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Just Listen
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on 27 February 2014
All my daughters friends were reading this book and my daughter also wanted it, she hasn't put it down yet so, on behalf of her 100% recommended.
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on 26 August 2014
Amazingly written by a talented author. Took this book on holiday and couldn't put it down the whole week. Would recommend to any young book lover.
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on 20 February 2013
I like this book a lot. Serious yet light at the same time. A mist read for any Sarah Dessen fan!
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on 23 April 2006
As with all of Sarah Dessen's previous novels, I was expecting something fantastic when I received 'Just Listen'. And I was certainly not disappointed.

'Just Listen' tells the story of Annabel who has returned to school, after a miserable summer, to find herself friendless. With turbulant family issues haunting her at home and the pressure of her modelling career weighing heavy upon her shoulders, Annabel somehow finds herself befriended by music obsessed Owen Armstrong, a most unlikely ally.

The initial theme is similar to that in Laurie Halse Anderson's 'Speak', but Dessen's story blossoms throughout into something much more profound and deals with some powerful issues such as self image and a fear of speaking out.

Dessen offers up another masterpiece packed with crackling dialogue and a cast of delightfully quirky and unbelievably realistic characters. Unmissable.
8 people found this helpful
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on 29 May 2015
Book was exactly as described.
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on 1 December 2015
Just Listen is enjoyable, a fairly light read given its underlying subject matter. The main character is Annabel, the youngest sister of three girls who are all encouraged by their mother to model. Annabel’s best friend Sophie is popular, and being around her seems to have elevated Annabel’s status, but Annabel feels uncomfortable around Will, Sophie’s boyfriend. In time we learn why this is. Just Listen roused my emotions but in my opinion it could have been a more thought provoking read if it explored the personal emotions, and trauma of Annabel being attacked, and her immediate response to that more realistically but instead Annabel chose to remain silent and I found this quite frustrating. Okay, the reader is meant to take from this that she couldn’t bear to tell anyone and I understand that but nevertheless it just seemed a little unrealistic given the circumstances. There are a wide variety of themes that are explored in this novel: anorexia, sibling relationships, families, secrets, boy/girl relationships, sexual assault, and friendship difficulties. The writing is marked by a fair amount of telling which at times slows down and overburdens the narrative.

Overall, I would rate this 4 stars, due to the points mentioned below:

Just Listen’s strengths lie in its:

Portrayal of family life, particularly sibling relationships, the dynamics of the three sisters is where the real emotion of the novel lies. I found myself really moved by certain chapters in the book which explored the relationships between the sisters.

Owen’s character is another high point of the novel he really brought the story to life for me, in fact I would say that he is perhaps a more engaging character than Annabel. Annabel by the very act of withholding her emotions, comes across as quite frustrating. I felt great sympathy when I discovered what had happened to her but I desperately wanted her to confide in Owen but instead, to begin with, she ran away. I do get why she did this but nevertheless I wanted her to do the right thing and tell him and stand up so that other girls wouldn’t go through the same thing.

I liked how Sarah Dessen explored this very human tendency to judge people by their looks, and by other peoples’ reactions to them, rather than looking deeper and discovering for ourselves that everyone can be different and more complex than we expect. Owen, is a perfect example, he sits apart from everyone, is immersed in his music, needs anger management to handle his emotions, but there is so much more to him than those simple facts alone. Even family members can have an unexpected side to them, a case in point is Annabel’s mother, who turns out to be tougher than we might imagine.

The multitude of secrets and hurts that lay buried waiting to be discovered, are fascinating, particularly set amongst the pressures to be the perfect skinny, flawless beauty in the much desired world of modelling.

Music really felt like a character in this novel, and played a pivotal point in the storyline which was such a nice unexpected touch.

This is the first Sarah Dessen novel that I have read, on the whole I enjoyed Just Listen, especially the detail regarding the sibling relationships in the latter part of the novel.

I’d recommend Just Listen to readers of YA, Contemporary, Romance, Chick lit.

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on 19 March 2015
I found more than I expected when I read this book – the pretty and youthful cover was deceiving, and beneath it lurked a rather deep and emotive plot. Annabel Greene at first glance appears to have it all; model beauty, vast popularity and an outwardly thriving family. But these elements only conceal a darker past, not only for Annabel but for her seemingly perfect family as well. The depiction of Annabel’s battle in keeping others happy and stifling her own memories and emotions is genuinely moving, as is the steady plot progression which begins to crumble the already fragile facade of her life.

