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!