Fiction - New Adult
276 Pages
Reviewed on 05/10/2024
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Blake Nolan is a broken young woman. She is troubled, and the voices in her head are driving her crazy. At sixteen, her life is spiraling out of control, and the thoughts of her parents always putting the blame on her and repeatedly telling her that if anything were to break them, it would be her are unnerving. Nellie's voice fills her mind in unexpected moments, emphasizing that no one wants her and that she must live independently, making life even more unbearable. Blake seeks refuge in music, which calms her and provides a semblance of balance in her life. But when her favorite artist dies, something snaps inside. Something dies in her — the will to fight. Can this troubled girl find freedom from the thoughts that assail her?

Listen by Marissa Beck is a psychologically grounded novel that examines mental health problems in a young woman’s journey toward healing. I was instantly pulled in by the strong narrative voice, ingeniously executed in the first person to mirror Blake’s inner world and point of view. While the narrative is filled with pathos, the voice has a quirkiness that balances the protagonist's struggles. The descriptions are terrific. The emotionally engaging moments and the integration of music — with excellent taste in music — reflect the author’s creativity. The moment of triumph comes when Blake decides to seek help. Marissa Beck has created a protagonist to root for, a genuinely flawed character who is broken and who carries a piece of our mental troubles with her. She is memorable, wholly accomplished, and intriguing. The writing is lyrical and reads like music. This is a gorgeous creation, brilliantly plotted and executed to perfection.

Divine Zape

Listen by Marissa Beck is a powerful journey through the labyrinth of mental health issues, where music, once a sanctuary, reminds the protagonist of inner turmoil. Blake Nolan, the resilient yet fractured heroine, struggles with the aftermath of her favorite artist's demise, a loss that shatters the fragile equilibrium she has painstakingly maintained. As the din in her mind grows louder, Beck takes readers on a rollercoaster ride through Blake's struggles, victories, and moments of raw vulnerability. The compelling scenes from Blake's tumultuous life resonate with authenticity. In one poignant moment, we witness Blake's return to her mother's house, a space filled with memories that both comfort and haunt her. Here, amidst the relics of a fractured family, she confronts the weight of financial strain and emotional detachment, her inner demons echoing off the walls like a haunting melody.

Throughout the story, music emerges as both a lifeline and a tormentor, mirroring Blake's internal conflict. Memories of a lost loved one linger like a haunting melody. At the same time, the band Linkin Park serves as a bittersweet reminder of past connections and unfulfilled dreams. In these moments, Marissa Beck captures the transformative power of music. Yet, amid the chaos, there are glimmers of hope. Through Blake's journey toward self-awareness and healing, the author explores resilience, vulnerability, and the importance of seeking help. In a poignant scene, Blake musters the courage to seek therapy, a decision fraught with uncertainty yet imbued with the promise of a brighter future. The narrative voice is strong and irresistible, and the introspection draws the reader into Blake’s world. As Blake confronts her inner demons and embraces her existence's messy, beautiful complexity, readers are invited to accompany her on a journey of self-discovery and redemption. With each turn of the page, the author reminds us that while the path to healing may have obstacles, it is also illuminated by moments of grace and connection. Listen is the work of creative genius, a story that young adults will adore.

K.C. Finn

Listen is a work of fiction in the interpersonal drama, emotive writing, and slice-of-life genres. It is intended for the new adult reading audience and contains potentially dark and upsetting themes regarding mental health issues and suicide. Penned by author Marissa Beck, this emotionally charged plot follows protagonist Blake Nolan, who relies on music to cope with her mental health struggles. However, after her favorite artist's death, music no longer brings her solace, exacerbating her inner turmoil. As she grapples with worsening mental health and the torment of voices in her head, Blake embarks on a challenging journey towards healing, desperate to find something that can ease her pain.

Author Marissa Beck has crafted a deeply affecting novel that sheds light on the complexities of mental health and the power of music as both a coping mechanism and a source of distress. This is a complex work that has been clearly thought out and delivered with sensitivity and intelligence, and the portrayal of Blake's inner struggles was raw and poignant. The subject matter is dealt with respectfully as it balances entertainment with compassion and education, capturing the devastating impact of mental illness on everyday life. Blake's journey toward acceptance and healing was fraught with obstacles and setbacks, yet her resilience and determination resonated throughout the narrative and carried a message that many readers will find both touching and inspiring. Beck's prose is emotive and evocative as well as being confidently delivered, drawing readers into Blake's world, eliciting empathy for her pain, and letting the reader know that they’re always in safe hands with this author, no matter how dark the world gets. Overall, Listen is a highly recommended work of poignant emotional drama that offers realistic hope amidst the darkness.