Friday, April 2, 2010

Just Listen

By Sara Dessen

Annabel Greene seemingly had everything: cool friends, close family, good grades, and a part-time modeling career in town. But it all came crashing down, and Annabel has spent the summer in shaky, self-imposed exile. She finds herself dreading the new school term and facing, well, everyone again. The last thing she wants to do is revisit old friendships while the losses are painful, the secrets behind the rifts are almost unbearable. Her solid family seems fragile, too. What happened to cause the stiff silences and palpable resentments between her two older sisters? Why is no one in her loving but determinedly cheerful family talking about her middle sister's eating disorder? Annabel's devastating secret is revealed in bits and snatches, as readers see her go to amazing lengths to avoid confrontation. Caught between wanting to protect her family and her own struggles to face a devastating experience, Annabel finds comfort in an unlikely friendship with the school's most notorious loner. Owen has his own issues with anger, but has learned to control it and helps her realize the dangers of holding in her emotions. Dessen explores the interior and exterior lives of her characters and shows their flaws, humanity, struggles, and incremental successes.

Soooo....ahem. This book was, well, how do I put this? I felt yucky after I read it. Beware of too much detail (yes there is such a thing). The main character, Annabel, gets raped. I don't think an author has to go into much detail when that happens, and I admit I skipped a page or two. While being powerfully told, I just couldn't relate. I have never been to beer parties, never been part of a clique, and the list goes on. If this is what the average teen goes through...holy cow. That's all I'm saying. There was lots of profanity, and lots of evilness going on. I know Sara Dessen is really popular and has a huge following, but I for one can almost with certainty say I will never read another of her books again. I wanted to go take a long shower after I read it just to get the goosebumps to go away. (And these were not good goosebumps.) I however, will state once again, that I am highly sensitive to profanity and sex-related material; so read at your own discretion.

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