Review: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Title: Lock & Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Obtained: borrowed from library
Publisher: Viking
Format: hardback
Rating: 4/5
Read for: 2011 Wish I’d Read That Challenge

“Ruby, where is your mother?”
With that question from the social worker, Ruby knows the game is up.
She’s been living alone in the old yellow house, waiting out the months until she turns eighteen and can finally be on her own legally. It certainly wasn’t in her plan to be reunited with Cora, the sister who left ten years before, and brought to live with Cora and her wealthy entrepreneur husband.
Suddenly life is transformed: a luxurious house, private school, new clothes, and even the chance of a future Ruby couldn’t have dreamed of. So why is she wary, unable to be grateful, incapable of letting anyone close. Her old life has been left behind, but where does she fit in this new life? Only Nate, the genial, popular boy next door, seems to understand, perhaps because he’s hiding some secrets of his own. (from dust jacket)

My Thoughts

I’ve never read a Sarah Dessen book before. I see them everywhere I look at books, but I’ve never picked one up, not even to read the back cover. Fortunately, I read the summary for this one and thought it sounded interesting without even seeing the cover. I’m glad I picked this book up. It was touching, and it didn’t come across as cheesy, although it definitely had the potential to do just that.
There was something about Ruby that rubbed me the wrong way, and I’m not sure if I can put my finger on it. Ruby wants to stay in her little yellow house with mildew on her clothes, where half the appliances are broken and where she has to work to pay rent on top of going to school, all because her mother abandons her. Sometimes, I could understand Ruby and her need to stay in her own world–change, especially such a dramatic change, is difficult, and it is compounded by Ruby’s opinion of her sister, Cora. But sometimes, I really didn’t understand why she would rather get black-out drunk above everything else. While she talks a lot about her life with her mom, her life outside her mom, if she had much of one, is a bit more blurry.
Ruby, of course, likes Cora’s husband almost immediately, and I did, too. He’s open and friendly, and I was really glad to see that he had a serious side that went beyond being happy, or serious about business. I was really glad to see that he wasn’t completely one-dimentional.
I had a harder time relating with Nate, probably because I’ve never known anyone in Nate’s situation. It’s a crappy situation, and I love that Ruby wants to help him. I really liked their interactions and that he really seems to like her, despite her need to return to what she knows. I was glad to see that he really wanted to stick by her, and that he was there when she needed him. It really drove home the point that, later in the novel, she wanted him to need her and it hurt her that he didn’t (or, at least, he didn’t want to admit it).
I really liked this book, and I’ll probably be picking up some more books by Sarah Dessen in the future.

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