Friday, February 3, 2012

Review: Lock & Key - Sarah Dessen

Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: April 22, 2008
Pages: 422
Read in: 3 days

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.

D, A, & P's Review:

Writing about abuse and neglect can be hard, but Sarah Dessen managed to create a tragic story with a heartwarming and satisfying end. In her eighth novel, “Lock and Key”, Dessen describes the life events of Ruby Cooper, a 17-year-old whose mother is addicted to drugs and alcohol. When Ruby’s mother deserts her in their rundown, yellow house, Social Services drops her at her sister’s house. Ruby and her sister, Cora Cooper-Hunter, haven’t spoken in years so when Ruby shows up unexpectedly, Cora has difficulty accepting Ruby into her new life. At the same time, Ruby feels she can take care of herself and wants to be alone.

This book was a page-turner! We literally tore through it; we couldn’t get enough. Dessen does a fantastic job of illustrating Ruby’s feelings of resentment towards Cora and her new life. “Ruby can take of herself” (Dessen, 2008). We felt like we were watching Ruby’s life, as she had to adjust to a comfortable lifestyle rather than barely scraping by when she lived with her mother. Ruby met Nate Cross, the toned swimming cutie next door, who is there for her when no one else is. Ruby doesn’t think she needs any help from anyone, especially Nate. We adored the fact that Nate is always there for Ruby even though she tries to push him away.

The idea that Ruby had to “save someone else to save herself” really struck us as endearing and a great challenge. We admire Ruby for learning the true meaning of family – that family is more than just bloodlines and marriage but it is the people who care about you, love you, and who you trust. But, at times, we also felt frustrated because Ruby had a hard time letting people in and showing them what she was feeling.

Instantly, when we began to read “Lock & Key” we were drawn in by its complex plot and life-like characters who had problems similar to those in real life. We could really understand Ruby and her issues of adapting to a new environment and trusting new people. What we loved about Ruby was that she was relatable, down-to-earth, spunky, and most of all: a fighter. Ruby didn’t give up when things were rough; in fact she even declared she could take care of herself and we found this quality of hers really admiring and inspirational.

In addition, most of Dessen’s main female characters were young adolescents who came from stable, solid families but Ruby’s situation was different. Ruby’s family was capricious and unpredictable; this was a first for Dessen. It was a nice change to read something unalike from Dessen’s usual pieces. We will definitely be on the lookout for more of Sarah Dessen’s upcoming novels. 



  1. This book is about learning to love, to trust and to help others, as well as learning how to accept help. Lock and Key is a book full of surprises and mysteries. It brings together the themes of friendship, love and family, creating a mixture of ideas that collide to tell an excellent story. The book is about leaving the past behind and realizing that there is more to life than what meets the eye.

  2. Yes, we agree with you! Thank you for your input. We hope you enjoyed reading the book.

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