Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Book Synopsis:
Ruby can take care of herself. She's used to counting on no one and answering to nobody. But all of that changes when her mother vanishes and Ruby is sent to live with her older siser, Cora. Now Ruby's got her own room in a fabulous new house, she's going to private school, and—for the first time—feeling as if she has a future. Plus, there's the adorable and sweet boy next door, Nate. Everything should be perfect. So why is Ruby so wary? And why is Nate keeping her at a distance? Ruby soon comes to realize that sometimes, in order to save yourself, you've got to reach out to someone else.

My review:
Sarah Dessen is a talented author. The more books of hers I read, the more I find myself enjoying her writing style. Lock and Key is another reason why Ms. Dessen is a popular author.

Ruby is a young girl who has to grow up fast. Her dad left the family when she was young and now it's just Ruby and her mother. When her mother abandons Ruby, she didn't think anything was wrong. Her mother is known for leaving for days at a time and returns as though she never left. But her latest absence is different. Ruby is discovered living alone and is sent to live with her sister Cora and brother-in-law Jamie.

Lock and Key is about the influence relationships have on us. Ruby's dysfunctional relationship with her mother caused her to have an inability to accept others' help. She's very self-sufficient and questions others' motives for wanting to assist her. When she first moves in with her estranged sister, Ruby immediately plans her exit. She's guarded with Cora and Jamie believes she will never fit into their world.

As she begins her new school, she meets Olivia and Nate. Olivia is also a former student at her previous school, although the two never talked while there, and appears to be aloof. As the story unfolds, Olivia and Ruby form a friendship and realize they have a lot in common.

I enjoyed reading Ruby's friendship with Nate. Although I immediately guessed his secret, it didn't take away from the depth of their relationship. Ruby sees a lot of herself in Nate. When he begs her not to disclose his secret, she struggles with what to do. She's knows what it is like to pretend everything is fine. But for the first time, she realizes that these false pretenses will have severe consequences if the truth is not told upfront.

Through her relationship with Jamie, Ruby discovers herself. He encourages her to move out of her comfort zone which leads to Ruby feeling more confident. Their relationship is the catalyst for her to rebuild her relationship with Cora.

Lock and Key is a good read. I'm looking forward to reading more of Ms. Dessen's novels.

Favorite quotes:
"Cora was behind me, still talking. Through my tears, I could hear her saying it was all going to be okay, and I knew she believed this. But I was sure of something, too: it's a lot easier to be lost than found. It's the reason we're always searching, and rarely discovered—so many locks, not enough keys." (p. 365)

"Behind me, Cora was calling again. My family was waiting. Looking down at the pond, all I could think was that it is an incredible thing, how a whole world can rise from what seems like nothing at all." (p.422)
Book details:
ISBN-13: 978-0-14-241472-9
Pages: 422
Year Published: 2008
Genre: YA Fiction
Date Finished: August 16
Rating: B+


  1. I keep meaning to read more Dessen. I've read Dreamland, but I'm not sure where to go from there.

  2. Hi Charley-

    I also recommend Just Listen. It's an excellent read. I've read great reviews about The Truth About Forever, but haven't read it yet.

  3. I have yet to read a book by Sarah, but I've a few of her books in my pile. I can't wait to dive into her books! Have you read Just Listen? I heard that one is great!!

  4. This book made me cry - LOVED it! Great review.