Sunday, August 5, 2012

YA Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen (Goodreads/ Twitter/ Website)
Number of Pages: 317 pages
Publication Date: April 2006
Publisher:   Viking Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult, Romance
Series or Stand-Alone: Stand-Alone
Book Disclosure: Purchased from Powerbooks


Last year, Annabel Greene 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.

Opening Line: 

I taped the commercial back in April, before anything had happened, and promptly forgot about it. A few weeks ago, it had started running, and suddenly, I was everywhere.


Just Listen is the first book by YA novelist Sarah Dessen that I’ve read, and will definitely not be the last.

Just Listen tells the story of Annabel Greeene, a 17-year old girl who has everything. At least, that’s what she portrays in her modeling shoots. But Annabel’s life was far from perfect. On the summer before her senior year, Annabel’s friendship with Sophie ended bitterly and her sister Whitney’s eating disorder had started weighing down her family. Now feeling ostracized and isolated, Annabel retreats into silent acceptance. Until she meets Owen Armstrong and with his guidance, Annabel learned to listen and gains the courage to speak honestly for herself.

I never thought I would read this book, let alone find myself immersed into the story. I love reading Young Adult books but mostly YA-Fantasy like Harry Potter but after finishing Just Listen, I’ve realized it’s more than just a story of a teenage girl going through the typical high school drama. Just Listen tells the story of each and every one of us - our family, our friendship, betrayal and forgiveness, and most of all our own self.

Just Listen is a unique YA novel in such a way that Dessen had written a powerful and inspiring story with themes that can resonate to all of us. Albeit the high school setting, I found myself not only looking back at my days in school but also realizing how parallel it was to the same issues I’m going on with my life. I found the book really very inspiring and it thought me lessons that can make me become a better person.

Its uniqueness also stems from the way Sarah Dessen had written her characters. They were all well-rounded and real, like I can see a part of myself or someone I know in each and every character in the story. Although a lot of readers seem to admire Owen Armstrong, I found myself drawn to Annabel Greene’s. She’s a terrific character and I adored her self-awareness and empathized with her self-consciousness.

The story was not only inspirational but it also addressed a lot of issues like eating disorders, the not so fabulous life of being a model, high school bullying and most importantly family relationships. There were a lot of themes in this book but I give kudos to Dessen because it never felt stuffed and each was given equal attention in the story. Just Listen was told with the right amount of realism and pacing.

I feel like no amount of words can give enough justice to how powerful and inspiring the book Just Listen can be. I recommend it to anyone who wants to read a book that they can enjoy, with characters they can relate to and a story that can inspire and touch their hearts in a way they could never imagine.

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