Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen #MHAWJune Edition!

Just ListenJust Listen | Sarah Dessen | Penguin Publishing | Stand Alone | 4 Stars | Source: Bought | Young Adult Contemporary 
Release Date: April 6, 2006 

Goodreads Synopsis:

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.


 More often than not, I am in a reading slump. This has been on my shelf since November and I picked it up on a whim. This is not my first Sarah Dessen book, but it is definiely my favourite one to date!

The story followes Annabel, she is the girl who has it all. Or so it seems. It is apparent while we are reading that something had happened before summer that made her lose everything. When she goes back to school her best friends hate her and no one will even look at her.

I was a huge fan of out main character, not necesarily because of her actions towards others, but for her development as a characters. Annabel is notourrious for holding things in. With the issues Whitnety is having it the moment, her family does not need any more problems so she never wants to be the burden. As the novel goes on, she learns that she can’t keep all of her feelings bottled up and this comes with the help pf Owen.

Owen was another character I enjoyed reading about. After a bout of angermanagment, he has vowed never to lie again. Not only does this provide a brutally honest character, but it also provides th oppotunity to readers to see someone who says the world as he sees it. Which is pretty damn refereshing, I tell you.

Overall, this is definitely a new favourite of mine. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing all of the characters develop, all of the revelations come to life and seeing very complex and hard to talk about issues such as eating disorders dealt with in the most plausible way possible! I will definitely be revisiting this again and picking up more of Sarah Dessen’s work!

EXTRAS: Just Listen’s relation to #MHAWJune (Mental Health Awareness Month) TW: Anorexia

Our main chatacter’s Sister is named Whitney. Like her older and younger sister, she is a model and many times has descibed herself as half and half of each of her sisters making her just inbetween.

Whitney has Annorexia Nervosa. At no point in the novel is it ever linked to her modelling career, may I add. I studied this mental illness for my A-Levels which by no means  makes me an expert but  do know some facts & stats about it.

For me Dessen’s protrayal of Anorexia was exreme plausible and real. I think the way she seperated Whitney from her disoder is very well done. To the point where Annabel even says how you don’t know whether you are dealing with Whitney or her eating disorder and didn’t resent her when she came accross sometimes unkind and abrupt.  Another element I enjoyed was the parents reaction to what was happening. The initial denial, the realiztion, the attempt at understanig and then the constant control.

The way Whitney’s recovery was documented was incredibly well done aswell. There is are points in the book such as when she takes Kristen and Annabel to an open mic gig where you see the stages of her recovery and how they have all come together to where she was at the end of the novel. The timelines is incrdibly realistic. She has come incredibly far but she still has a way to go. One huge pet peeve of mine is when an illness whether mental or physical heals within an unrealistic amount of time. I think it does not do people who have suffered at the same hands any justice.

Goodreads Average: 4.09/5  (out of 133,190 ratings)


8 thoughts on “Review: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen #MHAWJune Edition!

  1. Faye M. says:

    I rarely get to read about books where anorexia is tackled as the central conflict, and I’m surprised there aren’t many about it considering it’s such an issue among the youth today. It’s very heartening to see it was portrayed realistically and well, because the last thing we need is a book that does this and the victims of this illness a huge disservice. Never real a Dessen before, but if ever I do, this will be my first. Lovely review, Alex!

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews


  2. Rashika says:

    I haven’t ever read a Dessen book because I’ve never really thought that her books are for me but you have my attention at the mention of a brutally honest character. I always appreciate honesty and I am definitely intrigued by Owen’s character!

    Lovely review, Alex!! 🙂


    • Alex @ The Shelf Diaries says:

      He is probably my favourite of the whole book. There was also a certain air of naivety around him as he genuinely did not see why you couldn’t be honest all of the time. I hope you get to read it soon if you decide to take a look at it! 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by sweetpea! 🙂 xxx


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