Thank you to Penguin Random House and Viking Books for Young Readers for sending me a copy of Just Listen in exchange for an honest review.
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.
Every once in awhile a book catches me off guard. On the shelf it looks innocent enough, with that cutesy cover and happy-looking font. “Oh, this will be a fun, fast read between two heavier books.” As a Sarah Dessen newbie, I thought this was the role Just Listen would fill. Within a few pages I knew I was wrong.
Just Listen weighed on me immediately. I could tell right off the bat that this book would be very affecting. And it was.
Annabel was such a beautifully written main character. I loved reading about a girl who wasn't always strong, who didn't always do the right thing, but who gained those qualities throughout the story. As a teenager, I was an Annabel. I was quiet, I put what I thought others wanted from me first - even if it wasn't right for me. I think Annabel is a great character for teens to read about, because I think many will be able to relate to her and learn from her story in big ways.
The story of Just Listen is one that can be uncomfortable at times, but it should be. It tackles uncomfortable subjects and makes the reader face them head on. It's a book that says, “Yeah, these things SUCK. They really freaking suck. But sometimes life throws them at us, and here's one way to face them.”
I'm really glad this is one of the first Dessen books I read. It has me so ready to dig into her other books, and I can now see why so many readers adore her writing. I know I now do.