Thumbs up for Just Listen by Sarah Dessen. Young adult.
Since I was homeschooled, the world of high school girls is more alien to me than outer space. But I recommend these books all the time, so it seemed like I should read one; and I’m glad I did. This was an excellent, excellent book. It is a Novel, in the classic way: a book about people trying to live with themselves and each other. And you feel like you know these people (even, my God, the Parents); no one is a walking cliché, even Annabel’s love interest Owen, whom I genuinely liked, and who counterpointed Annabel’s own internal struggles flawlessly. It is also one of the best constructed books I’ve ever read; every part mirrors another part – most obviously, Owen’s honesty vs Annabel’s “nice” conflict-averseness – and everything fits together like a little puzzle. Yeah, so it’s calculated, but it’s so well done it’s a bit like listening to a Bach fugue. (And there, in the matter of music, lies my sole complaint: the author doesn’t know what techno music sounds like, and didn’t bother to find out. Ugh.)
To Owen, “a few” CDs meant ten, by my count. Looking at the top few, I saw that each had a title – TRUE HIP HOP, CHANTS AND SHANTIES (VARIOUS), TOLERABLE JAZZ, ACTUAL SINGERS ACTUALLY SINGING – with the tracks listed beneath in neat block print. It occurred to me that they were probably the result of a pointed discussion about stoner rock we’d had the day before, when Owen decided that maybe my knowledge of music was so “stunted and wanting” (his words) due to a lack of exposure. So here was his remedy: a personal primer, divided into chapters.
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