Review: Just Listen

just listenJust Listen
by Sarah Dessen
Published by: Penguin Group Inc.
Form: Purchased Paperback
Big Themes: Family, Identity, Friendship, Falling in Love, Sexual Abuse, Eating Disorders, Modeling, Music

Annabel is the youngest of three sisters.  All were models.  All are different.  Something happened to Annabel at the end of the school year, and when she returns to school in the fall, everything has changed.  Annabel has to figure out who she is and what she wants out of life.

What I Loved:

Family: Sarah Dessen does families well.  The characterization and family dynamics seem to often be one of the central plots her books.  I liked the sisters a lot in this book, and I enjoyed how each of them had a hobby they were passionate about.  I love when characters have cool hobbies in books–bonus points!

Quirky Love Interest: Owen is passionate about music and it was captured in every aspect of his character.  He really came to life on the page.  Musical guys aren’t really my thing, but if you like musical leading men–this is your book.


Heavy Flashback in Exposition: Ergh. Sarah Dessen, this is another trademark of your books it seems.  The beginning is heavy with flashbacks and delays getting to the real story.  While it does provide character insight, I prefer my books to be faster-paced and flashbacks inevitably bog the story down.

The Secret Game: Ergh. This is a major pet peeve of mine.  I can’t stand when the main character clearly knows something or went through something, but we as the reader aren’t being informed of what it was.  It feels like a manipulative game by the author because I should know everything the character knows if they are the one telling the story.  It’s one thing if it’s just not information that comes up organically in the story.  But I feel cheated when the character is walking around thinking about this obscure ‘bad thing’ but the character isn’t revealing what the ‘bad thing’ was.  This is a trick to me.  Because if I was in that characters head, then I’d know what the bad thing was.  Don’t hold it back just to string us along.

Three and a half stars.  I bought this book for a trip to the beach, wanting a light romantic read.  But the subject matter was a lot heavier than I probably want in a light read.  I generally don’t want to read many problem novels, and with both eating disorders and sexual abuse, this was not exactly what I was looking for.  However, there is great characterization, great family, and a sweet love interest.  Worth reading.

One comment on “Review: Just Listen

  1. lab1990 says:

    I haven’t read anything by Sarah Dessen, though I am curious to try something. Sorry this wasn’t the best fit for you, but it seems like it has some nice points too! I don’t mind issue books (I actually really like them!!) but when everything is a secret, those can be a bit tedious.


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