Lock and Key

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

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.

Read: September 19, 2012

I’ve read a few books by Sarah Dessen and I tend to read her stuff whenever I am in the mood for YA books that deal with the harsher side of reality. This is one of my favorite Sarah Dessen books so far.
Ruby doesn’t fall into the usual damsel in distress type, nor does she fall into the martyr type either. Nate doesn’t fall into the usual rich-guy hero type, either. In fact, the book doesn’t focus on their (what-would-be) romance, instead it focuses on family and how Ruby struggles to learn to trust the people who want to be a part of her life.

Speaking of trust, another thing I liked about the story was that it didn’t prolong whatever suffering the leads had to go through. I’ve read other books wherein, say, the lead was being abused, and this goes on and on until the end of the story- which continues on to the next book. It was refreshing to read about someone who was really aware of what was going on and knew what the options were. I never felt like kicking Ruby at any point in the book, maybe a tiny pinch here and there, but none of the violent sort.

I also liked the emphasis on the good things- like tradition, discipline, values and loyalty- and the constant presence of members of their family. I was a bit turned off by how Jamie was obviously patterned after the certain FB CEO we all know (how Jamie’s also going public with the company, its a social networking site, etc), but this wasn’t really a main focus, so I let it slide. The other characters like Cora and her friends, Harriett, Gervais and Olivia were likable and I think Dessen made sure that they were diverse.
Being the sheltered girl that I am who believes in rainbows and unicorns, I had a difficult time reading the parts with Ruby’s old friends so I found myself just scanning those parts. Although there was a turning point during that part where (spoiler!) Ruby’s friends left her and it was Nate who came to her aid. As he reasoned, it is simply what actual friends do.

Contrary to what some of the other reviews said, the open-endedness of the book made me feel like this is still happening. We don’t settle all loose ends in our life within a year or a month or a certain period of time, it doesn’t happen that way. In fact, we’d be lucky to settle for some sort of compromise. As for the depth of the story, the book started with the worst (in Ruby’s case) being over, she lets us in on her mom’s behavior through memories and conversations with her sister, Cora. The story is about finding hope and learning to trust, and learning to give back. It doesn’t really need to focus on the horrible things (otherwise, please read the Breathing trilogy, which I will probably review some other time.) The book ended on a positive note, like you know all will be well.

This was an easy read and even if it was half about the awful stuff, I felt good after reading this book.

I liked it. 3 out of 5 stars.

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