Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Published Viking 2008
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: Kindle ebook
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?
Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.
Okay, so for some reason, everytime I start a Sarah Dessen book I always get worried that it is going to be an overdone version of one of her books that I have already read, cut from the exact same cookie cutter. But, I have never actually had that problem, so I really need to stop doing that!
This is probably the most unique of all of Dessen’s books that I have read so far. Ruby’s mother is abusive and so terrible to read about. I hated her family situation, yet I was also able to understand all the conflicting feelings that Ruby was feeling about her mother and what happened to her. Ruby finally ends up moving in with her older sister who she has not seen in a long time and this creates some new problems as the dynamic in her home life shifts yet again. I really liked this interesting plot line and how Ruby carried herself, even amongst all of these other problems. She is a very strong character, and while I didn’t agree with everything she did, I understood all of it from her perspective. I also found Ruby to be the most gritty and realistic of all of Dessen’s characters. She has a lot of issues to deal with, and there is a scene when she turns to drinking with some old friends to get rid of the pain. I liked how that was included and it made her different from all the other typical Dessen leads so far.
Of course, all of the other characters were all so precious. There was not a single one that I did not fall in love with, like normal. I really liked the love interest, Nate. He suited Ruby really well and helped her without being her savior. It was really sweet to see their relationship develop throughout the book, as well as Ruby’s other friendships. The other people she meets during the short time she has at her new high school are really great in continuing her journey and added another great level to the story. I also appreciated how Nate’s ex-girlfriend was not made out to be evil or manipulative or so many of the other things that they typically get labeled with. Ruby is actually friends with her and has multiple very intriguing moments with her.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book! It was different enough from all the Sarah Dessen novels to show me how much I LOVE her books, but it also had that same magic and hopefulness that come from all of her work. After finishing a Sarah Dessen book, I always want to escape right back into that world with the characters and stay there forever. I have no idea how she does it – but she’s truly the queen of contemporary (and I read A LOT of contemporary). This might be my favorite Dessen (of course, that’s always a hard question…)
What’s your favorite Sarah Dessen book? And if you haven’t read any, this one is a great place to start!