Overall Impression: A good solid read, but with a few kinks to work out.
I picked this book out from the Library excitedly, having read one of Sarah Dessen’s previous books ‘The Truth About Forever’ which I really enjoyed. And thankfully, Lock and Key didn’t disappoint…..
“ Ruby Cooper likes to expect the worst. That way, she’s never disappointed. Abandoned by her mother and forced to leave the house she calls home, Ruby is facing too many changes. Her world has been transformed into a life of luxury by her long-lost sister, but all Ruby wants to do is leave – she can make it on her own. Even Nate, the gorgeous boy next door, can’t seem to change her mind.
Will Ruby realise first impressions don’t always count? And that sometimes, people can surprise you, so it’s OK to let the closest ones in…. “
This book starts off with us following the teenager Ruby Cooper who is struggling to live with a mum who is both neglectful, suffers from alcoholism and is sometimes violent. They live in run down rented accommodation, changing their names each time they move so they can’t be traced (the reasons for this become evident later in the book).
But one day, Ruby comes home and her mum isn’t there. She tries to continue on her own paying the rent, going to school etc. with the knowledge that in less than a year she will turn 18, and can get the hell out of there. However, her plans are spoiled when a kitchen appliance breaks, flooding the house. She is discovered and taken in by child services.
Lucky for Ruby, she is taken in by her estranged older sister Cora (who abandoned her with her mother when she left for University) and her husband, who are filthy rich, living the high life. Ruby, used to relying only on herself and being independent, fights this every step of the way. But slowly she is convinced to stay, and starts to become friends with her seemingly perfect, happy go lucky neighbour Nate, against her better judgement.
This book explores the way in which she adapts to her new life, and the way her perception of the world, and what family means, slowly begins to change. She learns many lessons along the way, including that it’s ok to ask for help sometimes, and that appearances aren’t always what they seem. I would describe this as a coming of age story, with a dash of romance on the side.
I didn’t think this book was as good as some of Dessen’s other work such as ‘The Truth About Forever’ as it seemed slower paced, and there were quite a few times I picked it up and the story didn’t seem to be going anywhere. It was almost as if it got stuck in a lull half way through where the story wasn’t moving forwards of backwards. But apart from that, I have nothing but praise for this book. The writer is excellent at observing the behaviour of people in everyday life, and uses this to create, well rounded, relatable characters that you could imagine running into on the street in everyday life. She is excellent at capturing the internal struggles and conflicting emotions of your average teenager, which is what makes her so suited to write this genre of book. Her informal style of writing is easy to read, and entertaining, and at times, even moved me to tears.
I would recommend this book to teens and young adults age 11 – 19 who like books that ponder the meanings of life and follow characters on a journey of discovery and self improvement. I think even adults would enjoy the book if they were looking for an easy read.
Writing style: 3/5
Character Development: 4/5
Would I recommend this book? For a quick read, yes