Monday, July 7, 2014

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Annabel Greene starts her junior year of high school as a social pariah. Her and her best friend Sophie had a major falling out over the summer and things have become even bleaker. The rumor mill is swirling with all kinds of accusations, and Sophie is only feeder to the fire. Annabel has no friends, unless you count Clarke Reynolds, who used to be her best friend until Sophie came along, but on the first day of school she makes it clear that she’s still angry about what happened all those years ago.

So Annabel is alone, unless you count sitting with the other social outcast Owen Armstrong for lunch…  Anyway, after an altercation with Sophie’s boyfriend Will Cash and then Sophie, Annabel has a ‘meltdown’ and Owen out of all people comes to her aid. From there a friendship begins that makes her into a different person – or at least the person she could be – and things are good for a while until another ex-friend of hers – Emily – begins to have rumors spread about her…

I think this Dessen book – so far – was the most intense one that I’ve read by her. The main character has so many issues not just with her personal life and what happened the summer before, but with her family too – her older sister Whitney’s eating disorder. The reveal of what happened to Annabel that summer kind of reminds me of Speak, since Annabel doesn’t tell right away and everyone just assumes that she hooked up with Will willingly. I also like – with all Dessen’s books really – the gradual ease into a male/female relationship. All her narrators don’t right away end up dating the guy they’ve been talking to, they form a friendship first which is just amazing. However, I do wish that Dessen would leave just one couple as friends and not something more and that the guy screwed up more, the last four books (Keeping the Moon, This Lullaby, The Truth About Forever and Just Listen) have all been the girl screwing up the relationship. Mix it up a little!

Final Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. I loved how strong Annabel’s character was, it couldn’t have been easy keeping all of that inside, and I loved how gradual her coping was. Owen was pretty badass too.

Bookshelf worthy? The old print, not the new one.

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