Just Listen now replaces This Lullaby as my favorite by Sarah Dessen and has earned a well deserved place among my favorite YAs of all time. This is one of the most beautifully written novels I’ve ever read and I’m still a bit sniffling as I’m writing this review.
The story is mainly about Annabel, who despite her beauty and popularity just wants to keep to herself and opts to hide her true feelings and problems being the youngest daughter of three girls in her family. Seeing her parents already going through so much especially with her middle sister’s illness, she decides to unburden her own family by burying in silence her deepest, darkest trouble and attempts to live her life by simply trying to forget until she becomes friends with Owen who could be quickly described as a teenage Hulk with constant earphones and a faithful servant of honesty and straightforwardness. Together, Annabel and he are dubbed as Beauty and the Beast but I love that they both don’t care, especially Owen who has this admirable, refreshing character and personality. I learned quite a lot from him especially from his effective anger management techniques and his passionate perspective about music even if his choices are mostly eccentric.
This is one of those YA contemporaries that managed to hit so many targets in just one story. It also managed to shoot me straight to the heart resulting to unavoidable waterworks even though there were so many times the characters and dialogues cracked me up too. I love that the story is rich in themes especially on family, how it portrays both the dark and bright side of every family, how every individual member sometimes goes through something so dark but that is what family is for, to be there for you no matter what. I also love the individual stories of Annabel and her sisters that put so much meaning and layers in the story contributing to this one whole meaningful theme that resonated throughout the novel. I also admire the emphasis on the power of music, its ability to heal, to connect people and to make important memories linger.
JUST LISTEN. Two very short and simple words consisting of one simple sentence but these two words will now mean so much more to me and hopefully to more people out there as well because whether we admit it or not, a lot of people spend more time talking than really listening. I take back my most recent comment on Ms. Sarah Dessen’s books because she has exceeded herself in this novel. She has earned both my awe and respect for coming up with this beautiful piece that gripped, touched, inspired and most of all enlightened me and I would wholeheartedly recommend this to everyone.