Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

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Genre: Young-Adult, contemporary
Pages: 371
Series: None
Release Date: April 6, 2006

5 Stars

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Don’t you hate it when, after reading a book, you take some time to let it settle in your mind and postpone writing the review. And the next thing you know, it’s been a week and the review still hasn’t been written and now you have to think hard to remember half the shit you wanted to write in it? Because I really fucking do. And I do it all the time. Like now.

So, bear with me here. This might be good, or it might be a complete mess.

This novel is the story of a girl named Annabel, whose life has undergone a bad transformation. Her mean-but-exciting best friend, Sophie, dropped her, things at home are no good ever since her older sister became anorexic, and she just doesn’t know what to do or how long she can hold on to things.

The she meets Owen, who seems like a breath of fresh air after all the lying and hiding, and “being nice”. Some might call Owen rude, but the truth is, he’s honest. Always. And maybe he’ll be able to help Annabel deal with her problems, and with what really happened between her and Sophie because, on her own, she might never do anything.

And that’s not to say that Annabel is weak. She kind of is, but also isn’t. She’s not easily hurt, or breakable; she just doesn’t like confrontation. She can’t stand anger, or people being upset because of her. So she pretends that her problems don’t exist and never says anything to anyone, hoping it will all get better on its own. Because that always happens, right? All bad things are going to vanish into pixie dust.

It’s a naive hope and Annabel is a naive girl. But her problem with confrontation is very serious, as we slowly see. She’s terrified and lets that fear control her to the point of it being unhealthy. And her journey to growing up and learning to face her demons was beautiful to read.

She had help from Owen, of course, who I love. Owen is exactly the kind of characters that I like since I hate liars and he’s taken an oath of honestly. He’s also funny, a bit strange and just a really good guy. He and Annabel complement each other very well. He makes her more brave and she calls him out when he’s judge-y or a music snob. I love their interactions and the fact that things started off with them becoming friends. There was no instant attraction or “he was the most handsome guy I’d ever seen” (that shit is getting old) and the relationship moved at a very natural pace.

Overall, this was a very well written book with many compelling characters, all of whom we were acquainted with early on. It wasn’t just about Annabel and Owen. It was also about her mom, her sisters, her friends. All of it beautifully told.

A hell of an introduction to Sarah Dessen, for me. And I highly recommend this book and I’m eager to read more by the author.

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