Just Listen, by Sarah Dessen
Imagine that you live in a beautiful home, belong to a well-to-do family, get good grades and spend a lot of your free time modeling for some of the hottest local clothing stores. Your life would seem pretty perfect, right? Well, this is not the reality for Annabel Greene, the main character in Sarah Dessen’s book, Just Listen.
Just Listen begins with Annabel watching herself in a television commercial she filmed for a local department store. The commercial portrays her as the perfect teenager and the girl who has everything. Within the first few pages, we see that she isn’t anything like her character in the commercial. Her home life is full of tension as her family struggles to help one of her sisters overcome an eating disorder and her former best friend, Sophie, hates her and isolates Annabel from everyone else at school. Well, almost everyone…
During the first couple of weeks of school, Annabel keeps to herself and barely talks to anyone else. Then one day, she begins talking to Owen Armstrong, another isolated student. Owen is the complete opposite of Annabel; she is timid and afraid to offend anyone, even if it means lying to them or not sticking up for herself. Owen on the other hand is in anger management for his hot temper and is always honest to people, no matter what.
The two of them begin a friendship that is based on complete honesty. Owen never holds back with Annabel, and she does the same with him, even if it means criticizing his alternative taste in music. This continues for the majority of the book until a scandal at school brings people closer to knowing why exactly Sophie and Annabel are no longer friends. Annabel is so shaken by this that she can’t tell anyone what really happened – not even Owen. Eventually Owen helps Annabel find the courage to have her voice heard - in more ways than one. At the end of the book, Annabel’s life still isn’t perfect, but it’s pretty close.
At 371 pages, you may think that Just Listen is a little bit long, but this novel is easy-to-read and can be finished in a few short days. Almost any girl can relate to one of the characters, even if just a little bit. This, along with contemporary prose, makes this book a great read for a weekend or a holiday break.
Genre: Juvenile Fiction, Social Issues, Dating & Sex
For more information on Just Listen and the author, Sarah Dessen, visit these sites:
- Just Listen on the author's official website
- Read excerpts from the book on Google Books
- Read quotations by the author, Sarah Dessen
- An interpretation of the book using The Sims 2 on YouTube
This book sounds very interesting and Annabel seems like my kind of character. The kind of girl that seems vulnerable but has all this strength and power deep within her that's just about to burst out with a little push. Think I might read it :)
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