in my entire life. After rubbing her stomach, I picked her up and gently held her in my arms. I couldn’t help but glance at my parents grinning faces and the video camera my mother was still holding. I glanced back down at my new puppy struggling to get out of my arms to discover more about the new world that stood in front of her. Before setting her down, I brought her close to me, whispered to her and said,

“I’m going to call you Charmaine and I will love you forever.”