REVIEW: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

“Silence is so freaking loud.”


Title/Author: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Series: Standalone

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers/Speak

Release Date: April 6, 2006

Genre: YA, Contemporary

ISBN: 9780670061051


Last year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.

This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.


I have got to say, I was not expecting to like this book as much as I did. Actually, I didn’t like it, I loved it! There was not one part of this book that I hadn’t enjoyed. I spent everyday, waiting to come home and dive back into this book!

Something I loved about this novel was all of the characters’ stories. The whole story was from Annabel’s perspective, but within this 370 page book, so many stories were revealed. It all really started when Annabel and her two sisters, Kirsten and Whitney modelled without any problems. They lived the teenage dream, as it seemed. But everything quickly went down the drain. After moving to New York, Kirsten and Whitney’s relationship slowly dwindled. But, it also gave them each a story. Whitney’s body went into eating disorder territory, due to the lack of food she ate. Thankfully she ended up recovering, learning to love to cook and eat healthy. Kirsten on the other hand, struggling to juggle a job and modelling, retired from her modelling career and moved on to getting an education!

But there were also so many more stories that all had something to do with Annabel. First came Clarke, Emily and Sophie, three girls that Annabel was once friends with. But with friendship sometimes comes betrayal. Clarke’s friendship with Annabel was over the moment she left her sitting at home as she followed Sophie to a party. With Emily, it ended another way that I will get to later. But Sophie was really the person who changed Annabel’s life. Their friendship lasted, and then broke apart in a terrible way. Ironically, the same way that Sophie and Emily’s relationship ended. A misinterpretation of a situation.

Annabel was actually a victim to sexual assault. By Sophie’s boyfriend. Can you believe how wrong this sounds? Terribly. But really, it joined eating disorders on the list of issues that Sarah Dessen covered in this novel. They are such horrible things that happen to so many teens these days. Eating disorders happen so often, but sometimes they are left unnoticeable. Along with Whitney, teens don’t go for help. It is such a harsh topic to read about but Sarah Dessen wrote about it in an amazing way. If you have gone through an eating disorder and are currently in recovery, try this book out and read about Whitney’s story. I don’t think it will be triggering since it isn’t even from Whitney’s perspective, but I believe it could open eyes to what others see.

Now, can you believe that I still haven’t talked about my favorite character yet? Haha already past 600 words and I haven’t even covered our hottie for the novel? What is life? Well, in this book we had the ever-so-gorgeous Owen Armstrong to fall in love with. And if you are a music lover like myself, you would totally fall head over heels for him. Owen is that bad-boy that every school has who basically get unacknowledged by EVERYONE. People fear him for his past. But really, he has so many inspirational words built up in him that were left unsaid for the longest time! And the one thing he loves to talk about most, is music!

I found the concept of this novel very inspiring. When you first look at the cover, you can spot an ancient iPod, in the front pocket of a girl’s jeans with earbuds dangling out of the headphone jack. That iPod played such a huge role in the novel, let alone music. The iPod was Owen’s prized possession, the one thing he couldn’t live without. But if you could not tell by the title, or the cover, this whole book is about music really. It shows that there are just so many different genres. It also showed me that you are never truly alone with music.

But now that I have read this book, I have also come to understand how loud, silence is. I am writing this post outside with the loud noises of an air conditioner and an airplane flying thousands of feet in the air. There are also quite a few other distinct noises including rustling leaves, flies buzzing and the noise of my keyboard clicking as I press my fingers down on each key. Nothing is quiet about my current situation. But when you are alone in a room, with only silence filling the space, you realize how much louder everything is. You end up thinking about your deepest and darkest thoughts and then there ends up being just silence and you. If you ever need to let your thoughts free, find a silent area and let the silence drive your thoughts.

Some people’s escape is music, while others, like mine are books. Or maybe you are like Whitney and like to use a pen and a notebook. Or maybe like Kirsten, who escapes with a camera. There is always something that you can escape with. And trust me, YOU NEED IT! Everyone needs to escape reality from time to time. You need to get away from all of the drama in your life and hook yourself up with something you enjoy!

There were so many things that I would love to talk about this book, but I do not want this review to go on forever! But, I can proudly give this book 5 stars. It had a huge effect on my views of both people and judging people. It also taught me some life lessons that I just know will stick with me in the future.

If you are looking for an inspiring contemporary, definitely pick this one up! It is the first work I have read by Sarah Dessen and it is getting me super excited to read so many more!

THAT’S IT FOR TODAY! I hope you all enjoyed my review of this book! Don’t forget to like, comment and follow for even more posts!

Happy Reading!


5 thoughts on “REVIEW: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

    1. Definitely pick it up! I feel like Sarah Dessen isn’t a huge contemporary author any more, but her works are amazing!


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