Saturday, June 27, 2009

Just Listen (2006)

Shades of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, this drama by Sarah Dessen gives us a heroine who also was a rape victim and keeps it in and suffers the barbs and shuns of her classmates. She does this for several reasons, one of which is maintaining her image for her career as a model.

Annabel has two sisters who are models. Kirsten is working and attending college in New York. Whitney also works in New York and lives with her but comes home when her eating disorder becomes too much for Kirsten. This family problem is another reason Annabel keeps her rape to herself.

"Sophie was still standing in front of me. It was quiet all around us. I knew I could have broken the silence, could have spoken up. It was only my word against his, and now hers. But I didn't."

It wasn't until the rapist acted again, against one of Annabel's ex-friends, that a pattern emerges and a champion steps forward to prosecute him and gives Annabel a chance to voice her secret.

"[Emily's] voice was barely a hush as she said, 'I know you've heard what happened. What Will did to me."

"I could feel it, a visceral reaction to what had just happened, her coming closer than anyone to the truth. My truth. And just like that, I could feel something rising up inside me. I looked around, wondering where on earth I could get sick quietly and discreetly. But then something else happened: I started to cry."

Of all the people who could have reached and helped Annabel, salvation came from Owen, a boy deeply interested in music and a veteran of an Anger Management program. Using techniques he learned in the program, he leads her to a point where she can finally share what happened to her in a venue that did her the most good and the rapist the worst; his trial.

Sarah Dessen is my daughter's favorite author and she recommended this book as the one I should read. One of the aspects of this book that I appreciated was that Annabel is a beautiful, popular girl which shows readers that rape can happen to anyone. The fear, shame, and loss of self-respect can be devastating and should never be suffered alone. This book shows girls that if they find themselves in a position similar to Annabel's, they should find someone to talk to.

This is a fast-reading book that all girls should read.

My rating for this book: ++++

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