Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: April 6, 2006
Links: Amazon | Goodreads
Annabel Greene is the girl who has everything. At least, that's what she portrays in her modeling shoots. But Annabel's life is far from perfect. Her friendship with Sophie ended bitterly, and her older sister's eating disorder is weighing down the entire family. Isolated and ostracized at school and at home, Annabel retreats into silent acceptance. Then she meets Owen - intense, music-obsessed, and determined to always tell the truth. And with his guidance, Annabel learns to just listen to herself and gains the courage to speak honestly. But will she be able to tell everyone what really happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends?
I absolutely adore Annabel and Owen. Their characters are so honest and real, and I can't get enough of their conversations and interactions with each other. Their relationship development is so cute and funny and natural. All of the characters in this book are amazingly real. Annabel's parents are simultaneously strong and vulnerable, and the relationship between her mom and dad is one of love and support. Her sisters are also awesome, with their own strengths and weaknesses, and I loved witnessing the relationship dynamic of their entire family. They're a good family. And while they definitely each have their own issues, they support and love each other fiercely. I also really like the interactions between Owen and his little sister, which are funny and adorable.
It is really easy to become engrossed in Annabel's story. The pacing of the plot is leisurely but steady, with flashbacks. The novel begins after a falling-out between Annabel and her best friend, Sophie, the cause of which is unclear at first though it isn't hard to suspect or guess what it might involve. There are flashbacks throughout the narrative in which Annabel remembers or explains things that have happened. If I'm being nit-picky and looking for flaws, my one complaint would be that there were a couple of times when I became confused regarding the timeline of events, probably because there is a good bit of back and forth with the past and present, and occasionally the boundaries between the two aren't always clear right away.
So now I've read my first two Sarah Dessen novels (Just Listen and Along for the Ride), the only two that I have in my bookshelves. But I really like them, so tell me what your favorite Sarah Dessen books are, and which one(s) I should pick up next, because I am loving her characters and can't stop after just two!