This is a review of momentous significance and importance. (No, I’m not bragging.) You see, Just Listen is my first-ever Sarah Dessen book! I know, I know—”But Renae, you say contemporary YA is your favorite. How have you not read Sarah Dessen before?” Uh…yeah, I have no valid excuses. I’m a failure, okay? Point at me and laugh; make fun of my unworthy fan status. I can handle it.
But now that you’re done heckling, we can move on the important part: I read a Sarah Dessen book! Thank you, thank you. I’d like to especially thank the Academy, and my parents, and Viking Juvenile and…
And we’re done. I apologize for excessive silliness. On the the important part—my review.
The thing with Just Listen is that it doesn’t bring anything new to the bookish world (or maybe it did back in 2006 when it was first published). The formerly popular girl who made mistakes and then hooks up with sensitive loner guy? We all know that story. It’s everywhere! So I think that if you want to read this book (which you most definitely do, if you’re one of the uncool persons who hasn’t done so yet, and no need to worry, because I was formerly uncool also), don’t expect fireworks and shock-factor and moments of “OMG!” Because basically, I figured out the entire story within the first chapter.
However, predictability and unremarkable story (in my opinion) did not stop me from grinnng like a fool during a goodly portion of this book. I would say that I very rarely smile whilst reading, but because I’ve been reading a lot of light contemporary of late, that is no longer true. Anyway, yes—Just Listen is really cute. The interaction between the protagonist, Annabel, and her love interest, Owen, was adorable. See, Owen is really big into music, like…obsessed with obscure, weird music like drippy faucets or chanting or whatever. And then Annabel gives him her opinion on the music, and they sort-of-argue and it’s really cute. So cute I had a happy-grin.
As far as plot, I’m not really sure I could give a good run-down. Wendy said that Sarah Dessen books are “about nothing and yet absolutely everything at the same time” and though I only have Just Listen to use as evidence, I definitely agree. This book is just about one girl living her life, in maybe less-than-great circumstances, but it’s not all depressing, and it’s not all awesome. And I would say that this is very realistic, except for the almost (but not quite) cheesy-movie factor Dessen’s storytelling had, especially when, toward the end, Annabel was suddenly enlightened and discovered great insight into everything, all at once. I didn’t really buy it, but I think it worked for this kind of story.
Anyhoo. Overall, my first encounter with the Sarah Dessen (that author of mythical proportions), was a fairly solid success. Just Listen isn’t my favorite book, and I’m hoping that any future Dessens I try out will work better for me. But either way, I liked Just Listen, and I can now gracefully (or not so gracefully) bow off of this awards podium with my shiny trophy for Not Being A Poser YA Contemp Fan.
It’s been an honor.