Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Mini Reviews: A Sarah Dessen Explosion

I finally got to reading not just one Sarah Dessen book... But 3!!  I feel so accomplished :)  I kind of just went from one Sarah Dessen book to the next Sarah Dessen book that I had at my disposal, so, I didn't really have time to process like how I felt about them really in depth, so here goes some mini reviews!

Just Listen
Title: Just Listen
Date Released: April 6th, 2006
Pages: 384
Rating: 3 out of 5

Last year, Annabel was "the girl who has everything"—at least that's the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf's Department Store.This year, she's the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped 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 truth-telling. With Owen's help,maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends.

Just Listen is my first ever Sarah Dessen book, and it was quite good.  Sometimes, it could really drag on, especially during the flashbacks.  I wasn't a big fan of the flashbacks.  However, I love the issues that Sarah Dessen brings into the novel, such as the issue of eating disorders, and trying to create a facade that isn't real.  I thought that Just Listen would be more of a romance novel, but it dealt more with the issues.  Romance was more of a secondary part of the novel.  However, Annabel and Owen's relationship was important because they both helped each other, but Owen helped Annabel much more.  Annabel's relationship with Owen helped her speak up for herself, instead of keeping secrets and bottling things up.  Overall, it was a pretty good book and I really enjoyed it!  I'm totally glad that this was my first Sarah Dessen book :)

Title: Lock and Key
Date Released: April 22nd, 2008
Pages: 422
Rating: 4 out of 5

"Ruby, where is your mother?"

Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she's been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.That's how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn't seen in ten years, and Cora's husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future—it's a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?

Lock and Key was really good.  This time, Sarah Dessen brings in the topics of abuse and abandonment.  I liked how you get to see Ruby develop into a different person throughout the course of the novel, from someone who didn't care about anything, to someone who actually cares about her future and everything.  It must have been kind of weird though to get thrown into a totally different world, though.  A character that I absolutely loved was Jamie.  He was like the coolest brother-in-law you could possibly have.  He was so upbeat and tried to give Ruby all that he could, and remained optimistic throughout most of the novel.  I really liked Ruby's sister, Cora, too.  She seemed sort of distant and cold at first, but she started to warm up after a short while.  Nate was like Jamie in a way.  He was all optimistic and charming, despite what he's going through at home.  One thing that I didn't like about Lock and Key was the ending.  It was really sweet and nice, but seemed really rushed and abrupt.  And where did Nate go?  He just sort of disappeared in the ending.  He was mentioned, but not, well... physically there.  Which was a little disappointing because I really liked Nate!  Other than that, I really liked Lock and Key more than Just Listen, and it was a really great book.

Title: What Happened to Goodbye
Date Released: May 10th, 2011
Pages: 402
Rating: 4 out of 5

Who is the real McLean?

Since her parents' bitter divorce, McLean and her dad, a restaurant consultant, have been on the move-four towns in two years. Estranged from her mother and her mother's new family, McLean has followed her dad in leaving the unhappy past behind. And each new place gives her a chance to try out a new persona: from cheerleader to drama diva. But now, for the first time, McLean discovers a desire to stay in one place and just be herself, whoever that is. Perhaps Dave, the guy next door, can help her find out.

Combining Sarah Dessen's trademark graceful writing, great characters, and compelling storytelling, What Happened to Goodbye is irresistible reading.

What Happened to Goodbye was a very compelling (as the description says... you should always listen to the description) and really interesting.  The topic in this one was divorce, and in this story, you saw how it really affected Mclean and strained her relationship with her mom.  It also caused her to be a different person everytime she moved with her dad, who fixes bad restaurants (almost like Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmare), which in turn also caused her to loose who she really was.  Mclean was a very fascinating character and I felt really bad for her because she got caught up in the nasty divorce.  Dessen also seems to have a knack for creating the somewhat ideal boy.  In this case, it's Dave, who is BRILLIANT! and cute :)  It's the two best qualities all rolled into one boy :D  What Happened to Goodbye was really good and kept me hooked throughout. 

Cover Reviews:
I really like the covers because they're really simple and they all have the same theme.  They also have that object that relates to the book.  For Just Listen, it's the iPod; the key on the chain for Lock and Key; and the suitcase for What Happened to Goodbye.

I think that I might be a bit addicted to Sarah Dessen now :)  Thanks to everyone who kept telling me to read a book by her!  I'll have to check out my library for other Sarah Dessen books.  Has anyone read Along for the Ride?  If you did, how was it??

Cleo :)

*Descriptions and covers from goodreads.com
**Just Listen and Lock and Key were borrowed from my sister, and What Happened to Goodbye was borrowed from my school library.


  1. I LOOOOOVE Sarah Dessen. I only started reading her books within the last year, but I got really addicted and read them all within a couple of months. "Just Listen" is my favorite, but The Truth About Forever is a close second. Great mini-reviews!

  2. The main message of this book is that change will happen but you will just have to deal with it and move on sometimes. One of the likes I had of this book was all the description. The author really painted a picture in my head. One thing I disliked about the book was the style of the girl. She was a little weird, so I couldn't relate to her. I believe someone should read this book because it really is a touching book and it can help the reader realize the lives of some people because the book has such a real life plot.


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