Keeping this review relatively spoiler-free is going to be a challenge, but I will try my best.
I thought that Sam was a really brilliant character. You could clearly see her fight with mental illness throughout the book, and her struggle to become the person she hopes to be. Slowly, she evolved into that person, which was beautiful to see. And, as someone who had been swimming for the summer swim team ten years straight, I really enjoyed reading about her love for the water. It made me very very nostalgic, I might have to start swimming again.
The poetry element in this book is awesome. As a amateur poet myself I could completely relate to her drive to scribble in her notebooks all night long, not realizing when the sun began to rise. Hearing all the different styles of poetry from each of the poets was so fun to read, yet heartbreaking at times. Also, I TOTALLY WANT A POET'S CORNER AT MY SCHOOL!!! Reading about that small nook in the school was so interesting to me, a place of quiet and safety that allows escape from the stress and drama of high school life.
Each character that Stone crafted was unique and added a new element to the novel. Caroline with her originality and confidence was a brilliant addition in the book who aided Sam's growth past her anxiety and OCD to someone who had control over her life. And AJ who plays the guitar, is poetic and terribly kind, was amazing. I love love love him. And, unlike other books of this genre, Sam and AJ's relationship wasn't love at first sight. Actually, quite the opposite. Throughout the book, I was able to see their foundation forming and their relationship growing slowly but surely into something truly beautiful.
Tamara Ireland Stone's novel was full of strong themes of mental illness, learning to trust, and discovering identity. With strong character/relationship development and brilliant diction, I would definitely recommend this book. Just be warned that I did cry. Twice.