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Just Listen    by Sarah Dessen Amazon.com order for
Just Listen
by Sarah Dessen
Order:  USA  Can
Puffin, 2008 (2006)
Hardcover, Paperback, e-Book

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* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Annabelle Green is a junior in high school, a working model, the middle of three sisters, and friend to Sophie. Being Sophie's friend defines Annabelle when she begins this first person account, which is told in flashbacks. Annabelle first meets Sophie when they are twelve. She soon learns that having prickly and abrasive Sophie as a friend isn't easy. Having her as an enemy would be worse.

When Sophie thinks Annabelle is making a play for her boyfriend Chris Wells at the end-of-school party, Annabelle, who dislikes confrontation, chooses to spend her summer in solitary confinement. Junior year begins with Sophie calling Annabelle a slut, which becomes her mantra whenever she sees her. Sophie has the entire school thinking Annabelle was fooling around with her boyfriend. Annabelle keeps what really happened inside until she meets Owen.

Owen is the school's mystery man. He's six foot four, quiet and brooding. Everyone has left him alone after he decked a tormenter in the parking lot the year before. After an incident involving Sophie, Owen drives Annabelle home and they begin a friendship. Owen is completely honest and expects honesty from his friends. He is also obsessed with music all kinds of music. He has a community radio show that he calls Anger Management.

Annabelle is not a wave maker. In her world, being kind is more important than being truthful. Annabelle first learns it's okay to be honest while discussing music with Owen. They talk about what he plays on his radio show and she gives him her honest opinion about his choices.

In Just Listen, Dessen paints the picture of a normal family and the normal family has flaws. They're always there for each other, but first they have to admit there is a problem.

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