Enter Owen; the polar opposite of Annabel but with issues of his own. All we can do is watch helplessly as their natures clash, and the tale of what really happened to Annabel is unveiled. Dessen strikes just the right balance of tragedy and teen light heartedness to create this beautifully written book. She deals with heavy issues such as anorexia and sexual abuse with agonizing clarity, but never so much as to make a reader uncomfortable.

I enjoyed this read, and certain elements of it have stuck with me, the author has certainly hit the mark in leaving a resounding note and giving me a lot to ponder. The portrayal of what lies beneath a seemingly perfect family is symbolised by the glass house that Annabel’s family live in, which shows the world only part of the story. Annabel lets us into her life, slowly but surely, and we see the ugly truth behind the disguise. There is a love story, no doubt, but it takes a backseat to more prominent themes dealt with throughout; honesty, courage and the true value of family.
Overall, I definitely think this is worth a read – but be prepared for a little soul searching along the way.
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on 13 April 2012
I took this out of the library a while ago after reading 'The Truth About Forever' and loving it. I had other books to read first so I put it in my pile and forgot about it. I finished a book last night and was looking for something quick and quite light so I picked this up. I ended up staying up until 1.30 in the morning reading this and got about 320 pages through it. I had to finish the last little bit this morning when I got up, but it was so good I didn't want to put it down.
This book wasn't quite as 'light' as I thought it would be and I am talking story content here not page numbers. It deals with a lot of issues from anorexia, bullying, rape and anger management. But whereas some books can overdo the issues so it feels like you are getting a lesson and a lecture, this book has the perfect balance and it never felt like too much.
Annabel used to have it all, but now she doesn't recognize herself, everything seems to have fallen apart in the last year, she is trying to ignore everything and carry on in a sort of blur, then she meets Owen and he teaches her that although she may not talk, she needs to listen, listen to her heart and her mind and her feelings and know that other people are there to listen to her too.
I actually liked Annabel as a character, when I found out she was a high-school model I immediately had this image in my head of a girl like the 'Plastics' in 'Mean Girls', but she is not like that at all, she is down to earth and just very unhappy, putting a brave face on for everyone and I could feel myself empathizing with her. At points I was almost screaming at her to just come out and say something, but I know how hard it is to tell people how you are feeling and I could understand why she didn't. Of course I've never had experiences like she has, thank God, but I could relate to her feeling of loneliness and of being lost.
Owen is probably my favourite character here - known round school for his large build and fiery temper, everyone is intimidated by him, but he's also a bit of a loner - locked in a world of his headphones and music, it just shows you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover as he is actually really sweet, yeah he has some anger issues but it's always for the best intention.
The pair worked really well together in the story and although I had a vague idea where the story was heading I still enjoyed getting there and there were some surprises on the way.
The story moved very fluidly and was a mixture of exciting, funny, heartfelt and emotional. This book focuses a lot on the things we don't see or hear, and made me think that maybe, sometimes we should look closer and take a bit of time to listen to someone else.
Overall I loved this book and I can see why Sarah Dessen is so popular, I have already requested her next book 'Lock & Key', I know all of her novels are stand-alone, but I've decided I want to read them in the order they were written.
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on 7 March 2010
Annabell is a 16 year old girl.She is in the modelling business from a very young age,as are her two sisters.She is the youngest in a family that seems to have it all.But a closer look will make you understand that something like that is far from true.The middle sister suffers from an eating disorder and the older sister lives in New York, where she quits modeling,much to her mother's disappointment, and decides to continue her studies instead.Their mother is described as someone who seems to continuously hold on by a thread,since she still can't cope with her mother's death.Their father reminds me so much of my own, not participating but always caring and protective of his family in any way possible.And he loves history!

After her best friend's boyfriend molested Annabell, everything changed in her life.And then Owen came along.Owen is a 16 year old boy,socially challenged,who has recently been in an institution where he had anger management lessons.He escapes from reality through the blasting music coming out of the headphones he constantly has in his ears. Annabell is fascinated by him,as he sees in him the person she could trust and open up to.Share all these feelings and emotions that were nestled inside of her, knowing that what she would get from Owen is not only disarming honesty, but also solace and pure love.

An amazing read for all ages!
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on 21 August 2013
I liked that the author told stories of their past and woven it into the present story- it was done the best in this story. Again skipping in the present were annoying.

Annabelle and Owen were just beautiful together. I was so rooting for them and despite them only knowing each other in a short while their feelings for each other felt very real.
I loved how Owen always told the truth and put with Annabelle who was lying the most she ever had done was an interesting concept.
I loved their discussions and banter over the music they liked which were very different tastes.
Annabelle's family were interesting and I would have loved to know more about Owen- I just don't think he's story was told much.

Overall a sweet romance and interesting characters, a good read (especially if you love music)
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