Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Published: Viking 2006
Genre: YA Romance
Format: Hardback from the library
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.
Just Listen was a fun, light, quick read. As with all of Sarah Dessen’s books, she delivered with a cute romance and a few life lessons thrown in there. The main theme of this book was, of course, music. There are many different types of music strewn throughout this book, most of which is shown through radios and CDs. Ahhh…the days when CD players were used instead of iPhones! Also known as 2006…
The main character, Annabel, isn’t really particularly likable or even considerably warm. She is a bit hard to connect to, due from the uniqueness of her position. Annabel is a model whose world has just crashed after her best friend dumps her after she reportedly hooked up with her best friend’s boyfriend. After a summer filled with modeling, she returns to school. Where she meets Owen. Owen is a bit better in the character department. Both go through lots of character development throughout the book, but their romance was also a little bit lacking. I loved his sister and she was just so adorable throughout the entire book. The main part of this book, for me, was focused on Annabel’s family situation.
Annabel’s sister, Whitney, is recovering from an eating disorder after her retired modeling career and Kristen is trying to start her life again after she too drops out from modeling. Even Annabel herself no longer likes it. This was my favorite part of the book – the relationship between these sisters throughout their struggles. I loved Annabel and Whitney’s relationship and my favorite scene was the weekend they spent together while their parents were away for the weekend. It was so interesting to see as their relationship developed.
The book was well paced and the perfect length. The relationship between Annabel and Owen was a little bit lacking for me, but Annabel’s home relationship kept the book going. I really liked the way she developed her relationship with her friend Clarke and all her sisters, including the topics that were dealt with along the way such as eating disorders. There is also a little part of this book about rape, which felt a little strange to me since it occurred at the very end of the novel, so there wasn’t a lot of time to fully develop this plotline. Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book!