Monday, October 17, 2011

Book Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Published: 2006

Sarah Dessen's stories have a way of seeping and creeping. They seep into your psyche and creep back up while reading other books (or perhaps working on your own contemporary YA novel). I've found myself wondering, what would Sarah Dessen do for this character?

At first I wondered why sites like Forever Young Adult built a virtual blog-shrine of frenzied posts about her novels. I read The Truth About Forever and liked a lot of the characters, but it wasn't anything I was too excited about. But Dessen's work is a slow burn. Her characters aren't flashy, no one has superpowers that mysteriously spring up at age 16, there are no wolves-turned-bare-chested-boys. Her stories are about plain girls with hidden hurts who learn to love and laugh through unexpected friendships. The stories are memorable in their simplicity.

Just Listen has similarities to Dessen's other works. I tend to attach to her supporting characters. Owen, the unlikely friend Annabel Green makes after a falling out with her best friend, is quirky and likeable. Owen hosts a local radio show featuring obscure music and is essentially a loner. He is sort of the wise guru to Annabel by sharing what he learned in anger management, which is a revelation to Annabel considering her upbringing taught her to avoid conflict at all costs. I'm often frustrated by Dessen's protagonists because they tend to get stepped on in all kinds of ways. Sure, they redeem themselves eventually, but it can be a painful ride to get there. There are some interesting family dynamics here. Basically, if you're a fan of her work, this fits in well with her cadre of books.


  1. I love Fantasy, but it might be nice to try a book that's grounded in the real world.

  2. I've just started reading THIS LULLIBY. It's the first book I've read by Sarah Dessen, so we'll see how it goes!

  3. I read This Lullaby and have pretty much the same thoughts on that as this one. I have nitpicky issues from a writing perspective, but I understand the appeal of her books.


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