Author: Sarah Dessen
Publication Date: February 28, 2008
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.
Nobody knows. Anabelle Greene never told what happened that night. She never talks about it...ever. She doesn't talk about wanting to quit modeling either, or her sister's eating disorder. Everyone thinks she's perfect. And everyone thinks she hooked up with Will, Sophie's boyfriend. After a summer of loneliness and depression, she faces hell; otherwise known high school. Rumors flare and whispers float around. She has this to deal with along with her already-crumbling family. Everything changes when she meets Owen, an honest to goodness bad boy obsessed with 'music enlightenment'. As they become friends, Anabelle starts telling the truth, and standing up for herself. Will she ever have the courage to once again tell the truth? And will she be brave enough to finally open her heart?
Just Listen is a waterfall of cascading emotions; never receding. Dessen brings out a lot of poignant feelings throughout the book. Anabelle is a mature protagonist that has to deal with a lot of things she sometimes isn't ready for yet. The reality that Dessen creates, is real and definitely not sugar-coated. You're able to see what really happens and how a teenager like Anabelle reacts and deals with everything. Owen is one of those brooding guys in a novel. He's a distinct and realistic character that doesn't care what others think. Little by little you get to know him and put everything together to create a strong and individual characterization of Owen. He is definitely one of my favorite so-called bad boys!
The glass house is an aspect of the book that is particularly significant. It's mentioned a few times and really seeps into the reader's head. One of my favorite quotes from the book is "Pretending everything was just fine, and from the outside, I was sure it at least looked that way...what we appeared to be-the five of us, a happy family, sharing a meal in our glass house--to anyone in a car passing on the road outside, looking in." The glass house is a sort of façade or pretense here. The book itself is also multi-layered, with lots of subtle, underlying messages. A+ =)
The Bottom Line: Just Listen is mostly family-related with a little sprinkle of sweet, meaningful romance. It's a book that a lot of people will be able to relate to, and learn from. It's an emotional, touching, and beautiful read that you will want to read (or hear) over and over again...just like your favorite song. So just read. Just Listen.
My reaction/enjoyment: 10/10
Total Score: 99/100 (A+)