Just Listen

Just Listen
y Sarah Dessen

Publishing Information: Viking Children's Books: New York, 2006
ISBN: 9780670061051
Pages: 389 p.
Ages: 13 & Up

Isolated from friends who believe the worst because she has not been truthful with them, sixteen-year-old Annabel finds an ally in classmate Owen, whose honesty and passion for music help her to face and share what really happened at the end-of-the-year party that changed her life.

Book Talk:
You know that girl, the one who seems to have everything? Did you ever wonder if it was really true? Everyone has problems, and sixteen year old Annabel, a model, is no exception. Why has Annabel become isolated from her friends? 

Can two people from different high school cliques find love?  Why or why not?

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself having to eat alone at lunch because all of your friends stopped speaking to you? This is how formally-popular sixteen-year-old Annabel Greene begins her junior year. The question is: what changed? Could an unlikely friendship with another isolated teen be just what she needs?

Subject Headings & Major Themes:

Anorexia Nervosa
Attempted rape
Interpersonal relations
Social Isolation

Awards & Reviews:
Booklist, March 15, 2006, p. 61
Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2006
Publishers Weekly, March 13, 2006, p. 67
School Library Journal, May 1, 2006, p. 122

Discussion Questions and Ideas:

  1. Why is Annabel unable to talk about what has happened to her?
  2. Why does Annabel find it so difficult to be honest about her feelings in general?
  3. How have her own actions caused her to be in the miserable situation in which she finds herself?
  4. nnabel’s mother has been fragile and depressed since the death of her own mother. How does her emotional absence contribute to her daughters’ problems?
  5. ow does Annabel’s unlikely friendship with Owen help her?  What does this friendship tell us about opening up to new types of friendship?
  6. hat did you learn about dealing with a loved one with an eating disorder? 

Related Websites:
Author’s website: www.sarahdessen.com

National organization for Anorexia and other eating disorders:  http://www.anad.org/  

Tips on date rape prevention: http://womenshealth.org/a/avoiding_rape.htm

Big Mouth and Ugly Girl by Joyce Carol Oates, 2002
Crushed by Laura McNeal & Tom McNeal, 2006
Jailbait by Leslea Newman, 2005
The New Rules of High School by Blake Nelson, 2003
Ordinary Ghosts by Eireann Corrigan, 2007
Pants on Fire by Meg Cabot, 2007
Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos, 2006
Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, 1999 (2001 RITBA Nominee)
Twisted by Laurie Halse Anderson, 2007
Wonder When You’ll Miss Me by Amanda Davis, 2003

Other Books by the Author:
That Summer, 1996
Someone Like You, 1998
Keeping the Moon, 1999
Dreamland, 2000 (2001 RITBA Nominee)
This Lullaby, 2002
The Truth About Forever, 2004
Lock and Key, 2008

About the Author:
Sarah Dessen grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, graduating with highest honors in Creative Writing. She is the author of several novels, including Someone Like You and Just Listen . A motion picture based on her first two books, entitled How to Deal, was released in 2003. Her eighth book, Lock and Key, will be published in April 2008. She lives in North Carolina.