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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication Date: February 28, 2008
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To find the truth, you've got to be willing to hear it.

When she's modeling, Annabel is the picture of perfection.

But her real life is far from perfect.

Fortunately, she's got Owen. He's intense, music-obsessed, and dedicated to always telling the truth.

And most of all, he's determined to make Annabel happy...
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"But being nice wasn't as easy as it seemed, especially when the rest of the world could be so mean."

I LOVED THIS BOOK. Just, wow. Powerful, touching, down right emotional. There are two elements that I absolutely love in any book: an emphasis on family and character development. This book had those in spades. The story was beautifully written and, in my opinion, the flow was spot on.

The title, Just Listen, fits this story to a tee and is told in the pov of Annabel Greene, the youngest of three sisters. She lives in a modern styled home known as The Glass House, exposing them to their neighbors and passersby. From the outside, the Greene family seems perfect. Annabel was known for being in TV commercials and was dubbed as the girl who had it all. That was far from the truth. Her friendship with her best friends, Clarke and Sophie, had ended badly which left her isolated. Her sisters had moved out together and didn't call home much which left Annabel alone. She didn't have anyone to confide in so she bottled up her thoughts. When she was with her family, it was apparent how her parents would shield her from family problems and push her opinions aside because of her age. All Annabel ever did was do what she was told and listen.

I liked Annabel. I liked her loyalty to her family. I understood her decisions. She was being bullied at school but she didn't want to burden her family by telling them so. She wanted to stop modeling but she didn't want to hurt her mother's feelings. She was hiding a secret from everyone because she was scared. Just Listen was realistic. One of my favorite aspects of this book was the relationship between Kirsten and Whitney, Annabel's sisters. They had a fall-out ever since Whitney was forced to move back home. They hardly spoke to one another. Their character growth as individuals was poignant and I cried my eyes out when they made up. Not one to inject herself into situations, Annabel quietly observed her sisters from the side. The narrative was so descriptive and thought provoking, throughout the entire book really, and it made my heart ache (in a good way).

"Music is the great uniter. An incredible force.
Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common."

Annabel's growth wasn't as awe-inspiring as her sisters but I still really enjoyed seeing her come out of her shell after meeting Owen. He was the broody, lonely guy at school who was always listening to music. Their friendship developed slowly but sweetly. Owen had a rule to always be honest and Annabel couldn't even fathom being so. His obsession with music was endearing. I loved that he tried to get her to be more open-minded about the different genres of music. I LOVED HIM. He was such a warmhearted guy and an incredibly wonderful brother. His interactions with his younger sister, Mallory, had me smiling wide. I loved that Annabel could be the "older sister" when it came to Mallory and you can see another side to her that's doesn't come out in her own home. The secondary characters made this book just as much as the main characters. And it's those kinds of stories that I find more believable and sucks you right in.

I gave Just Listen 5 stars for the story. It's very much a story of family and self-discovery in my opinion. The romance was subtle and sweet. I loved that it highlighted the importance of trust and communication, that you shouldn't be so quick to judge someone based on their appearance or demeanor. I highly recommend this book to all YA contemporary lovers. It was my first Sarah Dessen book and I must say, she hit this one out of the park. I cannot wait to read more of her work!

"Don't think or judge. Just listen."
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Owen's best friend. Rolly was great comic relief and adorable.
I loved that you got to see his own romance bloom, I was cheering for him the entire time.


  1. OMG OMG YAYYY<33 *Fangirls* This has been one of my all time favorite novels since high school, it's one of those novels that have stayed me with for years. I cannot wait for her new book soon Saint Anything, it sounds a bit different from her usual reads though. Fantastic review though. Love the last quote!
    Benish | Feminist Reflections

    1. *Joins in on your fangirling* Thanks, Benish! Oh yeahh, I heard she had a new book releasing soon. I hope you enjoy it! My next Sarah Dessen book will probably be The Truth About Forever since it seems everyone loved that one :)

    2. That one is my second favorite xD Her earlier books were a lot better than her newer ones. What Happened to Goodbye is cute as well.

    3. I'll add that one to my tbr :D

  2. I finally bit the bullet and read my first Sarah Dessen read a few years ago but sadly, it was not for me. I don't know if i'll ever try another book by Sarah Dessen but I am so happy you liked this one ad really connected with it! Makes me feel better! Brilliant review Jae <3

    1. I'm bummed that you didn't enjoy your first Sarah Dessen book Lil! I know what you mean. If I didn't enjoy the first book of an author I just move on really. There are just so many books out there to try!!