Lock and Key
Sarah Dessen
422 pages; published 2008

“And finally,” Jamie said as he pushed the door open, “we come to the main event. Your room.”

I was braced for pink. Ruffles or quilting, or maybe even appliqué. Which was probably kind of unfair, but then again, I didn’t know my sister anymore, much less her decorating style. With total strangers, it had been my policy to expect the worst. Usually they – and those you know best, for that matter – did not disappoint. (1)

When Ruby’s mother disappears she doesn’t exactly panic. Her mother’s been gone before, and always returned sooner or later. Besides, she’s nearly eighteen, plenty old enough to look after herself, right?

Perhaps not.

Coming to the attention of social services, the courts place the seventeen year old Ruby under the care of her elder sister Cora and her husband Jamie. It has been ten long years since she has seen her sister, and the last thing Ruby wants is to be dependant on anyone, let alone the emotionally distant Cora (whom she still blames for abandoning her so long ago) and the super cheery, extra-enthusiastic Jamie. Their impressive house in an exclusive neighbourhood is a far cry from the lifestyle she is used too – and she doesn’t intend to stick around too long.

However, her plans for escape don’t go precisely to plan and, before she knows it, Ruby is entangled in this new life. So used to being alone, Ruby is now surrounded by people she not only comes to depend on, but who depend on her – Nate, her oh-so-perfect swimmer neighbour; Harriet, her control-freak boss; and Roscoe, a dog with a multitude of issues. And with her mother now missing from her life, the only remaining link to her former world is the cold key to her old house hanging around her neck.

But her new life and those who inhabit it aren’t all as shiny and perfect as they might seem. There are now people to disappoint, people to support, and even people to protect… and perhaps, a unlikely as it may seen, it is Ruby who holds the key to unlocking happiness in all their lives.

I’ve seen reviews for Sarah Dessen books pop up here and there and I got the impression that she was quite a popular YA author. Lock and Key is the first of her books that I’ve read but based on this book I’d have to say that that the reputation was probably deserved.

I liked Ruby as a main character – I felt that she had the perfect blend of almost-eighteen-arrogance and battered little girl fragility. Her interactions with those around her as she makes the change from isolation to being part of a family were genuine and moving – even humorous in parts. 4/5

Purchase Lock and Key here.

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Anonymous said...

I absolutely love Sarah Dessen, and she's definitely got a following in the YA community. I would highly recommend her novel Just Listen -- it's my favorite of all her books! I enjoyed Lock and Key, but nothing can top Just Listen for me.

Rebecca said...

I'll try Just Listen, thanks for the recommendation :)

Ladytink_534 said...

I've seen this around but it sounds a lot better than I thought it would be (someday I'll remember that you're not supposed to judge a book by its cover!)