Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Review:

Just Listen - Sarah DessenThis was a much better book than I expected. The way it handled serious issues was careful and deliberate.

Trigger warnings for rape and sexual assault.

To find the truth you’ve got to be willing to hear it.

When she’s modeling, Annabel is the picture of perfection.

But her real life is far from perfect.

Fortunately, she’s got Owen. He’s intense, music-obsessed, and dedicated to always telling the truth.

And most of all, he’s determined to make Annabel happy. . .

With this description, I wasn’t really prepared for what I found in this book. As mentioned above, the issues were handled with great care. While rape was at the center of the story, it also has mention of and dealings with eating disorders but never blames the victim. Owen is important, but I felt like this description inflates his importance. I expected a bit of a rom-com type story where Annabel’s life isn’t perfect but her problems aren’t quite being the victim of a violent crime, you know what I mean?

Yes, her life wasn’t perfect before the rape either and that’s obvious from it’s first mention, but that’s not the point either. Owen is also not an “Edward” like figure as the description also led me to believe. Maybe it’s just my own misguided interpretation but I feel like “intense” is one of the words used in yound adult stories to denote a boy who turns your life upside down and then is borderline abusive in some way. Owen is absolutely wonderful and his version of intensity is more the insistence of honesty and his level of comfort in his own skin than the way he broods or tries to control her life, neither of which are things he does.

I loved absolutely every character, except one, of course. They all worked well to propel Annabel’s character growth. It was well paced and I enjoyed both the family drama and the school drama, especially the work they worked together to prompt Annabel to act. I thought it presented a great narrative for how such events come into being and how people respond to them.

I borrowed the audiobook from the library, which is read by Jennifer Ikeda. She’s a fantastic narrator, having won a few awards for it already. For worldwide options on where to purchase the book, in case you’re interested in doing so, click on the cover photo and you’ll be directed to the Booklikes book page for this.

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