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Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Just Listen (2006)

by Sarah Dessen

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Showing 1-5 of 180 (next | show all)
Absolutely loved it. >>insert gushing here ( )
  iShanella | Dec 2, 2016 |
While the story of a family of models at first seems shallow and materialistic, characters develop and the novel becomes far more complicated and interesting than I would ever had guessed. Long, but worth the read.
  csoki637 | Nov 27, 2016 |
When events at a party at the beginning of the summer leave Annabel suddenly without her best friend, she dreads going back to school alone. She won't talk about what happened, and honestly has enough going on with her sister Whitney struggling with anorexia, and her mom still fragile after a bout with depression. Then she becomes friends with Owen, who's always listening to music and encourages Annabel to say what she really thinks.

Just Listen could so easily be an "issue" book with a point to be made, but while it touches on a lot, that never overwhelms the story of Annabel's growth, her acceptance of herself, and dealing with both interpersonal conflict and what happened at that party in May. I love Owen, the kid who had to go through anger management but resolves never to tell a lie. Annabel's family morphs and changes too, as she learns to see her sisters and parents in a new light and each of them grows over the course of the story. The dynamics among them rang true and were never heavy-handed. This was the first Sarah Dessen book I ever read and still among my favorites. ( )
  bell7 | Oct 31, 2016 |
I love everything about Just Listen — the story, the characters, the writing. I had so many flashbacks of my teenage years as I read this novel. I felt like I knew the characters, maybe from my childhood or at the very least, I felt like I could reach out and touch them. I lived with them — their day-to-day drama, their secrets, their frustrations.

At first you think Annabel has everything and then her world comes crashing down only to have everything circle back around making the story feel complete.

I could relate to Annabel, not regarding her modeling career, but her avoidant behavior, how she was intimated by her friend Sophie, and how she hoped her troubles would just dissolve away only to have them haunt her until she finally speaks up. I’m grateful that I didn’t have Annabel’s traumatic experience.

Whitney’s issues with food threw me back into my high school years when I barely ate. My issue never got as bad at hers, landing her in the hospital for months followed by outpatient therapy. I do remember feeling as broken as Whitney and food became one of our enemies, temporarily, but something that was always on our minds.

I wanted a friend like Annabel’s friend Owen, someone to pick me up during my darkest moments in my adolescence. He has his own radio show on Sunday mornings and he plays techno and new age type of songs. I love his views of commercial music and fashion. I’m not sure if this is Sarah Dessen’s views of music and fashion or just something fictitious she created for the novel. Owen expressed his opinions so directly and I couldn’t have said it better myself.

“Bitsy Bonds isn’t a singer, Mallory. She’s a product. She’s fake. She has no soul; she doesn’t stand for anything.”

“I mean, you just have to keep in mind that my listeners are going to be confused. They’re still tuning in, and they expect quality. If possible, enlightenment. Not commercial, mass-produced crap sung by a teenager completely controlled by corporate marketing.”

I love Owen for his brutal honesty. We can all name at least a dozen teenage singers who fit that description. I get so angry when I hear of another talentless teenage singer who is worth $100 million all because they fit a mold and people blindly support them without thinking. I just don’t find these singers entertaining. Anybody can sound good if you add a ton of reverb and compression to their vocals and then run it through ProTools.

Mallory is Owen’s little sister who idolizes fashion, fashion models, and the latest popular artists. By the way, her personality is hysterical. Owen is constantly voicing his opinion of Mallory’s taste in fashion and music.

“’Mallory,’ Owen said, ‘don’t be a label whore.’”

I went to school with so many label whores. You know the type. They’re in the shallow cliques who all think, act and dress alike in whatever the trend-of-the-week happens to be. If you’re not wearing a label, you’re a nobody, a loser. This scene with Owen and Mallory reminded me of a time when I sat in band class and the girl next to me criticized me for wearing generic labels while she wore her Alligator shirt and whatever those trendy shorts were at the time. I can picture them, but I’m drawing a blank on the name of them. Back then, I just played dumb and pretended that I just didn’t know where to buy those trendy clothes when in reality, my single-parent mother was dead-ass broke. It’s sort of funny how a harmless and entertaining novel like the one can bring back so many memories.

Annabel’s friend Sophie was intimidating and a bit scary, but I got the impression that Annabel wished she had those qualities. She wanted to stand up to Sophie, but found herself remaining silent and constantly following her lead until they had a falling out. Sarah Dessen describes Sophie’s social behavior very vividly:

Sophie’s particular brand of fearlessness was perfect for navigating the cliques and various dramatics of middle school and high school. The bossy girls and whispered comments that had always unnerved me didn’t bother her at all, and I found it was much easier to cross the various social barriers once she’d already busted through them for me.”

Owen taught Annabel how to speak up for herself. At first it was by expressing her opinion of Owen’s taste in music on his radio show. Their disagreements about music were often humorous. I laughed when Annabel gave her honest opinion of a “Baby Bejesuses song” that she described as a song that was all touch-tones. Owen tried to claim that the song meant “The Baby Bejesuses are innovators of the genre.” Annabel replied, “Then they should be able to put together a song using more than a phone keypad.” Annabel had to endure songs with yodeling, Gregorian chants and faucets dripping. No joke.

Owen also taught Annabel how to be direct with her opinions and not use placeholders like interesting or thing. He told her they were “something you use when you don’t want to say something else.” Actually, there were several characters other than Annabel that experienced internal growth. Both of her sisters, Whitney and Kirsten changed in meaningful ways. I feel like I’ve been schooled in so many ways by Owen, Annabel, Whitney, and even Sophie, but they each had something different to teach.

Just Listen left me wanting more of the story and more of Sarah Dessen’s novels. She’s definitely an author I’ll be coming back to in the near future.
( )
  JennysBookBag.com | Sep 28, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 180 (next | show all)
"Dessen weaves a sometimes funny, mostly emotional, and very satisfying story."
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The best way out is always through. - Robert Frost
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I taped the commercial back in April, before anything had happened, and promptly forgot about it.
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Book description
Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has 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.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0142410977, Paperback)

When Annabel, the youngest of three beautiful sisters, has a bitter falling out with her best friend—the popular and exciting Sophie—she suddenly finds herself isolated and friendless. but then she meets Owen—a loner, passionate about music and his weekly radio show, and always determined to tell the truth. And when they develop a friendship, Annabel is not only introduced to new music but is encouraged to listen to her own inner voice. with owen’s help, can Annabel find the courage to speak out about what exactly happened the night her friendship with Sophie came to a screeching halt?

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:07:58 -0400)

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Isolated from friends who believe the worst because she has not been truthful with them, sixteen-year-old Annabel finds an ally in classmate Owen, whose honesty and passion for music help her to face and share what really happened at the end-of-the-year party that changed her life.… (more)

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