Book 20: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Page Count: 371
Genre: Young Adult
Annabel Greene doesn’t like confrontations – not an easy thing to avoid when you’re the youngest of three sisters and best friends with one of the most popular – and outspoken – girls in school. When her friendship ends in a swirl of accusations and taunts, Annabel continues her trend of keeping her thoughts to herself, no matter how much it hurts to do so. But that changes when she befriends Owen, notorious around school for beating someone up in the parking lot. Around Owen, she becomes the sort of person she never thought she could be – the sort of person who tells the truth. But how long can she keep that up, and will she ever be able to admit why she and Sophie stopped being friends?
Had I not just finished reading Keeping the Moon, I might not have read this book, as the first two sentences on the back cover immediately put me off. Annabel’s a teen model who doesn’t have it all, despite how it looks. That’s not the sort of book I usually read, as I get tired of hearing about how the beautiful people’s lives aren’t perfect. That usually doesn’t interest me.
In this case, though, I’m very glad that I did. I felt a connection with Annabel that I wouldn’t have expected. I found I could relate to her in a lot of ways, even though I have never been friends with the popular crowd. I knew how she felt, though, and I could understand how she got to where she is now. I could understand why she left her best friend to hang out with the popular one, even though I knew it was the wrong choice. I could understand her fear of anger and confrontation.
The main part I didn’t like was how much of a music snob Owen was. I realize that music’s a big part of him and the novel, and that it wouldn’t have worked if he weren’t completely open and honest about his taste and what he thought about those who disagreed with him, but I couldn’t help but think back to one of my college roommates. She and I had been friends for a year before we were roommates, and we actually first bonded over a French band that we both liked, but she was a complete music snob who constantly made me feel bad about myself because I didn’t know all the bands she knew, and she was really judgmental of other people’s music. That’s what I was reminded of whenever Owen started talking about music.
Overall, a very good book. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who reads YA. I’m pretty sure I’m the last of the YA fans to get on board with Sarah Dessen, but I figured I’d still mention it in case there was anyone else who was late to the party.