Parent reviews for Just Listen

Common Sense says

Teen girl struggles following trauma in riveting novel.
Based on our expert review

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 91 reviews
Adult Written byDawnslight03 April 20, 2010

Magnificent read for freshmen and up....

This book is very well-written, and Dessen does a wonderful job covering difficult topics. She handles an attempted rape with a conservative intelligence. Although I believe the language is too harsh for younger teens/tweens, anyone fourteen and above should be able to handle it. Annabelle and Owen are interesting characters, and their ability to live separate lives makes their relationship more realistic. The Truth About Forever is my favorite Dessen work, but Just Listen runs a very close second.

This title contains:

Positive role models
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byHopeinJC February 19, 2010
Not at all appropriate for middle schoolers and I am angry
my 7th grader's literature teacher is recommending it to all the girls.

This title contains:

Sexy stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult Written byvictorianmermaid August 6, 2015

Great book

This is a great book for the very mature young lady. It deals with subject such as rape, underage drinking and smoking. Definitely not for everyone. I personally really enjoyed this book but I didn't read it til my junior year of high school. Read with caution.

This title contains:

Violence & scariness
Sexy stuff
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adult Written bywrite on track June 3, 2010

A good real life example of eting disorders...

I really like how Dessen portrayed anorexia through a different point of view, and how it can affect the lives of family members and others that really care about you.

This title contains:

Positive Messages
Adult Written byDJgirl April 9, 2008

Just Read It!

In Just Listen, Sarah Dessen creates a realistic world that any teenager would be familiar with and explores it fearlessly. She neither dumbs down nor cleans up her protagonist Annabel's high school experience, so there are some bad words and risky behaviors included in the narrative. While sensitive issues such as rape are dealt with, they are presented in an intelligent and thoughtful way. Girls will empathize with Annabel and hopefully learn something from her story. I would strongly recommend this and other books by Sarah Dessen to girls ages 14 and up.
Adult Written bywildsoftbal0614 April 9, 2008

I seriously could not put this book down!

I usually am not much of a reader but for some reason i bought this book. When i started reading it, i just couldn't stop! I read it in one weekend, which is pretty amazing for me! It is a really great book I would recommend it to all girls around 16-25. It is sooo good!
Adult Written bymoviemadness April 9, 2008

Must read for teens

This book is a wonderfull example of a good book for teen girls. The characters are complex and believable. The language, the discussion of rape and severe eating disorders, and the overall maturity of the book makes it inappropriate for tweens.
Adult Written bymcoate April 9, 2008

Great Read

This is a wonderful read for any teenaged girl. It was very hard to put down, page turner to the very end. You end up with true emotions for all characters involved, whether the emotions are good or bad. The main plotline being an attempted rape makes this such a moving story, and makes a girls struggles so much more understood.
Parent of a 14-year-old Written byDonna Aitoro Wi... April 28, 2010

Perfect for parents, too, who want to listen...

One of the beautiful things about reading is that you can remember what it was like to be a certain age. Even though I didn't grow up with I-pods and CDs, some things never change, like the power of friendships and music. I'm grateful to Dessen for helping me remember what it was like to be an adolesclent: awkward, self-conscious, hypersensitive. These aspects of the text helped me connect up more with my own 14 year old daughter, since it's been so long since I've been one, myself. Equally sympathetic was the character of Owen. I thought the text, although stereotypical in this respect, showed him struggling with his anger, and channelling that energy into more productive and ultimately more satisfying activities, like playing music for a community radio station under the program name of "Anger Management," in a wonderful twist on an old, tired theme. Externalizing anger like this is a good way to deal with those demons. You go, Owen!

Other things I like about the book is that Annabel is a completely sympathetic character. As a middle child, she's got it rough, and tries to become invisible, something girls (no matter where they are in the sibling order) have to resist doing. I also like how Dessen wove the theme of finding one's voice into the text, showing that it isn't about "just listening." This becomes even more trenchant when couple with the notion of rape, and how rape victims were often threatened with having their tongues cut out if they ever "told" their stories. Whitney's eating disorder was sensitively drawn, and I like how the narrative showed the actual steps Whitney took to overcome her illness, and about the power of writing, again, to externalize these demons. Reading about it might help a young girl overcome the disorder, in a similar way. It didn't romanticize anorexia/bulimia, or use it gratuitously. I liked how Dessen evened out the whole modelling, "lookism" thing with some real-life, negative narrative commentary about how things are so commercialized and product-oriented in our culture.

I particularly like how the book ended on a hopeful note. Overall, this is an intelligent read with all kinds of things to please the progressive parent who reads it. While it's clear the writing is a little immature, it's also clear that Dessen is a GOOD writer, and that comes through loud and clearly. This is a tougher world than the one I grew up in, and there's a lot young adults have to negotiate. I thank Dessen for helping put me back in touch with my inner adolescent, and for giving me new ways to talk to my daughter -- by just listening. It's my turn to be quiet now.
Adult Written bylibrarychic April 9, 2008
Adult Written byfr0stedshad0w April 9, 2008
Adult Written bytbs115a April 9, 2008