Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Review of Lock and Key

"Ruby, where is your mother?" 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?
[from Goodreads]
Rating:  4 out of 5 boxes
Target Audience:  Teens, clean romance readers
High point:  Ruby's brother-in-law
Low point:  Ruby's old friends
Reader maturity: 13+

Lock and Key wasn't the mind-blowing experience that The Truth About Forever was, but it was emotional and poignant just the same, perhaps even more so. I didn't connect with Ruby the same way I did with the main character from The Truth About Forever, but Ruby is still a strong, 3-dimensional powerhouse.

Lock and Key was painful. It was hard to read about so much heartbreak, but that's the beautiful thing about Sarah Dessen's novels--there's a happy, or at least happier, ending in sight. On the back of the book, the ending of the synopsis says this:
Sometimes, in order to save yourself, you've got to reach out to someone else.
That sums up Lock and Key perfectly. Ruby is withdrawn and unattached, and she likes it that way...or so she thinks. Gradually though, she lets her defenses down and finds out that even though that means getting hurt, getting hurt is better than not feeling anything at all.

Ruby's relationship with her older sister, Cora, was picture perfect (I assume, as someone who has no sisters). Cora is angry and withdrawn herself but tries so hard to give Ruby the life she was never able to have. Cora's husband is the heart of this novel--the patient, kind, understanding Jamie. He provides the stability and protection that Ruby never received from anyone else. Without him, there would be no novel and no happy ending. Ruby and her distant-but-patient love interest hit a lot of bumps on the road, but in the end, it's a typical Sarah Dessen ending--predictable but appreciated all the same.

As usual, Lock and Key is well-written and appeals to teens and adults of many different ages and backgrounds. It's not groundbreaking, but it isn't supposed to be.

Title:  Lock and Key
Author:  Sarah Dessen
Genre:  Teen Fiction - Girls & Young Women
Year:   2008
Book Source:  Purchased


  1. You know, I read Dreamland from Dessen, and I was not in love - but this one sounds VERY good...think maybe I need to give her a 2nd chance! Wonderful review.

  2. I haven't read anything by this author yet... what a shame. I'd love to check this book out, though. Great review!

  3. When I read this one a few years ago I enjoyed it immensely but like you said, it just lacked something for me. Looking back however, I've come to appreciate it a lot more. I loved how it was emphasized on family and friendship. I also liked how romance was involved but it wasn't a major focal point and so on. :)

  4. I read this one awhile ago, but I remember really liking it.

  5. My review pretty much says the exact same thing! (I'll post it tomorrow.) I enjoyed TTAF more, too, but I still enjoyed this book a lot. Especially Jamie. He's wonderful. :D