Just Listen

Just Listen - Sarah Dessen Really liked this book (actual rating would be 4.5 stars). The protagonist, Annabel, has a fantastically real voice. Her reaction to a horrible incident that happened to her is frustrating (as in, just tell someone already!) yet completely understandable. When Annabel was younger, her mother fell into an episode of severe depression and I can understand why Annabel tends to bottle up anything unsavory or problematic about her life, so unwilling she is to create waves or stress. Still, sometimes I wanted to shake her to break her out of this paralyzing sense of responsibility.

Another aspect I enjoyed was the portrayal of how Annabel's family dealt with her sister Whitney's eating disorder. It came across as very realistic.

The only reason I didn't give this book a full 5 stars was that I wanted the relationship between Owen and Annabel to be better fleshed out. I feel like we were only given one aspect - that Owen loved music and Annabel found herself able to be honest when relating to Owen through this passion - of their relationship. Rather, I wish we could have seen how Owen was able to teach Annabel that it was okay to have negative emotions and that anger wasn't something to be completely ignored but rather managed.

Also, given how important the character of Sophie was in Annabel's history and her current situation, I felt that we didn't get to see enough of that relationship. Supposedly, Sophie and Annabel were best friends. Yet every interaction we were shown via flashback indicated that Sophie was nothing but a negative presence in Annabel's life. While I get that Annabel lacked the self-esteem to leave such a toxic relationship, I just didn't get why losing Sophie as friend was such a bad thing. Sophie came across as a one-note character - the quintessential mean girl - and I kind of wanted a piano to fall on her head by the end of the book.

Overall, though, I loved this story. Can't wait to read more by Dessen.