76 of 82 people found the following review helpful
on April 7, 2006
How beautifully written this book is, I cannot even begin to explain, nor would I ever do it justice. It's hard to believe that Dessen's books keep getting better and better, because I always wonder how she's going to top the last one. Somehow, she always does, and in a way that leaves you desperate for more. I have never been one to re-read books, but I absolutely cannot lay this book to rest. I want to re-live the story, because I can't bear to let the characters go.
Annabel is facing the hardest school year of her life. She's dealing with a lot of family issues including her sister's severe battle with anorexia, and trying to tell her mother that she desperatly wants to quit modeling. Her ex-best friend Sophie no longer talks to her, because she thinks that Annabel slept with her boyfriend, but the truth is far deeper and the worst part is that nobody knows. Now that her friends have turned on her she has nobody until Owen Armstrong, the most unlikely person, befriends her and makes her see life in a new light.
Dessen did a beautiful job of portraying family relationships and how difficult it can be when you have to sacrifice for them. You feel so much a part of this book that it's as if you are sitting at the table with them arguing, crying, screaming, laughing, talking, or holding one another. The struggle with friendships is so real and honest that I'm sure every one of us can relate in some sense to the loss of a best friend, or a misunderstanding that never was resolved that Annabel deals with on a daily basis. The pain she has to endure while desperately hiding the truth from everyone else is incredible and you feel so deeply for her that it may bring you to tears or just want to reach into the book and give her a big hug.
Every young woman should read Dessen's books, but especially this one. It has so many lessons to offer girls on topics that are extremely important for them to be aware of. Everything from love and loss to anorexia and rape, this book has it all and it is so very beautifully done. I cannot express enough just how highly I reccomend this book to women of all ages, but especially to high school girls. Dessen is absolutely brilliant.
53 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on April 18, 2006
Sarah Dessen's latest novel focuses on Annabel, the youngest in her family and the sweet, nice one who avoids confrontation and, ever since becoming best friends with the popular-yet-caustic Sophie, avoids standing up for herself. Her family's attention is centred around her older sister Whitney and her eating disorder, and Annabel's white lies - telling her mom she's fine, not discussing the night when she and Sophie stopped being friends - keep things going smoothly. It's not until she meets Owen Armstrong, another 'outcast' at school who quotes Anger Management phrases at her, that she becomes aware of how often she lies, and more importantly, how often she simply fails to tell the truth. This is a story about a lot of things, from complex family relationships to the world of modeling to the importance of music, but mostly it's the story of one girl finding her voice, and letting people hear the sometimes painful but always true things that she needs to say.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2006
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Annabel Greene plays a girl who has everything in the commercial for Kopf's Department Store: she is the top student, popular cheerleader, dazzling prom queen surrounded by friends. In real life though, Annabel Greene is the total opposite. She has no best friend anymore because of Sophie, who ended up spreading rumors about Annabel after one little mistake that wasn't even Annabel's fault. Not only that, but Annabel has to deal with the awkward times at home with her sister's eating disorder, and Annabel not being comfortable about life and speaking her mind at all.
Then she meets a guy named Owen Armstrong, who isn't your usual Romeo, but Annabel learns something very valuable from him... truth. Owen Armstrong is a high schooler who is never parted with his ipod or CD player. Before Annabel was rejected by all of her friends, she had heard that Owen was a freak.Annabel had wondered what he was always listening to. When they become friends, he amazes her with his honesty and confidence. Soon, Annabel is telling Owen all of her feelings that she has wanted to get out for a long time, and they become close until she makes a big mistake-again.
I highly recommend this book for readers who like people like Meg Cabot and similar authors.Sarah Dessen has a way that keeps me interested in her story. If you have read certain books by Sarah Dessen too, you can recognise some of the characters in this story that is brought back from a different point of veiw which I thought was very cool.
I enjoyed reading this book because I was able to put myself into Annabel's shoes, and I wanted to just jump into the book and be her!
