Every now and then I agree to read a friends "must read" book. I am generally disappointed, but every now and them I am surprised and delighted.
Just Listen was one of those delightful surprises even though I am not a big fan of "coming of age" novels.
Annabel Greene lives in a glass house. She knows that what you see is very often different than what is real. Her life is full of examples:
- She has a loving family and good grades but she is miserable
- Modeling is not glamorous and fun and she really wants to quit
- Her beautiful model sister has an eating disorder
- Her perfect Mom has suffered from crippling depression off and on over the years
- Her former best friend is convinced that Annabel slept with her boyfriend even when she didn't
- Owen, the angry loner with whom she shares lunch hour is a sensitive, caring guy who uses his music to cope
She copes by carrying on. She goes to school, she studies, she does her modeling jobs and tries to cope with her sister's illness.
In her isolation she begins to eat lunch at a table with the other loners and a friendship develops between Owen and her.
Her friendship with Owen and his world view begins to change her view of the world and her place in it. He teaches her about being honest and finding your own voice. He teachers her about managing her anger. He teaches her to appreciate the sound of music, and the blaring loudness of silence.
In the end, Annabel Greene finds her voice and takes charge of her life.
The characters are fully drawn and finely nuanced. The story captures the frustration and pain of being almost an adult while carrying a full load of adult secrets. I wish they had written books like this when I was a teenage!
Here is the publisher's synopsis:
When Annabel, the youngest of three beautiful sisters, has a bitter falling out with her best friend, the popular and exciting Sophie, she suddenly finds herself isolated and friendless. but then she meets Owen, a loner, passionate about music and his weekly radio show, and always determined to tell the truth. And when they develop a friendship, Annabel is not only introduced to new music but is encouraged to listen to her own inner voice. with Owen's help, can Annabel find the courage to speak out about what exactly happened the night her friendship with Sophie came to a screeching halt?