Garnering five ALA Best Book for Young Adult honors with her first five novels, Sara Dessen delivers the bittersweet story of a dissatisfied model and the offbeat guy who teaches her that only truth can set her free. As her beautiful, self-assured image flashes across the TV screen, Annabel Greene is the ideal 17-year-old girl. But the glitter of her commercials is a far cry from Annabel is a social outcast. Can music-obsessed Owen with his commitment to truth convince Annabel to reveal a dark secret and bravely confront reality?More
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Just TRY to Listen and maybe that will help.
The story has a good premise, and until now, an awesome reader. But the story is S L O W.... And please be aware that it is written for very "YA." Very clean without hard language. But the characters are very immature, simply "textbook" high school adolescents, more moody and dissatified than how I remember that time of life. (SMALL SPOILER>>>) The author finally gets around to her tense subject of sexuality, after 12 or 15 chapters with a rape scene. Not to make light of that in any way whatsoever, I just found it an awkward and forced part of the book. The characters, especially the main Annabelle and her "BFF" Sophie, were unlikeable and shallow. Annabelle cannot stand up to her mom to tell her she hates modeling, and cannot confront one of her two sisters (don't want to give it away) about that sister's potential life threatening mental disease: anorexia. To continue her spiral, she loses her real best friend and just keeps faking it through day by day. Until Owen. Thank god for Owen. He managed to save the story from a final pressing of the STOP/FINISH button with his interesting and sometimes humorous realistic character. But Ms Ikeda butchered his voice unfortunately. A radio host just cannot be that juvenile and nasally and keep his job.If Dessen could have drawn the reader into Annabelle, especially since it is written in first person, perhaps the story would have been more poignant and enjoyable.
I didn't expect a deep novel or enthralling story, or a complex plot. The story is just a downer, following a tedious storyline with so many coming of age angsts that I could not relate to. It felt long and drawn out, touching on so many problems with all of the various characters, that the listener is fatigued and ready for it to end.
I believe this was an early performance. I checked the date and this appears to be a very early book for her (2006 or 08), so I gave her 3 stars instead of two. Almost every other book performed by Ikeda are highly deserving of 5 starts. The only reason I bought Just Listen was due to the reader, Jennifer Ikeda. Ms. Ikeda is phenomenal in most of her other books, Discovery of Witches trilogy for example. In this story, however, her male characters were flat, childish and nasally. She differentiates between many of the female characters fairly well, but not her best accomplisment.
The book could have been written without the third sister. She plays mainly meaningless parts and only adds slightly to the development of the interpersonal effects of anorexia on the family. The scenes about Owen's music taste are far too long and drawn out. Other areas are verbose and could be condensed or eliminated.
Please do not avoid Jennifer Ikeda's other performances, as she has grown immensely since this book and is one of the top 2 or 3 readers in the Audible library.