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2006
I started reading this book at work and couldnt put it down!
Annabel is facing every sixteen year olds worst nightmare, school with no friends. She enters the eleventh grade as a social outcast, forced to sit on the wall away from the rest of her schoolmates. Formerly popular Annabel Greene is shunned by her classmates for an unexplained reason (we find out later why). Not only is life tough at school but also at home. Through the help of Owen, Annabel is able to talk about what has happened and learn to speak honestly about her feelings.
This novel truly explains what it is like to be a sixteen-year-old girl. Every woman can relate to the main character, from conflicting emotions to unspeakable tragedy. This book is applicable to all young women whether they have experienced eating disorders, attempted rape or not. The reader becomes part of the family through the small details expressed by Dessen. This book should be read by women and girls everywhere, the author helps to show women that life moves on and that hope emerges even in the midst of adversity. Enjoy!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 24, 2006
The more that Sarah Dessen writes, the more her writing matures. Her books have become more polished and developed as time has passed. In this novel,the character Annabel is someone that is easy to relate to. Most people feel at some point that there is no categoery that they really fit into.
Music plays a huge role in this book and there is even a guest appearance from favorite characters from another Dessen book which caught me totally by surprise.
The one thing that dissapointed me a bit was that this book follows a pattern which was shown both in "the truth about forever" and "this lullaby". There is the boy who goes after the main character, they get together, they have a falling out and then the probelm gets resolved. Of course we all love a happy ending, who wants it to end in heartbreak? And every novel needs a conflict and climax but it is a little dissapointing that the novels have begun to follow the same pattern.
Furthermore, the probelm in the beginning of the book and the unresolved fallout with her friend Sophie was a bit obvious to me from the beginning, but that may be because I have read "Speak" a few too many times.
All in all, though, it was a great read. The characters were real, as well as the problems they faced. Whatever faults I found in it were pushed aside by the great writing of this book. Another romance and coming of age story that was hard to put down.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on April 15, 2006
Up until now, The Truth About Forever has always been my favorite Sarah Dessen book. Now that I've read JUST LISTEN, however, I think there's a tie! The characters of this latest release are so honestly real, their dialogue perfectly placed, that you can't help but be pulled into the life and times of Annabel Greene.
Of course everyone thinks that Annabel has the perfect life. She's a model who has been in television commercials, in print ads, and in fashion shows at the local mall. She's popular at school, even if it is mostly because she's best friends with Sophie, the high school girl who demands attention. Her father is an architect who designed their house of glass; her mother lives for Annabel's modeling; she has two older sisters, Kirsten and Whitney, who are both former models themselves.
Under all of that perfection, of course, lies the real Annabel. The one who suffered from something so horrible at the end of the last school year that she's lost not only her best friend, but her self-respect. Her family is so consumed with Whitney's eating disorder, with Kirsten's college life far away in New York, with keeping everything under control that Annabel doesn't tell them what's happened--the things that are still happening every day she goes to school just dreading the day. She doesn't want to add more problems to the mix; in fact, she lies by omission, simply avoiding the truth rather than shattering her family's illusions.
But then Annabel meets Owen Armstrong, a boy she once watched punch out another student, then calmly walk away. Owen keeps to himself, never seems to be without his iPod, and doesn't appear to need any friends. But after he reaches out a hand to her, literally, after she's sick outside of school one day, a budding relationship of friendship begins to build between the guy who never lies, no matter what--and the girl who lies to protect other's feelings, namely her own.
I loved JUST LISTEN. Owen is a character that will immediately grab your interest, especially with lines like "...for me, not saying how I feel when I feel it is a bad move. So I don't do it. Look at it this way: I might be saying you're fat, but at least I'm not punching you in the face." As for Annabel, the things she's holding inside are tearing her apart, and, in the end, it's the strength of her sisters that gets her to ask for help.
