Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

Dessen, Sarah
JUST LISTEN
New York : Viking, 2006
IL YA
ISBN 0670061050

(5 booktalks)

Click on the book to read Amazon reviews
Booktalk #1

Annabel Greene seems to have it all. However, that is not the case. At school, she is shunned because she's hiding secrets about an end of the year party. At home, family peace hangs in the balance because she's hiding secrets about her sister's anorexia. Her life is changed when she meets Owen Armstrong, the school's loner who is obsessed with music and telling the truth.  (Florida Teen Reads nominee, 2007-2008)

Booktalk #2

Remember those sayings about living in glass houses and beauty is only skin deep and donít judge a book by its cover and . . . 
Our dad designed our house, and the front is all of glass. We always see people slow down and look in as they drive by, watching our perfect family at the dining table. But, all they are seeing is the surface. They donít really know what goes on behind the scenes. 
They donít know about Whitneyís eating disorder, or how stressed out my mom gets when things donít go wrong. Or how both of our parents try to pretend that everything is perfect. They donít know how much it hurt her that both Whitney and talkative Kirsten are both out of the modeling business or that I, Annabel, the youngest, am the only one left for our momís obsession with fashion. 
Nor do they see that I have nothing left ever since the night of the end of year party and what happened between me and Sophie, my supposed best friend, and her boyfriend Will Cash. I have no voice. I canít tell anyone, even though it wasnít my fault. Who would believe me? Sophie? Hah! She always was able to control me. I have NO courage. Now, Iím almost nonexistent. Except for the times that Sophie happens to cross my path, and then itís a one word curse she hurls at me. 
Then, I start sitting at lunch on the same bench as Owen Armstrong. Owen, who always has his ipod along and his earphones on. Owen, who hardly ever speaks. Owen, who is in Anger Management for punching out another kid. Owen, who helps me through one of the roughest times with Sophie. Owen who always tells the truth. Owen, my lifeline.
(Sam Marsh, Colorado Blue Spruce Young Adult Book Award Nominees 2009) 

Booktalk #3

Annabel Green gets to play a teen that has everything as a model on a commercial for Kopfís Department Store-top student, popular, cheerleader.  What few people realize, including her own family, is that sheís just the opposite.  Her friends shun her at school, her sister suffers from a serious eating disorder, and she doesnít really find joy in doing her modeling anymore.  In fact she feels like sheís only doing it to keep her mother happy.

On top of that sheís holds a shameful secret that ties her up inside and haunts everything she does.  Then, when she feels like sheíll always sit alone during lunch, she finds herself connecting to Owen, another recluse.  All she knows of Owen is that heís 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 for the Evergreen YA Book Award, 2009)

Booktalk #4

You know that girl, the one who seems to have everything? Did you ever wonder if it was really true? Everyone has problems, and sixteen year old Annabel, a model, is no exception. Why has Annabel become isolated from her friends? 

Can two people from different high school cliques find love?  Why or why not?

What would you do if you suddenly found yourself having to eat alone at lunch because all of your friends stopped speaking to you? This is how formally-popular sixteen-year-old Annabel Greene begins her junior year. The question is: what changed? Could an unlikely friendship with another isolated teen be just what she needs?  (Rhode Island Teen Book Awards, 2008-09)

Booktalk #5

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen is a very powerful novel involving music, friendship, betrayal, lying, keeping secrets, and having the courage to speak out and tell the truth.

Annabel Greene, the main character in this book, is patient, quiet, and kind-hearted. She has been a commercial model since she was eight years old, following in the footsteps of her two gorgeous older sisters. Annabel has lost everything that seemed important to her. Her best friend, her social life, interests in her family and modeling. She returns to school lost, deserted, and alone. That is until she meets Owen Armstrong. He is scary, tough, and completely unapproachable. Annabel quickly learns that looks can be deceiving and they become great friends.

Just when Annabel tries to get her life back into order something always gets in the way, usually her secret. Throughout the year, she goes through many different things, including modeling auditions, listening to radio shows, debating music with Owen, eating bacon, and going to clubs. At the end Annabel will finally get the chance to tell everyone what she has been keeping bottled up inside of her for almost a year.

In Owenís words, ďdon't think or judge, just listen.Ē truly wraps up the meaning and theme of the book, through the words and lives of Dessenís characters.

I recommend Just Listen to any teenage girl. This book always keeps you wanting to read more and leaves you asking questions or making predictions at the end of each chapter. Just Listen is beautiful from start to finish and will make you want to read more of Dessenís other novels.  (Kaitlyn, K-12 student)

SUBJECTS:     Self-actualization (Psychology) -- Fiction.
                        Interpersonal relations -- Fiction.
                        Models (Persons) -- Fiction.
                        Family problems -- Fiction.
                        High schools -- Fiction.
                        Schools -- Fiction.

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