Title: Just Listen
Author: Sarah Dessen
Number of Pages: 400 (paperback)
Advertised Age Level: Ages 14 and up
Age and Grade of Main Character(s): 16 years/Junior
Language: very mild, use of the word slut
Sex: nothing overtly described
Drug/Alcohol Use: drinking at a party
Violence: main character is assaulted and nearly date raped
Social Issues: social ostracism, parental pressure, eating disorder, date rape, dysfunctional family
Suggested Movie Grade: PG-13
Premise: Before junior year, Annabel had it all – an uber-popular best friend, a dazzling social life, a modeling career. Everything seemed perfect for this golden girl. At home, things weren’t so great. Her older sister, Whitney, arrives home severely emaciated due to an eating disorder, her mother keeps pressuring Annabel to continue modeling even though Annabel isn’t sure it’s what she really wants. And Annabel is certain that if she does anything at all to rock the boat – even speak her mind – her mother will slide back into a crippling depression. However, when Annabel is accused of trying to seduce her best friend’s boyfriend at a party before school starts, she finds herself without a single friend. It’s only after she meets fellow outcast Owen, a boy who is rumored to have beat up a teacher, that Annabel begins to learn that she has to be honest with others but most especially with herself, about what she wants and about what really happened that horrible night last summer.
Potential Points of Concern: Annabel’s sister, Whitney, becomes very sick with anorexia nervosa. Her physical emaciation is described.
Annabel is assaulted and nearly date raped at a party.
Annabel’s ex-best friend, Sophie, calls Annabel a slut and accuses her of trying to steal Sophie’s boyfriend.
Annabel experiences severe anxiety and physical distress when she thinks about her attack.
Owen has anger management issues and is in therapy.
Age Appropriateness: 14 +