Friday, July 29, 2011

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Annabel Greene is the girl who has everything. At least that’s who she plays in the commercial for Kopf’s Department Store: top student, popular cheerleader, dazzling prom queen surrounded by friends. In real life, though, Annabel is the girl who has nothing: no best friend since her friendship with mean-but-exciting Sophie has ended  with malicious rumors flying, no peace at home while her older sister’s eating disorder preoccupies the family, and no ability to tell anyone what’s on her mind.
And then she meets Owen Armstrong - intense, obsessed with music, and determined to always tell the truth, no matter what the consequences. Can a girl who hates confrontation find a way to connect with a guy who thrives on it? And can Annabel find the courage to tell what really happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends? 

At first glance this book is just another teen saga of the ins and outs of high school drama. However, as the story unfolds you soon begin to suspect that what Annabel is withholding from everyone around her is something entirely too life altering for anyone to have to deal with in high school let alone adulthood. With a perfect balance of a troubled home and a horrifying school life, Annabel represents a great number of teens who find it easier to withdraw and suffer silently rather than expose themselves and admit what they are dealing with.
Only a few pages into the book I found myself sympathizing with Annabel, cheering her on to find the courage to face the world she calls home. When Owen entered the scene, I instantly fell in love with him. I sat at the edge of my seat, wondering if their friendship would evolve into more. Would Owen influence Annabel to tell the truth and face confrontation? Would he find out what she went through and be there to support her or would he abandon her when she needs him most, as did everyone else she knew? Most importantly, would the world accept Annabel’s story as truth if she chooses to tell it?
I recommend this book for any girl from adolescence to adulthood. The only aspect of Sarah Dessen’s writing that I did not particularly care for, is when that moment you were waiting so anxiously for finally presented itself, she skipped to the next day and retold the events of the day before as a memory or an afterthought instead of allowing us to live it, in the moment, juicy detail after juicy detail. Other than that, this book was a keeper for me!