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Just Listen by Sarah Dessen: Book Review

Updated on December 23, 2010

Just Listen

Sarah Dessen writes great love stories. Just Listen is a perfect example of what Dessen does well; a predictable story of girl meets boy, girl falls for boy and girl spends the rest of the novel deciding if she should date said boy. Only Dessen usually adds in some disturbing family dynamics and maybe a bit of co-dependent behavior.

In Just Listen, the leading lady, Annabelle Greene has gone through quite a lot over the last few months, including being ostracized by her best friend, discovering that her older sister has a devastating eating disorder and befriending a mysterious boy from school, Owen. At the heart of her friendship with Owen is a shared interest in music. Owen hosts a weekly radio show that helps Annabelle learn to not only appreciate his eclectic taste in music, but also to find her own voice.

In this novel, Dessen tackles many issues that appeal to teenage girls: family drama, eating disorders, rocky friendships, presumed sexual assault, and, of course, a dark, hunky boy. Add to the mix that this novel (as do all of Dessen’s novels) has a satisfying, heartwarming ending and you have a winner.

Young adults who want a bit less fluff and a lot more substance will likely eschew Just Listen for something a bit darker like Wintergirls or Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. And it is a good bet that most young men won’t favor the overwhelmingly female voice.

But if you like the idea of sweet love story with a happy ending, Just Listen fits the bill perfectly.



Book Talk: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Nothing is going right for Annabelle Greene. Just last school year Annabelle was popular, pretty enough to be a model and had a perfect family. Things changed over the summer. Now, her friends hate her, her family is falling to pieces and her new best friend is the school’s biggest outcast. To top it all off, Annabelle is hiding a devastating secret and can’t seem to find the courage to speak up.

For someone who is used to everything being perfect, Annabelle is in serious trouble. The only thing bringing her happiness is her newest friend and his funky, if not a bit strange, taste in music. But, when she learns that he is headed to jail, it just about does her in.

Annabelle needs to find her voice and quickly if she is going to help her friend and help herself.

More Novels by Sarah Dessen


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    • Jenna Kunc profile image

      Jenna Kunc 

      6 years ago from Colorado

      I used to love Sarah Dessen. I'm pretty sure I read every single one of her books as a preteen.

      One interesting think I remember about the books was that every once in a while a character from one book would pop up in a different book. Kind of like an Easter egg.

    • Elise Scott profile image

      Elise Scott 

      6 years ago from Chicagp

      I love Sarah Dessen and this is definitely one of her best! The theme and plot in this novel were masterfully woven together. It's YA for teen girls at it's finest. Nice review! :)

    • MakeUpObession profile image


      7 years ago from Bowling Green, Kentucky

      I love most of Sarah Dessen's work. Just Listen happens to be one of my favorites. Some people weren't aware but the movie How To Deal with Mandy Moore was based on two of Dessen's books. Someone Like You and another one that I can't think of off the top of my head. Someone Like You is good but I liked the movie better. I'm sure it was distorted a bit to turn it into a movie but oh well.

    • Canscorpion profile image

      Nimra Aijaz 

      7 years ago from Steel Town

      Ahan...that explains quite a bit to me. :) I'm reading Just Listen these days and done with around some 20% of book. I wasn't quite aware of the plot and hence was not gripping the concept where the story is going. But it is quite interesting enough to keep me going on. Thanks for this review!

    • bye4June profile image


      7 years ago

      I just finished reading that book! It was great and I have actually found all of Sarah Dessen's books to be very enjoyable so far.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I love, love, love Sarah Dessen! Great review (:

    • KateMcGregor profile imageAUTHOR

      Katie Griffith 

      8 years ago from Cheyenne, Wyoming

      I love this one, but any of her books would make a good present.

    • KristenGrace profile image


      8 years ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Very nice review. This may be a present for someone I know!!


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