Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
I’m Annabel. I’m the girl who has it all. Model looks, intelligence, a great social life. I’m one of the lucky ones. Aren’t I? My ‘best friend’ Sophie is spreading rumours about me. My family is slowly falling apart. It’s turning into a long, lonely summer, full of secrets and silence. But I’ve met this guy who won’t let me hide away. He’s one of those intense types, obsessed with music and totally unafraid of confrontation. He’s determined to make me listen. Will I ever find the courage to tell him what really happened the night Sophie and I stopped being friends? This is a captivating, emotionally turbulent, unputdownable teenage fiction – the natural step up for older Cathy Cassidy fans.
Just before the summer break something terrible happened to Annabel, leaving her lonely, isolated and misjudged. When she returns to school she finds herself alone and with her ‘best-friend’ calling her names whenever they meet. Lunches are spent alone until she meets Owen. He is not who she expected him to be, and through music and anger-management Annabel faces what happened, what she had done and the prospect of always telling the truth.
I loved this book. I read it in less than a day. I couldn’t put it down. This is the first Sarah Dessen novel I have read but I can see myself reading many more of her books. This is great young adult fiction. Dessen writes a gripping novel. It felt real and I was sucked into the story.
The novel covers many issues: the need to be popular, rape and eating disorders, as well as anger-management and being honest even when it is difficult. This was a complex book but it was not a hard read. I think Dessen deals with all this issues really well and I liked how everything panned out. I guess it was predictable but that did not spoil the read at all.
I really liked Annabel. I loved watching her change; realising that once she had been mean to others, or watched as Sophie was cruel and did nothing about it to the girl she became: confident and happy. I really felt like I was experiencing her journey as well. I loved her sister’s too. They both faced major challenges but Dessen wrote them so well that I was supporting them and really enjoyed reading about them. I felt empathy, pain and joy reading this. There were times when I could have cried and times when I sat chuckling to myself.
Owen is the hero of the story and such a likeable guy. He is a guy with anger issues but I love how Dessen wrote about them, including how he was getting sorted. She was honest with him and he did slip up, but that made it all the more readable. I think all the characters were believable and enjoyed following them through this story.
This is definitely a must read for everyone – both teenagers and adults. I was hooked from the beginning. One of the best books I have read this year.