Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Posted March 14, 2015 in Book Review / 0 Comments

Lock and Key by Sarah DessenLock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Published by Viking's Children's Books on April 22nd 2008
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult
Pages: 422
Format: Hardcover
Source: Borrowed
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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?

Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.

Main points

This book  was all right. This was my first Sarah Dessen book and she’s pretty hyped so I was expecting a lot, but I was told that this wasn’t the best book of hers so I wasn’t expecting too much, which is a good thing. I wasn’t blown away by this. In fact, it was just all right.

The first thing is that it’s long. It doesn’t seem long at all when you’re reading it, but when you get near the end and look back it’s surprising how long it’s taken for some things to happen. And at the end, it seems like we wrapped up a bit too quickly, like suddenly we got tired of getting nowhere and just decided to end it once and for all. Some- most- parts were good, but some were less than satisfactory.

One of the better aspects of the book was all the little lessons that were learned along the way. Like about family, trust, relationships, etc. It was all presented from a perspective that made it believable and genuine. There was a lot of exploration in these topics and for that I liked the book.

And that’s truly what it was about, I think. Especially family. So much changes and happens, and it happens slowly, but it ends well. It’s really about Ruby’s personal growth and journey, but the things she learns could apply to most people. I won’t say everyone, but a lot of people. And it wasn’t just what she learned. Everyone learned something. And I liked Ruby’s relationship with her sister. It morphed into what it should be.

I will also say that the length of the book allowed me to get really immersed in the story. I feel like I knew the characters really well, and since it was a character-driven story that was really important. Everyone was 3D and had positives and flaws. They were all real characters and all important.

Another disappointment was Ruby’s and Nate’s relationship. I did like the realness of how it started out- no immediate crushes, no rushing into anything- in fact, it took a while for them to even get comfortable around each other and then a while more for them to be true friends. This felt more realistic to me. But at the same time, they were missing something, and I didn’t realize it until I was almost done with the book. There really was no happiness there. There was always a strain on their relationship, and I felt like they were together because they both had a ‘checkered past’ and could understand each other at least for that, and needed each other because they understood. But it wasn’t a particularly happy relationship, while it was an affectionate one. And this was primarily due to Nate’s big issue #1, which I won’t go into (but I’m finding is a theme in a LOT of realistic YA fiction, or at least what I happen to be picking up lately). But frankly that made it depressing. And it was probably supposed to. I mean, when we cover these serious issues we don’t want to sugarcoat anything, right? Nothing about Ruby’s situation was sugarcoated, that’s for sure. But still, it prevented me from being able to fully get behind the idea of their relationship. Everyone else’s relationships were fine, at least what we saw (which wasn’t much and that may have been it). But I also feel like there wasn’t much to Ruby’s and Nate’s. Like I said, it was probably more of a convenience thing. And that was disappointing to me. But there’s no doubt that they’re better with each other than without, even though neither of them show it particularly well (‘it’ being how they missed each other when apart).

So while a lot of this book was somewhat tedious and a little lacking, I liked how the subjects were covered and the lessons were presented (wow that sounds like I’m describing a school curriculum). The characters were great. All in all, I did like it.

But still…


plus and minus

characters, themes, realism                     length, relationship with Nate, plot (just meh)

 reaction upon finishing

Whew, glad that’s finally over.

this book in one word



About Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and attended UNC-Chapel Hill, graduating with highest honors in Creative Writing. She is the author of eleven novels, including Someone Like You, Just Listen and The Moon and More. She lives in North Carolina.

Overall: three-stars


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