Published April 6, 2006 by Viking Juvenile
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.
Sarah Dessen is pretty much a goddess when it comes to contemporary YA. She nails family dynamics, and I’ve yet to be disappointed in any of her characters. They’re all so believable, it’s hard to imagine they’re fictional.
Just Listen reminded me a lot of This Lullaby (which is my favorite Dessen book, and remains as such), and there were even a couple of key characters from This Lullaby who made a small appearance in Just Listen. I assumed I would like the book from the beginning just because of the strong role music plays, and I was right. I loved Owen and his strong feelings about music. He reminded me a bit of myself, but a lot more of some people in my life.
The only negative thing I can really say is that I think Just Listen may have tackled too many tough subjects. I’m not saying Dessen doesn’t do a wonderful job with these subjects—she does. But there are two serious issues in this novel and I think they kind of cancelled each other out. I didn’t quite feel the emotional punch that I think I would have if only one of them had been present. Regardless—I still enjoyed Just Listen and would definitely recommend it.