#62- Just Listen
I usually really like Sarah Dessen books, in fact that is by far the lowest I have rated any of her's in this project. I found the entire thing to be really cliche.
Just Listen is about a 16 year old girl named Annabel, she is the youngest of three sisters and growing up they have always all differed in everything except for modeling, which their mother got them into when they were young. Annabel being the youngest and sweetest, Whitney being the middle child and seeing the world with a tinge of bitterness, and Kirsten, the oldest, always viewing life with rose colored glasses and a sunny disposition. Guided from their supportive parents they have always been supported in whatever ways they needed.
Annabel is going into her sophomore year of high school at the beginning of the book, having just gone through a rather dramatic fight with her best friend at the start of summer and not having talked to her since. On the first day of school Sophie, her ex-best friend, makes a point to look her in the face, call her a whore, and continue on with her day. Annabel is shocked and outcasted. During lunch she sits on the wall by herself and doesn't have much hope about making any kind of friends that year. Each day, as lunch rolls around she sits on the wall, with no one around except for a boy named Owen. They always keep their distance until one day when he starts a conversation and gives her a ride home from school. Intrigued by his mysterious personality and interesting taste in music, Annabel and Owen start a therapeutic friendship which helps her overcome struggles throughout the year.
Other than the parts just summarized above, the book touches on Annabel's middle sister's eating disorder, her oldest sisters college adventures, and the real reason why Sophie won't talk to her anymore. Ruining a bit of the surprise of this, which isn't exactly a surprise because the minute that I heard that she was outcast for something that happened at an end of summer party I immediately thought of the book speak and wow wouldnt you know it, Annabel was sexually harassed by Sophie's boyfriend. Now while I am by no means trying to down play how serious rape and sexual assault is, I found it incredibly cliche that she wrote another one of those books about losing friends and having a rough year because a drunk boy was a disgusting pig at an end of year party. I thought she stole the concept from Speak (I did check, she wrote this 10 years after Speak was published) and I didn't think the book was better by any means.
I love Sarah Dessen and this book doesn't change that, I like that she references characters from previous novels in her book (for example Remy and Dexter from This Lullaby was mentioned in this book, Dexter's band played at a club that Annabel goes to with Owen) and like how easy her style is to read, I finished this book in two nights just casually reading. I won't judge her future books from this and will continue to enjoy her as an author, I just don't think this was one of her best.
I actually loved this quote in high school and used it on many different facebook posts and even a speech one time for a youth group I was a part of;
“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you'd better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you'll never understand what it's saying.”