Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin USA
Number of pages: 432
My copy: paperback, bought from Fully Booked
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 sister, 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 an 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.
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Don’t you think that’s such a pretty cover? There’s really something about Sarah Dessen‘s book covers, and I know how much it appeals to its target audience.
Lock and Key is about Ruby Cooper, who moves into her siser’s place after her mother left her behind to fend for herself. Ruby has gotten used to taking care of herself ever since her sister left and her mom could hardly be counted on. She was so used to not owing anyone for help that when she moved to her sister Cora’s place, all she wanted to do was go back. But her new family was insistent on letting her stay and taking care of her, especially Jamie, Cora’s husband, who wanted to provide a good future for Ruby. Ruby is stuck, and despite all good things happening to her, she couldn’t help but feel wary of all this good fortune. She knows that Cora’s world isn’t her world, but she knew she couldn’t count on her mother anymore. But can she really learn to trust all the other people that’s coming in her life?
All the typical Dessen elements were in the story: Ruby, the sort of troubled child who’s left to fend off for herself; Nate, the cute neighbor who Ruby falls for but then has a secret of his own; Olivia, her classmate who she didn’t really like at first but then became friends with; Harriet, her boss at her job who was even more of a control freak than Ruby. There are also old friends who are only in the book to appear that they’re not really “friends”: Marshall, Ruby’s sort of boyfriend and Peyton, the closest thing she had to a best friend. Though not set in the summer, like other Dessen books were, this one still spanned a couple of months, almost half a school year if I got it right. There’s a lot of looking into the past, and backstories and family events and little symbolisms that made the story poignant.
I liked how Dessen was descriptive with Ruby’s past and everything around her — from Ruby’s new room to the key that she kept hanging around her neck. The thing about Lock and Key for me, however, is that it read too much like Love Walked In by Marisa Delos Santos, with the mentally unstable and possibly a drug addict mother leaving the daughter to fend off for herself and someone coming in to save the daughter. I couldn’t help but recall that other novel while reading this one. It’s not entirely the same, but the similarities just feel a bit odd.
But if you’re a Dessen fan, you’ll love all the Easter eggs in this novel. You’ll find a character from almost all of Dessen’s past novels. I especially love it when Kristy and Bert from The Truth About Forever showed up in one scene. :D
Note: Review originally posted at Refine Me