Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Rating: ★★★
 (4/5 Stars)
Paperback, 383 Pages
Published April 2006

First of all, you guys are probably wondering why the heck I'm so late to review Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, especially since it came out in 2006 and isn't really all that new and talked about in 2013 (but of course, Sarah Dessen is always talked about because her books are fabulous). But don't worry, I have an excuse: This book is on my school's summer reading list this year, so I jumped at the chance to reread it.

Yeah, I said reread. I normally hate rereading books, but Dessen is so good of a writer that I'll gladly reread Just Listen again and again and again and again, and I won't even get bored of it.

So here's a quick synopsis for you all:  

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.

This book was possibly even more amazing the second time around. The last time I read Just Listen was two or three years ago, so I didn't remember the plot that well (I know--since I'm a book nerd, I should be ashamed...but in my defense, I read a lot of books!). Therefore, it felt like I was reading the book again for the first time.

Let me just point out that Dessen is excellent at making her characters seem realistic. Most authors have trouble mastering the art of an everyday high school teen, especially since most of them aren't even in high school at the time that they're writing their story--but we'll make an exception for S.E. Hinton. Dessen somehow just does it. She creates the perfect characters that seem totally realistic (and more often than not, have interesting, uncommon names).

I loved the whole plot for this. On top of Annabel meeting Owen and struggling to become the person that he wants her to really be (instead of the famous model vision that her mom has for her), her sister Whitney is suffering from anorexia. Dessen deserves a round of applause for touching on such a sensitive topic and nailing it. She didn't go over the top. She made Whitney's recovery progress go by at the pace it should be going. I've read stories that have dealt with anorexia and have made the characters starved and sick one week, and then all of a sudden they snap out of it and make themselves eat again and get healthy.

No. That just doesn't happen.

Not at all.

Dessen made sure that Whitney was recovering, but she didn't just wake up one day and decide that all was right with the world and she was going to eat again. It was happening slowly, in steps, just like it really would.

As for Annabel's story--I love Owen's character. Even though he has a bad-boy rep, he's sweet and kind and caring and tells the truth and encourages Annabel to do the same. I can say that I wish I had a friend like Owen--he really helped Annabel discover who she was.

In the end, I loved the story. Like I said, I'll read it again (and again and again and again...)!

I'd love to stay, but I gotta run! Talk to you all soon!


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