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 demeanour 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.

This is the third Sarah Dessen novel I have read, and again I loved it! She writes memorable, realistic and completely readable books. Her novels are classed as “young adult” but I love them anyway – maybe that is why. There is no need to over-complicate the story or the characters, it is just a gripping story about life.

This story follows Ruby, whose mother has suddenly left her. She hides this fact though and tries to manage living on her own. This is working fine until her landlords pop round and discover she is alone. Social services set in and she is sent to live with her sister and her brother-in-law – her sister being someone else who just left her. All this leaves Ruby struggling to trust anyone, Cora, Jamie or Nate – her cute neighbour who is nice for no reason. This story follows her as makes some big changes in her life and her outlook about people.

I found this story slower than the other two I have read, but I loved it anyway. I still found myself reading 100 pages in one go because I was gripped. I loved the characters. Dessen writes realistic people, with real problems and I was able to empathise with them. I really liked Jamie – he had never met Ruby but he welcomed her into his home and looked out for her. He was a really strong character and it was easy to like him. Cora, once we learnt more about her was also a lovely character. As a girl she had looked out for Ruby, and she was doing it again as an adult. I have said this in other reviews, but one thing I like about Dessen is that instead of just focussing on the main character, she lets the reader know the background of other characters, which enables the reader to feel for them too.

The story itself was good. Ruby learns and changes, and it is lovely to see. By the end she is the one who is helping out others, teaching them to trust. There are things which she does that I didn’t like but all that added to her growth. She was a girl I felt sorry for and wanted the best for – I love books where I find myself cheering on the protagonist.

Everything about this book was great and it will stay with me for a long time. This is a fabulous young adult book, which all adults should read. Another book that gets full marks from me.

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