The characters of Kirsten and Whitney are complicated and complex, and I have to admit that there's a part near the end of the book in which the sisters come together that had me crying like a baby. As for Annabel, it's not all about telling the truth, but about listening, not just to others, but mostly to that voice inside of her:
"...this is what happens when you try to run from the past. It doesn't just catch up: it overtakes, blotting out the future, the landscape, the very sky, until there is no path left except that which leads through it, the only one that can ever get you home."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 30, 2006
Oh my gosh. I just got done reading this book, and it is AMAZING!!! I had to stay up till 1:00 in the morning reading it because I didn't want to put it down. It will make you think , or at least it did that to me. I'll give a brief summary, because I have nothing better to do:
17-year-old Annabel Greene seems to have the perfect life. Or does she? The youngest in her family, she struggles with her sister's eating disorder, while trying to keep from her parents that her best friend and her are no longer. And why? Over the summer, she was caught in a bedroom with Sophie (her ex-best friend)' s boyfriend, Will Cash. Without letting Annabel tell her side of the story (that she was raped), Sophie repeatedly calls her a slut, bitch, whore, and a whole long list of mean names. After a nasty fight with Sophie in front of the entire school, she then meets Owen Armstrong, the school's most notorious loner, and a huge music-lover. Over time, they become somewhat friends, bonding first over music(Owen's favorite subject), and finally over just plain fate. Now, another girl at Annabel's school is getting the same reputation she had, (the whole Will Cash thing)and Annabel freaks out. I'll leave the rest up to you, because I don't want to give away the ending.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on March 11, 2007
Annabel Greene is the girl who has everything. Annabel doesn't notice but that's who she plays in the commercial for Kopf's Department Store:top student, popular cheerleader, dazzling prom queen surrounded by friends. In her real life, Annabel is the girl who has nothing.She doesn't have a best friend anymore. Her friendship with mean Sophie ended with awful rumors flying. She has a bad life at home because her older sister has an eating dissorder. The whole family pays attention to her sister. Annabel can't tell anyone whats going on.
When Annabel meets Owen Armstrong everything changes. Owen is intense, obssesed with music, and wants to always tell the truth.
Annabel hates being on the spot.
Annabel resolves all of her problems. Her sister gets better. She is not friends with Sophie anymore. And she still dates Owen. Her family life improves. Annabel has had a challenging life.
I really liked the book but at some parts through out the story it was really slow. It started getting exciting in the middle of the book. I think the book could have been a lot shorter and more exciting but the story was a fun story to read.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 2007
Just Listen was an amazing book and on of my favorites. ( Only recommended for people 12 and up) The writer Sarah Dessen takes you on a wild ride into Annabel's life a normal teenager whose world gets turned upside down over the summer. When her sister starts an eating-disorder and Annabel has other things on her mind she turns to Owen Armstrong, a kid with a bad reputation. As Annabel gets to know him better she begins to see who he really is. He is a boy who always tells the truth and cannot lie no matter what. When Annabel is ready to speak the truth about what happened that summer, she turns to Owen and at the same time ends up finding out who she really is inside instead of who people want her to be. This book really relates to teenagers and how they feel when they come into a new school or do not have any friends. Just listen helps you realize what the world is about and how to overcome the bad things in it, by just speaking the truth and Just Listening to the people who do.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 6, 2006
This book was beautifully written, just as you have read in every other review here. The book was very good. It started out with almost a slow, apathetic tone, but this just ultimately adds to the power of the forth quarter of the book. This book is classic Sarah Dessen, save one area. There was a very depressing lack of chemistry between Annabelle and Owen. Both characters (Annabelle esp.) were very much like other characters from Sarah's books, but the didnt clique together with the perfect intensity as all the other characters always have. This review is coming out more negative than i intended it to because it still was a great book. Chameos by characters from the other novels including wes,macy,remy, dexter and the rest of truth squad were lots of fun