Just Listen

Just Listen - Sarah Dessen (Full review can be found on my blog, Paper Riot)To be honest, I had never heard of Sarah Dessen before I started this blog. But since I have been blogging, I've been hearing nothing but wonderful things about her books. Apparently everyone had read and loved them but me. (And Cassie.) So when I came across two of her books in my library, I had to take them with me to see for myself. And because I never say no to a swoony romance. I know that this book has been released ages ago (2006!) but I still wanted to let you know what I thought, since Sarah Dessen seems to be such a phenonemon and I just want to talk to you about it.The first thing I thought when I was finished was: well, fourteen-year-old me would have LOVED this book. Because when I was fourteen, I went through a phase where I only read contemporary romances where girls looked stunning and fought with their friends and met cute boys that changed everything. Girls who were models and movie stars and lived in huge houses and had everything they ever wanted. Yes, I was that superficial, and no, this book was definitely not that superficial. But it did remind me a lot of the books I read back then and I think I would have appreciated it more if I read it back then, too. Because though I really enjoyed reading it, it was also a bit disappointing compared to what I was expecting.My disappointment had nothing to do with the writing, or the characters, or the plot even. Dessen's writing has a steady pacing and changes from present to past at perfect times. The characters were likeable, and though a bit flat at first, they all grew on me and became more understandable throughout the story. I loved how the story progressed and how Dessen built up to the big revelation. Some of the aspects that I really enjoyed in this book were Annabel's relationship with her sisters, and especially how Kirsten and Whitney's rocky relationship developed. I grew to appreciate Annabel as a character when I learned what happened to her and how well this fit her thoughts and actions. And I loved how Owen helped Annabel become more open and stand up for herself.It was a good story. And fourteen-year-old Judith would have read it about 5,000 times. But... I've read many books since I was fourteen, and this book fell flat compared to many of them. I couldn't help but think "Well, this is nothing I haven't read before." Don't let my review keep you from reading this book (if you haven't already). It was an enjoyable read and a solid story, when I compared it to for example My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, My Life Next Door got to me more than Just Listen did.I will definitely continue reading Dessen's books, if only because they're the type of books I adore when I'm in a reading slump or in the need for a swoon-worthy story. I trust that her writing is consistent and her books won't disappoint. I just wish I read this one five or six years ago.