Dessen has hands down mastered the craft of contemporary romance. She knows exactly what to write and how to write it to tug at your heart strings. I have read many Dessen books, some I love and some I just like, but in every book she grasps the relationships of people to a tee. Whether it is a story about an abusive parent, abusive relationship, a neglectful parent, a first love, she manages to get it every time and Just Listen is just another shinning example of this. She took a simple story about a girl that is put into a bad position causing everyone to turn against her and crafted it into a book about a girl that finds out who she is and how strong she can be no matter what the circumstance is.
Just Listen is the story of Annabel, a high school senior that was at the pinnacle of social ladder. She had the popular friend, was invited to all the parties, was surrounded by people constantly. That is until something happens and Annabel is now lower then dirt. Finding herself without a friend in the world, bullied at school, a sick sister at home and a modeling career that she doesn’t want she shuts down and just goes about her day hoping to be invisible and get by. And then she meets Owen and everything changes. Slowly Annabel starts to realize that keeping quiet and telling people what they want to hear may not be the best way to live your life. Sometimes, even with the hard stuff it is important to say what you have to say and let people just listen.
Honestly I loved Annabel. She was this great well rounded character that was basically holding on by a string. Her whole life she had been the “perfect” daughter. Her oldest sister was the loud one, her middle sister the introvert that needed the most attention in the long run, and she was the one that just really needed to get by. But because of this Annabel somewhere along the way stopped telling people how she felt. Instead she kept everything to herself and never spoke up. She never spoke the truth about what really happened at that party. She never told her mom how she really felt about modeling gigs. She never truly was able to be who she was. Well that was until Owen, the class outcast, changed that for her.
Man did I LOVE Owen! He was just this amazing character that was brought into Annabel’s life right when she needed him most. The progression of their relationship was paced so perfectly and the way that he had her back and talked to her was swoonworthy. Annabel didn’t have many people on her side so Owen being there was all the more important. He taught her what it meant to have a voice of your own and how not speaking up did more damage then good sometimes. He was just perfection and I miss him terribly already.
Just Listen is a very very powerful book with great relationships and great story telling captured in its pages. It is definitely up there with my fave Dessen books. Like I said, Dessen is a master at her craft and she continues to show it with every book. A definite must read!