Reread: Just Listen

The first time I read “Just Listen”, was back in 2013, in kindle format. As an avid reader, I must confess that digital books are –while useful– just not the same. The feelings that paper transmits, turning page by page and being able to smell the newness or mustiness, it’s incomparable to anything else.

I read this book in three days, I would have finished it in less but I decided to spend my time doing other activities as well, given that it was Christmas. “Just Listen” is centered on Annabel Greene, a Lakeview model and high school junior who apparently has it all. Except that she doesn’t. Before the end of the previous school year, she fought with her best friend Sophie –the most popular girl at school– who thought Annabel had hooked up with her boyfriend, Will Cash. Annabel decides to isolate herself from any social interaction through out the summer, dreading the beginning of the new school year.

Alone and withholding so many secrets, she becomes friends with the school outcast, Owen Armstrong, best known for his aggressive tendencies, such as punching people in the face. She begins to learn things about him, like how music is his number one obsession, how he has attended Anger Management classes and has a twelve year old sister who loves fashion and looks up to none other than Annabel Greene. Owen is the complete opposite of Annabel –he never holds back and is always being plain honest. But this is almost impossible for her to achieve, or so she thinks until she realizes that the only way out is by confronting the truth.


Sarah Dessen is my favorite YA author because of the way she conveys delicate topics and makes the reader empathize so much with the protagonist. In this case, Annabel was a victim of sexual assault, and as most victims, she didn’t speak up right away. She was scared, angry and ashamed of what had happened to her. She thought that by keeping quiet, it would all go away. However, as time passed, it only got worse.

This novel addresses the importance of communicating effectively, of speaking up when you need to. That’s it’s okay to reach out for help and allow yourself to be vulnerable, that there will always be someone there to hold out a hand for you, even if it’s the person you least expected to do so.

Next year I plan on rereading “The Truth About Forever” and “Along for the Ride”. I’m also thinking about purchasing more Sarah Dessen novels that I haven’t read before, like “Saint Anything” and “Lock and Key”. But first, I have to finish the other stack of books waiting to be opened.

That would be all for now. Happy holidays!


Reread: Dreamland

La Luna Vita Blog Dreamland Sarah Dessen Book Review
It’s the second time I read this book. I remember the first time I read it I was 12 years old, just starting middle school. The cover caught my eye while roaming around the school library, of course it had a different cover back then. And yes, I tend to pick out books based on the cover.
For a long time, I considered Dreamland to be my favorite book. It was the first novel I read by Sarah Dessen. I soon started reading many others of the YA genre (by Dessen and other authors), but no other book could dethrone it’s number one spot. Back in 2009 I purchased it just to have a copy of my own, but I didn’t dare to read it. Weird, right? My “favorite” book from middle school, but I just couldn’t reread it. Well, let me tell you that copy rested in my bookshelf for many more years to come. Only recently, did I get the courage to read it again. And although I already knew how it all ends, it hit me hard. Once more.
For those of you who haven’t read it, the story is about sixteen year old Caitlin, who unexpectedly meets Rogerson Biscoe — a different and mysterious guy, nothing like her high school peers. Green eyes, olive skin and the wild hair. The central topic is abusive relationships — a topic that is still not discussed enough even today. He’s older, he smokes and sells pot, it was obvious he was trouble. But young and naive Caitlin didn’t see it coming, and when she realized in what situation she was in, she simply couldn’t get out.
La Luna Vita Blog Dreamland Sarah Dessen Book Review
It’s impossible not to love Rogerson at first. Of course if you’ve already read it, you’re just thinking he’s a total scumbag and part of you wants to warn Caitlin. But you certainly can’t because they’re just fictional characters. However, there are many girls who go through the same thing or worse. I recently saw 13 Reasons Why and I couldn’t help relating these two. Depression can have different manifestations. Even though Caitlin made certain choices but later receives help, other girls in her situation could have taken the same decision as Hannah (main character from 13 Reasons Why).
I’m actually a very emotional person and I usually do not vent about it, even less write about it publicly. But seeing 13 Reasons Why and rereading Dreamland, with a one week difference, was definitely not the best decision. It was a bit overwhelming. Aside from all the emotions, I did enjoy reading it again. And I can now openly state that Dreamland is no longer my favorite book, but it will always have a special place in my heart.

Review + 6 lessons from Sarah Dessen novels

Finally! I just finished reading “What Happened to Goodbye” by Sarah Dessen. In order not to spoil it I won’t get into much detail. Overall, I enjoyed the story. The main character is a girl named Mclean, she’s in her senior year. Over the last few years, since her parents divorced, she’s been moving a lot. That is because she went to live with her dad and he gets relocated frequently due to his job. In every city she would go to, she’d change her name and personality. But, this time in Lakeview, things are different. (If you’ve read Sarah’s novels, you know Lakeview is where all the drama happens). It wasn’t as romantic as some of her previous novels. Mclean does meet a guy named Dave. But she realizes many things about herself and life not only because of him, but also due to her new friends and the communication with her parents.

I have read a total of six novels by Sarah Dessen over the years. Dreamland, That Summer, The Truth About Forever, Just Listen, Along for the Ride, and lastly What Happened to Goodbye. Every book was different, but they did have some aspects in common. Here are 6 lessons her novels have taught me:

1. No one’s life is perfect: everyone has issues in their family and personal life, you’re not the only one.

2. Disappointment is part of the journey: perhaps even the people closest to you might end up hurting you, either intentionally or unintentionally.

3. Open yourself to others: there will always be people willing to help you, but in order to achieve this, you must be honest with your feelings and speak out.

4. Don’t judge others too quickly: every person you meet can teach you something, and sometimes the person you least expect will be the one supporting you.

5. Self-discovery does not happen overnight: it takes time to learn from experiences. As you get to know yourself better, certain things about you change, which is just part of the process.

6. Life goes on: In the end, you have to continue focusing on your next goal. Even if some things do go wrong, that doesn’t mean you should give up. Move on to the next chapter, there are better things ahead.

P.S. I know by far that she is not the best author, however, I always find the plot of her novels quite appealing. Now next on my list is “Girl on the Train” by Paula Hawkins.