By Sierra, age 15, California
She is the girl who has it all - the great clothes, the perfect hair. She's a cheerleader with a gorgeous boyfriend. For Annabel Greene, life's a blast, or so you thought. From New York Times best-selling author Sarah Dessen comes another novel of extreme vulnerability. Just Listen is the story of a young woman trying to survive the teenage wasteland. After a party mishap Annabel Greene has been exiled from the popular table. Sarah Dessen scores again with another inspiring, yet awkward love story. Just Listen is a definite must read. Every word will leave you wanting more.
When Annabel's best friend Sophie moves to town, Annabel's life is forever changed. She is thrust into a world of popularity and recklessness, leaving everything she knew behind. After an attempted rape, Annabel's life falls apart. She finds herself alone and empty, spending too much time with her family and saying things she does not mean. Her life seems to blur, each day colliding elegantly with the next, until she meets Owen Armstrong.
Owen is a bizarre music mastermind with the size of Hulk Hogan and the gentleness of a spring breeze. He introduces Annabel to the idea of self-confidence and how easy it can be to achieve. As her life begins to take shape again Annabel finally realizes that there's more to herself than meets the eye.
Sarah Dessen's Just Listen creates a believable fairy tale out of an ordinary girl's not-so-ordinary life. Her writing comes to life on every page. Sarah Dessen's story walks you through the fear in someone's heart after she has been sexually harassed. Through Annabel's actions you will see how hard she tries to come clean about the harassment, but no matter how hard she tries, there remains the feeling of being judged for an uncontrollable situation. Through this constant battle between heart and mind, Annabel develops teen depression, a common disorder among young women these days. But in the end love conquers over evil. When Annabel realizes she is in control she builds an unbreakable love for herself and finally lets herself be loved.
Author Sarah Dessen
These are just some of the aspects that make this story irresistible. In a recent interview Dessen explained her goal for Just Listen with one sentence. "With Just Listen I wanted to explore the drive for perfection that's so typical in teenage girls today." I believe she has achieved just that, and this is what I truly love about this book. She explores the controversy of teenage girlhood and the actual simplicity in loving yourself. I give this story a rating of four out of five, and strongly recommend Just Listen as your next book of choice.
Rating: 4 stars (of a possible 5)