Book Review- Just Listen (by Sarah Dessen)



NOTE: This post gives a fair amount of the plot away. My apologies.

Why did you choose this book?

I chose this book because I was looking for a good list of reading books online.

Explain the plot of the book.

Annabel is in high school, and she is a model. On the outside it looks like she has the perfect life. But her life is significantly less than perfect.

This book is about a girl who’s life fell apart after a night at a party. The main character’s name is Annabel. After one day she lost one of her best friends; her friend that she had grown up with. Later in the book, Annabel shares a flashback. The flashback is of another night, when she loses her “best friend,” and her popularity. (I put best friend in quotes because the girl really isn’t a good friend to Annabel at all.)

Annabel’s best friend, (that she lost, and at the end of the book makes up with,) is named Clarke. She lost Clarke when she chose Sophie over her. Sophie is a mean girl who posed as Annabel’s best friend for awhile. When Annabel met Sophie, her life changed.

At home, Annabel is constantly pressured from her mom to continue modeling. Even though Annabel doesn’t want to persevere in the modeling business, she doesn’t speak up for herself and tell her mom.

At home, Annabel also sees her sister going through depression and anorexia nervosa. As someone who has experienced/is experiencing living with a close family member with depression, I can understand/relate directly to Annabel’s hopes, wishes, and feelings for her sister.

At the party, Annabel gets sexually assaulted. She loses Sophie, because Sophie failed to understand what actually happened behind those closed doors.

At school, Annabel is called a whore and a slut by her ex-“best friend,” Sophie. Both are harsh words that no one should ever call someone else. Sophie uses slander to ruin Annabel’s reputation.

At school, Annabel also has no friends. She sits next to Owen, a guy always has headphones on and always listens to music, and who everyone thinks is scary because he has anger-management issues.

When Annabel finally has a conversation with Owen, she finds that he is good company and that she can have in-depth conversations with him. Owen teaches her how to speak her mind and be truthful, as well as educating her about his music and how it helps him. With his help, she is able to tell her mom that she wants to quit modeling. With his help she is able to testify in court against the guy who tried to rape her. After he teaches her how to stand up for herself in confrontations, and that it is okay to be angry, Annabel is able to become friends with Clarke, her best friend that she lost because Sophie told her to choose between them, again.

By the end of the book, Annabel finds a significant other, is able to be happy again and is able to find friends.

Describe one of the characters in the book. Would you want to meet this character? Why or why not?

Sophie is not understanding, not a good friend, and she doesn’t make good decisions. I would not like to meet Sophie or anyone like her in my entire life. I wouldn’t like to meet her or be friends with her because she does really mean things to people and she uses slander. She is “popular,” but no one likes her. She puts people in uncomfortable situations, and forces them to do things, by threatening her friendship.

What is your opinion of the book? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

This book is really good. I would rate it a 8.5/10 because, while the plot was AMAZING, interesting and heartbreaking, Sarah Dessen’s writing style isn’t very interesting. I recommend this book mostly because of the plot.

There are five main things that change in Annabel’s life. After you read the book, feel free to comment and share your ideas about what are some of the greatest changes in Annabel’s life.

Even if you don’t like romanic fiction, read this book; there is so much more to Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, then just the love interest.


Explain how this book is similar to another book, film, story, or article that you have read or seen. What connections or comparisons can you make?

This book kind of reminds me of The Giver by Lois Lowry because Annabel lives in this utopia, she lives in this world that is supposed to be perfect. “…I could always see [the] cars [that were] passing [slow] down slightly, the drivers glancing in at us for this happy snapshot, a happy family…But everyone knows, looks can be deceiving.” (Page 49.) Annabel is talking about the fact that her family seems so perfect, like a dollhouse; when really, her school life and her home life is imperfect by far. The latter is what she directly is talking about in the quote. In The Giver, Lowry describes Jonas’ home as this “perfect” utopia; one that looks flawless from far away, but really, if you look closely, has many flaws that need to be addressed.

What do you think the main idea or theme of this story is? What is the author trying to tell you about life or our world with this book? 

I think that the author was trying to tell the reader that communication is a key aspect in our world. Annabel didn’t stand up for herself; she didn’t tell anyone that a boy tried to rape her; she didn’t tell her mom she wanted to quit modeling; and she didn’t want to face Clarke, because she was scared that Clarke would push her away. Annabel was scared of confrontation, but by the end of the book she figures out that it is a necessary aspect of communication.

Remember that if anything bad happens to you, tell someone, please, it’s important, and you’ll feel better for it.

NOTE: This book has an attempted rape scene, so please, use your judgement on wether you should read it or not.

Reading Suggestions:

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Stick Figure by Lori Gottlieb (See my review: Stick Figure [This book is if you want to learn more about anorexia nervosa.])

The Giver by Lois Lowry (See my review: The Giver)

Thanks for reading! 🙂 Please check out some of my other posts to get good reading suggestions. Feel free to comment below!


One thought on “Book Review- Just Listen (by Sarah Dessen)

  1. Pingback: Book Review- Along For The Ride (by Sarah Dessen) | NABILA-Language_Arts

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