Sunday, April 19, 2009

Just Listen, Sarah Dessen

This is my first Sarah Dessen title after hearing a lot about her (initially thanks to my fondness for Mandy Moore- How to Deal was based on a Sarah Dessen book). I really enjoyed this book, I liked reading it, I have nothing to make fun of, it didn't have moments of cringy-ness... but Sarah Dessen is no Laurie Halse Andersen. And that is my problem with Just Listen.

I just couldn't stop myself from thinking about Speak while I read this. Just Listen is different from Speak in many ways but both books share similar themes of isolation, the aftermath of trauma, mean girls, etc but they are handled very differently. It is hard for me to be objective about Just Listen because Speak was such a powerful reading experience for me. Just Listen was entertaining (not an adjective I would use for Speak) but I didn't have that disturbing feeling in my stomach/ the "this is all a little too familiar" feeling that I had when I read Speak. Just Listen is lighter.

Speak is a book I couldn't get out of my head and one that I plan to read again. It is one of my favorite books of my 2009 reading and I can't believe that I hadn't come across it at some point in the last 10 years. Picking up Speak is one of those happy library moments that I ocassionally stumble into. I saw it on a display table and picked it up having absolutely no idea what it was about. The library had stickers all over the back cover blurbs & I didn't google it before reading. So to find such a well crafted book but also one that was so personally meaningful to me in such a random way... I love the library!

I did enjoy Sarah Dessen's writing and plan to read some of her other titles. Just Listen was nowhere near as intense and real feeling as Speak but honestly I don't want to read books that are that upsetting and intense on a daily basis. There's a time and a place for both types of book.

I did really like the character Owen and enjoyed the subplot with his younger sister Mallory. And the traditional gender role-ist in me very much appreciated what Owen did at the end of the book. That felt real. A teenage boy with serious anger management issues would definitely respond that way to someone who hurt his girlfriend.

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