My Kyrosmagica Review of Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

WP_20151126_006 (1)

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.

My review:

Just Listen is enjoyable, a fairly light read given its underlying subject matter.  The main character is Annabel, the youngest sister of three girls who are all encouraged by their mother to model.  Annabel’s best friend Sophie is popular, and being around her seems to have elevated Annabel’s status, but Annabel feels uncomfortable around Will, Sophie’s boyfriend. In time we learn why this is. Just Listen roused my emotions but in my opinion it could have been a more thought provoking read if it explored the personal emotions, and trauma of Annabel being attacked, and her immediate response to that more realistically but instead Annabel chose to remain silent and I found this quite frustrating. Okay, the reader is meant to take from this that she couldn’t bear to tell anyone and I understand that but nevertheless it just seemed a little unrealistic given the circumstances. There are a wide variety of themes that are explored in this novel: anorexia, sibling relationships, families, secrets, boy/girl relationships, sexual assault, and friendship difficulties. The writing is marked by a fair amount of telling which at times slows down and overburdens the narrative.

 Overall, I  would rate this 4 stars, due to the points mentioned below:

 Just Listen’s  strengths lie in its:

Portrayal of family life, particularly sibling relationships, the dynamics of the three sisters is where the real emotion of the novel lies. I found myself really moved by certain chapters in the book which explored the relationships between the sisters.

Owen’s character is another high point of the novel he really brought the story to life for me, in fact I would say that he is perhaps a more engaging character than Annabel. Annabel by the very act of withholding her emotions, comes across as quite frustrating. I felt great sympathy when I discovered what had happened to her but I desperately wanted her to confide in Owen but instead, to begin with, she ran away. I do get why she did this but nevertheless I wanted her to do the right thing and tell him and stand up so that other girls wouldn’t go through the same thing. 


I liked how Sarah Dessen explored this very human tendency to judge people by their looks, and by other peoples’ reactions to them, rather than looking deeper and discovering for ourselves that everyone can be different and more complex than we expect. Owen,  is a perfect example, he sits apart from everyone, is immersed in his music, needs anger management to handle his emotions, but there is so much more to him than those  simple facts alone. Even family members can have an unexpected side to them, a case in point is Annabel’s mother, who turns out to be tougher than we might imagine.

The multitude of secrets and hurts that lay buried waiting to be discovered, are fascinating, particularly set amongst the pressures to be the perfect skinny, flawless beauty in the much desired world of modelling.

 Music really felt like a character in this novel, and played a pivotal point in the storyline which was such a nice unexpected touch.

This is the first Sarah Dessen novel that I have read, on the whole I enjoyed Just Listen, especially the detail regarding the sibling relationships in the latter part of the novel.

I’d recommend Just Listen to readers of YA, Contemporary, Romance, Chick lit.

 

Have you read any Sarah Dessen books, do let me know if you have.

Bye for now,

file

 

Marje @ Kyrosmagica xx

Sharing Options:

My Friday Image: The Mysteries of Lock and Key

fitting-374781__180 A key. Just a simple word yet it holds a multitude of possibilities in its grasp, a twist of the wrist enables us  to discover a multitude of hidden, secret, mysterious, places. passage-301439__180

key-hole-253457__180
The Keyhole St Peter’s Basillica, Rome
st-peters-basilica-96577_640
St Peters Basilica Rome

A key to someone’s heart? Or a chest of hidden secrets, or a forbidden journey? love-421606__180  The Idea of Order at Key West Have you read The Idea of Order at Key West?  A poem by Wallace Stevens. It begins like this:

She sang beyond the genius of the sea.   
The water never formed to mind or voice,   
Like a body wholly body, fluttering
Its empty sleeves; and yet its mimic motion   
Made constant cry, caused constantly a cry,   
That was not ours although we understood,   
Inhuman, of the veritable ocean.

I discovered it quite by chance today while I was searching for inspiring images about the word key. In “The Idea of Order at Key West,” Stevens explores  several interesting themes: art, creativity, imagination and reality.  In the poem the speaker and his friend listen to a woman singing on a beach in Key West. It’s a beautiful poem isn’t it? Here’s the link to read this stunning poem in its entirety, The Idea of Order At Key West by Wallace Stevens: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/172206   bar-542568__180 The Key West Literary Seminar

Then the word key helped me to discover The Key West Literary Seminar, celebrating writers and writing. This literary event is held each January, attracting an international audience to hear such writers as Ian McEwan, Margaret Atwood, Billy Collins, and Joyce Carol Oates. Find out more at: http://www.kwls.org/

The title for the 2015 seminar, “How The Light Gets In,” is inspired by Leonard Cohen’s 1992 song, “Anthem”—“Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

Where will the Mysteries of Lock and Key take me to next?

Ernest Hemingway’s Home
Then my lucky key helped me find out about Nobel prize–winning author Ernest Hemingway’s former home in Key West. It is a National Historic Landmark, Literary Landmark and recorded at the Library of Congress as a Historic American Building It is now open to the public as a museum, populated by as many as 60 descendants of his famous polydacty cats.
Quite fascinating.
th5C01NBN3
A Polydactyl cat
SIX TOED CAT!
thGHNEMMXY
 This fellow looks up to
 MISCHIEF!
thBS7QR3IW
 We’re just
LOUNGING AROUND!
thEM6NQXM5
 I’ve had too much wine.
 I’M IN DANGER OF FALLING OFF THE TABLE!
thSS123G7E
An illustrated Biography of Hemingway’s cats written by Carlene Fredericka Brennan with a Foreward by Hilary Hemingway.
Here’s the link to find out more about the home: http://hemingwayhome.com/
And biography of his life:
Where else could the word key take me?
Piano Keys
Of course, piano keys.
The piano keys are the players rendition of the meanderings of his twisting and turning soul.

piano-315016__180     music-279333__180 Yes, the imagination is meandering way off course now and going wild !

Quotes about keys On the theme of keys here’s a quote from Anthony Liccione: “Don’t try to be the missing key in my life, and I won’t be the unmatched lock, that doesn’t let you in.” Anthony Liccione is a Goodreads author. Here’s a link to his very successful Facebook page on Quotes: https://www.facebook.com/Quotes2Quote?ref=hl

Finally I discovered: Sarah Dessen Lock And Key

th A quote from Lock and Key: “It’s a lot easier to be lost than found. It’s the reason we’re always searching and rarely discovered–so many locks not enough keys.” thSUXRGESN Goodreads synopsis of Lock and Key : Ruby, where is your mother? Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return. That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give? Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again. I reckon this sounds like a book that I must read sometime, sounds interesting ……………….. A key …………. Yes, there is something very mysterious in this tiny word, isn’t there? Trust me it’s true!

Sharing Options: