"Last year, Annabel was "the girl who had everything" — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf ’s Department Store. This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
In this multi-layered, impossible-to-put-down book, Sarah Dessen tells the story of a year in the life of a family coming to terms with the imperfections beneath its perfect facade."
This is my second Sarah Dessen book and I won't do the whole summary thing for this one because the description above sums it up really nicely and there are no particular plot twists or anything.
I was really excited to read this one - there was just something about the story that seemed really appealing and even though I wasn't completely blown away in the end, I still really enjoyed reading this book!
My favourite thing about Just Listen was probably the writing itself. Ms Dessen just writes so beautifully and fittingly that you just can't stop reading, even when there's little going on, the writing just won't let you go out of its grip! I'm also very keen on her use of symbolism, which is everywhere really and sometimes it's perhaps a bit clicé, but overall I think her symbolism is quite beautiful.
I can't fault the author's characterization either! I found the characters in both of her books I've read really well developed. In this book, pretty much everyone was transformed in one way or another by the end and I like how this process is usually quite subtle and believable for everyone.
I didn't really have a favourite character in this novel, I quite liked everyone actually (except Sophie). The Greene family has a fair share of flaws and problems, but I still thought they were a lovely, warm family and far less dysfunctional than I would've expected. I liked how the parents were so caring and I enjoyed reading about the relationship between the three sisters - the final reading scene may have even provoked a smile and a tear from me, heh. All in all, this family was possibly one of my favourite fictional families ever.
I also enjoyed reading about the relationship between Annabel and Owen - I especially liked the whole "no lies" policy that Annabel adopted from Owen. Speaking of whom, even though Owen comes across as slightly irritating at times with all his music snobbery (pot kettle black - I was so there a few years ago), but I couldn't not like him. I admired his honesty and his passion for music and despite all his flaws, he just seemed like such a great guy. All in all, I though the relationship between Annabel and Owen was great and I really liked how it ended.
Even though there are plenty of lovely and happy scenes in this novel, it also tackles some more serious and dark issues, such as friendship betrayal, loss of innocence, family issues, growing up, abuse, anorexia, anger etc., but I thought they were dealt with well - all these subplots really worked within the story and weren't used just for sensationalism but actually thought out properly.
Overall, it's a great book and I can definitely see why Sarah Dessen is so popular - her books are simply wonderful and enjoyable; I'll definitely be reading more by her!
overall rating: 4/5
plot: 4/5 | writing: 5/5 | characters: 5/5 | cover: 3/5