BOOK REVIEW: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

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Just Listen

by Sarah Dessen

ISBN13: 9780142410974

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Publication date: April 6, 2006

Pages: 383

Genres: Contemporary

Buy from: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository

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Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.

This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

I borrowed this book from a friend. She brought it to school, I saw the pinkish cover that caught my eye from afar as she walked by my class. I thought this was a soft-grunge-romantic-extra-cheese kind of novel but not really. It was more a reality being put into words. Yeah, something like that.

Annabel Greene is the girl who has it all…

She works as a model for various commercials, like her other sisters. She’s portrayed as a beautiful tall blonde girl and has all the spotlight that can be imagined. Her life can’t be any better than it already is, right? But things don’t seem to be fine as it goes by.

Annabel is a push-over. She never speaks up for herself and keeps worrying about people’s thoughts and feelings toward her. She has a story that nobody knows, she prefers to hide her problems to herself rather than telling them to other people. She doesn’t want to hurt her loved ones, so she hurts herself. That what makes her stuck being unhappy in her ‘perfect’ life.

One summer at a party, her life gets worse. She’s avoided by her used-to-be-loyal friend, Sophie, so Annabel isolated herself from the world. Her family also seems to ignore her problems (because Annabel never tells them anything she keeps to herself, that’s why her family thinks she’s alright when she’s not), and begins to focus on her sister’s eating disorder. She is at the point where she doesn’t think she’s visible for anyone. At one time, she meets the most honest person ever, The Antisocial Owen.

The story seemed real

Just Listen was the first Sarah Dessen book I read. This book has strong characters and a simple story line, some protagonists can also fall prey to their own selfishness and cowardice. But it’s somehow realistic. It happens a lot in real life, doesn’t it?

This book teaches us how important honesty is. Owen also tells Annabel to start believing in herself and follow the voice of her own heart. Just because Annabel can’t go well with conflicts that doesn’t mean she can’t handle them by herself. Everything needs time and we all sometimes need others to make a balance in our life.

Annabel is such an amazing character, I liked her. I also liked Mallory, Owen’s sister, who is obsessed with fashion and idolizes Annabel because she’s a Lakeview model. She could be annoying sometimes, but she made me laugh so much. The other thing I liked about this book was its modern setting and realistic life. Oh, and Annabel’s sisters! They were cute. I liked Whitney the most.

There was a little bit of romance happening here even though this book isn’t all about lovey-dovey, it was more about Annabel’s personality and her social life. But I must admit, Annabel and Owen are a perfect match.

“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.”

It sounded cliché

This is what I didn’t enjoy about the book. The setting of the story is in a modern lifestyle, 2000-ish, it tells about a perfect girl living in a big mansion, with her family as models, and rich friends that hold parties every season. The only thing that made me finish the book was Owen. Owen was the most important element in the book, he made a perfect balance. Owen was introduced as a boy with a special personality, he was the diamond in the field of stones.

I enjoyed reading this, but it’s just not my kind of book. At the beginning of the story, I was confused at the settings and I couldn’t figure out the topic. The conflict was, meh. It didn’t come out as what I expected. Is it because I’m more a fantasy and sci-fi person? I don’t know. But overall, it was a good read, I liked the ending. But I’m not looking for more Sarah Dessen. Oh wait, Lock & Key exists, I’m going to read it. Other than that, thank you. Enough for me.

What do you think about Sarah Dessen’s books? Do you enjoy reading them?
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