Tuesday, March 24, 2009

BOOK: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, 371 pages

dewey's books; young adult

1. Sarah Dessen, a very popular young adult writer, has written nine novels including Lock and Key and The Truth About Forever.

2. For a while, the novel was typical teenage angst - popular girl appears to have everything and then gets shunned by her so-called friends. Meets with a quirky, 'uncool' guy who she wouldn't' have associated with before.

3. Music plays a big role in the novel, with Owen into unusual music and he tried to expose Annabel to new bands. Owen had his own local radio program and was never without his iPod.

4. Just Listen has a very similar plot to Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, but they are somewhat tackled differently - one girl won't speak, and the other needs someone to listen. Same effect really and obviously a serious issue for teenage girls to deal with.

5. There is another plot with Annabel's sister who is struggling with an eating disorder. This is part of what makes Annabel go into herself - she doesn't want to bother her parents with any other issues.

6. I really liked Annabel and her sisters and it was the part that really got to me as I was finishing the book - read that to mean I was crying in bed as I finished the book. The three sisters were realistic and well written characters and were a central part of the book.

7. It was nice to see that the parents weren't portrayed as dolts, ignoring their kids. The sisters actually had a good relationship with the parents and they were real people with problems of their own. As a parent of almost teenagers, that becomes an important part of books I read now.

8. Most of Dessen's books are set in the same town in North Carolina so there is all kinds of overlapping landmarks and characters within her books. For example, Remy and Dexter from Truth Squad in This Lullaby, later appear as the band performing 'The Potato Opus' (written in This Lullaby) at Bendo in Just Listen. (taken from wikipedia) Maeve Binchy does that too in Dublin and it is a technique I really like.

9. When I read a young adult book full of 'issues', it reminds me that for most of the students I see every day, school and physics are really not the issues foremost on their minds.

10. I'd read another book by Dessen but I am beginning to feel that I've gone beyond some young adult books. I've learned that people aren't what they seem, that even 'perfect' people have problems, and it's not good to keep things bottled up inside. Yeah, I get it. But for teenagers, a well written book that deals with these topics is still a very good thing.


  1. I actually feel the opposite about YA...I wonder what that says about me :P Anyway, I plan to read this for the challenge too, and I'm really looking forward to it. I didn't know her books shared a setting and has reoccurring characters! That's so neat.

  2. nymeth - it's just been in the past few years I've noticed this. I think I've moved to an older demographic. The last half of the book really picked up though and I ended up really liking it. I'd like to read the other book that has the band in it from this book. I like reoccurring characters too. It's funny because I didn't see why that scene with those characters was so long, but if they've been in other books, that helps explain it.

  3. I'm a huge Dessen fan. I've read everything she's wrote and can't wait to get my hands on her new book. I'm 40 but I still love YA lit...I really enjoy turning to it when I feel like adult lit has burned me out!! Great review!!

  4. I've only read Dreamland, which I thought was quite good, and I'd like to read her upcoming book, Along for the Ride.

  5. I have a copy of The Truth About Forever waiting for me to get around to it. This does sound good and I really enjoyed Speak so I will look out for it. I do love my YA books still :)

  6. I loved your review of this book and will be adding it to my TBR list for sure. It was such a coherent review that got your thoughts and likes about the books across to the reader.

  7. yikes, obviously i have been out of the YA adult loop for a while! I've never heard of this book. I might pick it up now because of your review :-D thoughtful and interesting, raidergirl3.

  8. I'm not familiar with this author...although I do have Speak sitting right next to me begging to be read.

    Thanks for participating in the mini-challenge!

  9. Psst...you won the mini-challenge drawing for 13 Reasons Why.

    I still have to get it signed, but email your address...


  10. I really liked Just Listen, but having already been a fan of Speak, I found it hard to enjoy when I couldn't help thinking of the many plot similarities....it is a little eerie that one is called Speak, and the other Just Listen, and that for The Truth About Forever, Sarah Dessen's publisher was called "speak". However, I absolutely remain a Dessen fan, and I appreciate the unique points she raised, especially what you talked about with the relationship between the sisters, and the eating disorder.

    And with what you said about school being not exactly the primary issue we're dealing with...well, amen. Most teachers never notice what else could be going on....

    I loved your review, and will definitely be checking in again!


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