Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication Date: April 6, 2006
Genre: Young Adult
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Summary (from Barnes & Noble): When Annabel, the youngest of three beautiful sisters, has a bitter falling out with her best friend—the popular and exciting Sophie—she suddenly finds herself isolated and friendless. but then she meets owen—a loner, passionate about music and his weekly radio show, and always determined to tell the truth. And when they develop a friendship, Annabel is not only introduced to new music but is encouraged to listen to her own inner voice. with owen’s help, can Annabel find the courage to speak out about what exactly happened the night her friendship with Sophie came to a screeching halt?
Review (caution, spoilers ho!): I picked up the book from a used book store mostly because I’d been hearing about how amazing of a YA author Sarah Dessen was and how true to life her characters were. Well, after skipping over her books at both Borders sales and random jaunts through Barnes and Noble I decided it was finally time to see for myself if she lived up to the hype. Dessen definitely breathes live into the characters, teenagers and adults alike, causing the reader to become invested in both their well-being and their lives.
Annabel comes across the pages as a real teenage girl (side modeling career aside) and it’s easy to understand why she ignored things the way that she did. Most 16-year-old girls don’t have the maturity or wish to confront something as life changing and traumatic as she did, hell most grown women would have issues confronting it! Dessen does a wonderful job slowly developing the friendship and more that arises between Owen and Annabel, at no point does it feel forced on contrived.
One thing I felt Dessen did extremely well was in nailing the mean girl mentality with the character of Sophie, it’s not over the top or overdone it’s almost pitch perfect. Her ultimate fall from grace at the end of the novel felt realistic and occurred without any of the over the top dramatics that so often go with these occurrences in YA novels. You almost feel bad for her, but secretly you know that’s exactly what you wanted to happen.
I think this book was definitely worth the read and it made me curious to read other Sarah Dessen books. After all with summer around the corner I need to invest in some quality poolside reading material!