Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Pub Date: April 2006, Penguin Young Readers Group
Trade paperback, 371 pages
Annabel Greene is the girl who has everything. At least, that's what she portrays in her modeling shoots. But Annabel's life is far from perfect. Her friendship with Sophie ended bitterly and her older sister's eating disorder is weighing down the entire family. Isolated and ostracized at school and at home, Annabel retreats into silent acceptance. Then she meets Owen--intense, music-obsessed, and determined to always tell the truth. And with his guidance, Annabel learns to just listen to herself and gains the courage to speak honestly. But will she be able to tell everyone what really happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends?
With most of my recent reading revolving around the paranormal and fantasy dramas, it was nice to pick up a book that could have been about someone who lived down the street from me. Well, that might be a bit of a stretch, but I'm sure you understand my point.
I had never read anything by Sarah Dessen, though I knew of her popularity and I believe there is also a Sarah Dessen reading challenge out there. I now understand why. I have to admit that Just Listen is probably not a book I would normally pick up. Honestly, I'm not much for reading books that deal with various psychological and physical issues, such as eating disorders and so on. But I happened to see this on a bargain shelf (why it was there, I'm not sure) and I knew how great Dessen's books were supposed to be, so I decided to give it a try.
I am so glad I did! Dessen's writing style was spot on for this book, in my opinion. I felt like I was reading about teenagers who could have been real people. Nothing ever felt forced or fake about this story, which was refreshing to me. The characters were so well-developed and realistic I often had to remind myself I was reading a fictional book and not someone's memoir. Annabel's growth throughout the story was handled very well, too--she didn't magically have all the answers but made progress, slipped a few steps, but carried on. As for Owen, I loved his character and the part he played in Annabel's growth. As for the other characters--Annabel's sisters and friends, in particular--I wouldn't be surprised if you could think of people you knew when you read about them. There is only one reason I can't give this book a five star rating, and that is because it was sometimes difficult to distinguish the transitions into Annabel's memories from what was actually going on at the moment. I would find myself confused only to realize that she was remembering something that had happened a year, or several years earlier. Other than that, I really thought this book was extremely well-written--it had me hooked the entire time.
So, in case you were wondering, I will definitely be checking out other books by Sarah Dessen.
Other reviews of Just Listen:
Dear Author ~ An Adventure In Reading
The Ravenous Reader ~ Book Addiction ~ bookshelves of doom
Hope's Bookshelf ~ Zoe's Book Reviews
A High And Hidden Place
If you have reviewed this book and don't see your site listed above, please leave a comment with the link to your review and I'll add it to the list!