Friday, May 31, 2013

Book Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen (no spoilers)

Book: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication: April 6th, 2006
Source: Local Library
Rating: 5/5 stars
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.

My Thoughts:

I just finished Just Listen and it has quickly made it to being one of my favorite Sarah Dessen books. Just Listen wasn't what I expected and I really enjoyed that.

The main character of Just Listen is Anabel Greene. From the beginning Anabel is a mysterious character. She doesn't like confrontation which reminds me a lot of myself. Anabel feels alone after losing three friends Sophie, Emily, and Clarke. Although what they think of her is not true Anabel doesn't know how to talk to them. Although Anabel mentioned that there was incident at the end of the last school year it takes us as the reader to over half of the book to find out what really happened. This incident lead to Anabel losing all her friends. I liked this complexity of Anabel. We didn't really know why she was like she was. We didn't totally understand Anabel, but Sarah Dessen kept me reading to find out. In a lot of ways Anabel reminds me a lot of myself and I think that was why I connected so much to Just Listen. I have lost a lot of friends and there is a lot of times where I have felt alone because sometimes losing one friend means losing another because they are also friends with that friend you lost.

Every day at lunch Anabel would sit down six feet away from Owen Armstrong and for awhile they never talked. Owen was mysterious also in the fact that he was always listening to music. Owen stuck out to Anabel. Then the day came that Anabel talked to Owen and she learned quickly that Owen always speaks the truth. This changed Anabel because she started to look at her life and the lies she tells.

Owen also has a little sister named Mallory who is in middle school. She just loves Anabel because Anabel is a lakeview model. Mallory is obsessed with fashion. She was a really funny, cute, and sometimes annoying character.

The other part I really liked about Just Listen is the part about Anabel's sisters. Sometimes family is mentioned, but not focused on, but in Just Listen family was a key part of the novel. Anabel's sister Whitney, tall and beautiful has an eating disorder. Her healing is a big part of the novel. Although at first Whitney is quiet and withdrawn, we watch her grow as the novel progresses. Then there is Anabel's sister Kirsten who changes in many ways during the novel. Kirsten is the outgoing sister of the family not afraid to speak her mind.

Then there was Anabel's mom and dad who were a key part of the novel. Anabel spent a lot of time with her mom through modeling. Anabel's dad would always be up at night when Anabel came home and ask her to watch the history channel with him. Her parent's played a key role in this novel's ending.

I really enjoyed Just Listen's focus on music because even though the music was strange it lead Anabel to figuring out what she needed to do to move back the incident that wrecked her friendships. Anabel learned that sometimes she just needed to listen and that other people needed to be able to listen to here.

Another part that really drew me to Just Listen was the references to This Lullaby. The previous book I read by Sarah Dessen. I won't tell who all was in here, but it was really fun to find them for myself.

Just Listen was an amazing novel and I really enjoyed how complex of a story it was. Just Listen was an amazing book with such complex characters and characters that grew and changed throughout the story. This book wasn't all about relationships. It was about finding yourself and mending the bonds that have been broken. Anabel was an amazing character who discovered herself so much during this novel. Thanks to all the amazing people in her life Anabel was able to make a hard, but brave choice at the end of this novel. Although Anabel's life isn't perfect she was able to make the best of the situation. I think everybody can relate to some of the challenges Anabel faced. That is what makes Just Listen so relatable. Just Listen is a must read by Sarah Dessen.

Thanks for reading



  1. I've only read one Sarah Dessen novel and I don't even remember the name (shame on me) but I'm glad you liked this one! I think audiobooks make stories a lot more emotional. I guess I should read This Lullaby before this one, then? Great review!

    Alise @ Readers In Wonderland

    1. I love Sarah Dessen and have officially finished all her books except her new one. This Lullaby was great, but Just Listen has so much more character depth that I enjoyed. Yes you should read This Lullaby first.

  2. I didn't double check to see how you're doing with the Monthly Mix-up Mania challenge, I just wanted to let you know that I finally fixed the links! ~ Happy Reading, Gina

    (I own several Sarah Dessen books and haven't read any of them!)

    1. Thanks for telling me that. You should read Sarah Dessen.

  3. Hi Rachael,

    Just posted a review of this book on my blog if you'd like to read it. Really enjoyed hearing your opinion. Any other Sarah Dessens you would recommend? Thanks !

    1. Thanks for stopping by. I personally loved this novel.


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