Review: Just Listen

Just Listen – Sarah Dessen

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Annabel Greene seemingly had everything: cool friends, close family, good grades, and a part-time modeling career in town. But it all came crashing down, and Annabel has spent the summer in shaky, self-imposed exile. She finds herself dreading the new school term and facing, well, everyone again. The last thing she wants to do is revisit old friendships while the losses are painful, the secrets behind the rifts are almost unbearable. Her solid family seems fragile, too. What happened to cause the stiff silences and palpable resentments between her two older sisters? Why is no one in her loving but determinedly cheerful family talking about her middle sister’s eating disorder? Annabel’s devastating secret is revealed in bits and snatches, as readers see her go to amazing lengths to avoid confrontation. Caught between wanting to protect her family and her own struggles to face a devastating experience, Annabel finds comfort in an unlikely friendship with the school’s most notorious loner. Owen has his own issues with anger, but has learned to control it and helps her realize the dangers of holding in her emotions. Dessen explores the interior and exterior lives of her characters and shows their flaws, humanity, struggles, and incremental successes. This is young adult fiction at its best, delving into the minds of complex, believable teens, bringing them to life, and making readers want to know more about them with each turn of the page.

Just Listen is probably my favorite YA book that I have read in recent years.  The story and the characters were written so well, so perfectly, that I am still thinking about them and wishing I could read some sort of sequel.  I found this to be such a great coming of age type story and I think teens will REALLY relate to the book.

I personally saw a lot of myself in Annabel.  The aspects of her personality that got her into the most trouble – such as not being able to deal with confrontations, wanting everyone to be happy, apologizing for things that weren’t her fault, and just generally being “nice” to everyone – are things I struggle with myself.  I’m not proud of it, but I definitely worry WAY too much about what people think of me, whether or not someone likes me, and I’m constantly making sure that I don’t upset anybody.  I think the fact that I am so much like Annabel made me like the book more, and really helped me to understand her and what she was going through.  Even if your personality is nothing like this, though, I think you’ll still enjoy the book because it really does grab you and make you care about these people and their lives.  You may, however, find yourself being annoyed with Annabel and her inability to just say what she’s feeling, but I don’t think that would hinder the enjoyment of the story too much.

Just Listen is a fabulous book by an author that I’m really starting to love.  I highly recommend picking this one up and I’ll definitely be reading more Dessen in the future.

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5 thoughts on “Review: Just Listen”

  1. “I’m not proud of it, but I definitely worry WAY too much about what people think of me, whether or not someone likes me, and I’m constantly making sure that I don’t upset anybody. ”

    Same here. I REALLY want to read this book.

  2. I just read this a few weeks ago. Not a bad read at all. I thought Owen’s character and his taste in music added so much to the book, he was what kept me really hooked- not that Annabel’s storyline didn’t, but I just really enjoyed Owen and his little anger management class quips and wondering what kind of music he would listen to next. 🙂

    I’ve read, what, two or three Sarah Dessens now, and she’s enjoyable. 🙂

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