Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything"—at least that's the part she played in the TV add for Kopf's Department Store. This year, she's the girl who has nothing she has no best friend because the mean-but-exciting Sophie ditched her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong. Tall, dark and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to telling the truth. With Owen's help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.
Just Listen- Sarah Dessen
"Don't think, don't judge, just listen"
Honestly I can't pick whether I love Lock and Key or Just Listen more. They are both amazing in different ways.
I love the way Just Listen seems to just sit with me perfectly. I love the way Owen surprises you and the way his little sister obsess over Annabel is really fun. I love that it deals with eating disorders, it's putting awareness for such a horrible issue out there where teenagers can read about it in a less intimidating way. I love the CD's and I love the way Annabel grows throughout the novel. My favorite part (if you've read it) is when Annabel and Owen are in the radio station and Owen is mad at Annabel but Annabel had an epiphany the night before when she played the 10th CD and it was just static. But it was just a misunderstanding. I love that bit. It's a book really close to my heart, it just seems to speak to me. (I sound really conceited, forgive me. I hope you won't be in too much pain by the end of this post.)
Whereas Lock and Key I can't really put a finger on what it is that makes it special. It all just seems to fit and meld together in the most amazing way. The way Sarah tells the story makes it magical and it just seems to have a really great natural flow. Although the plot may not be all that amazing, you just get lost in Ruby's story. I felt a different connection with Lock and key to Just Listen, it struck me in a less personal place but I still had a really powerful connection with it. I love Ruby and Cora's relationship, how it grows when they both get to know each other again and once secrets are revealed. I love Nate's character, the key she wears, the pond; just pretty much all the little details are what seem to put the book together.
What happens when your past is not just past, but wiped clean entirely? How do you figure out where you're going when you can't even claim where you've been? These were the questions that inspired Lock and Key. It's the story of a girl named Ruby who is abandoned by her mother and determined to make it on her own, even---and especially---when she is sent to live with her long-lost sister in a whole new world of privilege, family, and relationships. As Ruby learns, there's a big difference between being given help and being able to accept it. And sometimes, it takes reaching out to someone else to save yourself.
Lock and Key- Sarah Dessen
In Sarah's Words
"People are always interested to learn where a story comes from, and I’m often asked where I get the ideas for my books. The truth is, sometimes I don’t even know: rather than just one big moment, it’s often a lot of little random thoughts, scribbled notes on scraps of paper and backs of receipts, that make up a novel. Other times, though, you can trace a story’s beginning back to a specific moment. That’s what happened with Just Listen.
It was the fall of 2004, and I was about to start a new book. I had a couple of ideas kicking around in my head, some things I knew I wanted to do, but nothing concrete just yet. One day, I was sitting in the lobby of a private school, waiting to do a talk, when I saw a yearbook on the table beside me. I picked it open and started to flip through it, looking at the sports shots, different classes, and finally the senior pages, which were filled with personal photos from each of the graduates. One in particular jumped out at me. It was a shot of three beautiful girls, obviously sisters, all blonde, posing together by a pool, and even at first glance all I could think was that they looked like the kind of girls who had everything. A great family, fabulous social life, palpable confidence, all the stuff I wished I had in high school, and beyond. Then someone called my name: it was time to give my talk. So I shut the book, and left it behind.
Later though, when I was driving home, I kept thinking about that picture, and how quickly I’d made assumptions about it. After all, nobody’s life is perfect, and you can’t tell anything from just one shot, one day. I started to wonder what it would be like to be one of those girls, with everyone so quick to judge, and just how wrong they might be. And just like that, Annabel’s story, which had been hovering in my head in bits and pieces, began to come together.
It is always my intention to write a simple, streamlined novel, short and sweet. But that never happens. Instead, I begin with one idea, which morphs into another, and then another, like a picture that grows past its frame to show everything else that’s happening you can’t see at first. So like The Truth About Forever, my last book, Just Listen has a lot going on. There’s modeling, music, family dynamics, and even bacon. It also brings back a few people those of you who have read my other books might recognize, and I hope will be happy to see again.
No writing process is ever easy, and this book took a lot out of me. Looking back, I think that like Annabel, I had a hard story to tell, and sometimes it was tough to work up to getting it out. I kept going back, rewriting, not trusting that I was doing it justice. It was only once it was finished that I was able to see that all along, I should have been taking my own advice. Not over thinking, backtracking, or obsessing, but instead simply letting Annabel have her say. I just needed to listen. I hope you will, too."