Just Listen.

2:58 AM

Just ListenJust Listen by Sarah Dessen

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Rating: 4 stars

Once again, I tremendously enjoyed Sarah Dessen's writing. More than I expected to, and this time I really expected it. I've learnt my lesson and realized that the synopsis at the back does not reflect the contents of the book at all. They make the story sound so lame and childish, but it really isn't. And I was right!

The story is about Annabel who at first glance seemed like a perfect girl. The one who 'has it all'. She was a model and had a family that loved her. She was also one of the more popular girls in school and got invited to alot of parties. However, the plot starts when this illusion was shattered instantly, when she had a fallout with her best friend, Sophie. There was a huge EVENT that made Sophie hate the very sight of Annabel. And instantly made Annabel the enemy as rumour has it that she made a pass on Sophie's boyfriend. Meanwhile, her 'perfect family' was also falling apart at the seams as her sisters had personal problems and her mother dealt with the death of Annabel's grandmother. In the midst of everything, Annabel kept in control and kept to herself at all times. Afraid of letting her feelings show and letting the truth out. Living in social exclusion, she met Owen who was obsessed with music. And "obsessed" was really the only word to describe his attitude towards music. Somehow, the Girl who never speaks and the Boy who always listens, struck up a friendship that would be integral to face the hardships of life ahead.

I really loved the story. It was not as predictable as I thought it would be and the pacing was great. I loved how smoothly Sarah Dessen's writing moved from past to present, weaving flashbacks effortlessly into the main story. It didn't break he flow at all and it kept adding new elements and layers to the present, changing my perspective of characters and happenings each time.

Speaking of which, the characters were GREAT. They are very realistic and very relate-able. The main girl, Annabel was not at all spoilt or annoying as I would imagine pretty models like her would be. And she was not perfect. There were times when I wanted to smack her in the face for doing something completely stupid or being too scared to speak up. But this wasn't done in an annoying way. Her flaws somehow, just made her more real and I could understand her better. 'Cos she herself admits her shortcomings and follies. I find that admirable in a character. While others might see her character as abit bland, I find her likeable and real. The fact that she wasn't so vocal about her problems, is something I think many people can understand.

Other characters were well done and explored well. Owen was not just a mysterious handsome knight in shining armour. He too has issues he's dealing with and he doesn't always do the right thing, but he always tries and that was what I found so endearing about him. I loved his character alot! Sophie was that bitch that everyone loves to hate but even then, it is hard not to sympathize with her 'cos she is not just mean for the sake of it. She has her scars too and a victim in her own ways. My only wish was that Clarke's story would be explored abit more as I think of her as an important part of Annabel's life. Whitney's story shed light on a very important contemporary issue, anorexia. I felt that her character and the way her story was told, was done maturely and well. Just enough for readers to draw their own conclusions and make their own judgements.

I do realize that Sarah Dessen's stories can be rather formulaic and predictable if you have read enough of her books. And I don't see anything wrong with that. I feel that it just adds to the style and her genre. It usually centers around girls with problems who meet handsome guys who help them and they end up falling in love and at the end, the girl realizes something profound about herself/the world. But the thing is, I LOVE this formula. And the themes that she explores in each book are different.

I liked how, in the story, one photo at different times could be seen in a totally different light, signifying change in oneself. The idea that each song was mental time travel machine that brings you back to exact moments in life that you relate them to. This book actually dealt alot with perception. Which got me thinking alot. And while music tells alot about a person and helps us express ourselves, silence is needed as well, for only then will you be able to hear your true self.

There were several poignant moments in this book that made me stop and reread them again, then reflect a little by myself. So while the story seems quite simple and predictable, the words that are used to tell this story is what's important and holds more meaning and function than just simply telling the story. Which is why I love Sarah's books so much.

It's not just about the story, but the way it is told.

Overall, a lovely and quick read that can be a sweet teenage romance story or something more, depending on how you wanna read it. =)

View all my reviews

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