By Sarah Dessen
Annabel Green gets to play a teen that has everything as a model on a commercial for Kopf’s Department Store-top student, popular, cheerleader. What few people realize, including her own family, is that she’s just the opposite. Her friends shun her at school, her sister suffers from a serious eating disorder, and she doesn’t really find joy in doing her modeling anymore. In fact she feels like she’s only doing it to keep her mother happy.
On top of that she’s holds a shameful secret that ties her up inside and haunts everything she does. Then, when she feels like she’ll always sit alone during lunch, she finds herself connecting to Owen, another recluse. All she knows of Owen is that he’s always got earphones in and that he got in trouble for hitting another kid pretty hard.
Now she finds herself drawn to him and discovers an attraction to his odd ways and strange music. But will she ever be able to speak to her other friends again and what will happen to Whitney, her sister who was hospitalized for a serious eating disorder? As Annabel tries to do her part to keep her family together, she runs into all kinds of difficulties and obstacles along the way.
(Booktalk by Rosalie Olds, King County Library System)
By Sarah Dessen
Just listen. That is what we usually say to someone when we want their full attention about something we have to say. Just listen.
But, what if what you have to say is so awful you cannot bring yourself to say it? So awful that you choose to lose all your friends and live in utter isolation rather than say it?
Annabel has made that choice. What happened at that end of the school year party is not what her best friend Sophie claims. Annabel did not go after Sophie's boyfriend Will. Sophie doesn't want to listen to what really happened. Who would believe Annabel if she told them what really happened?
Just listen. Annabel's supposed to be the girl who 'has it all'- the theme of her recent modeling shoot. But, she cannot even listen to the voices in her head that haunt her, demanding resolution.
Until Owen. Owen, school loner, helps Annabel face her resolute inability to tell the truth if it hurts. He helps her to really see what is going on in her family of non-communicators. When Annabel listens to the CD Owen mixes for her titled “Just Listen”, she finally hears her own voice and knows what she has to do.
Read this amazing book about friendship, families, and truth – and don't be surprised if you start listening....
(Booktalk by Kathy Caldwell, Bainbridge Island Middle School)
Last Updated: May 14, 2008