Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Title: Lock and Key
Author: Sarah Dessen (blog)
Genre: Fiction-Young Adult
Hardcover: 432 pages
Publisher: Viking Juvenile; First Printing, First Edition edition (April 22, 2008)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

My thoughts:
Ruby Cooper is a 18 year old teenager who shoulders more burden than she should at such a young age. Her mother is an irresponsible women who cares more about herself than Ruby.  Ruby has grown up taking care of herself and moving homes and schools according to the shim and fancies of her mother. One day, her mother disappears and she is left alone at the run down yellow house. Ruby manages on her own while she can for about 2 months until her landlords find her living alone in the house and turn her over to the social services.

Thats when her elder sister, who had left home and never come back, takes her in. She is now married to a guy called Jamie and has a huge house and a good life. Everything she had always wanted. But for Ruby, she is a stranger. After not knowing anything about her sisters whereabouts, now being in her house at her mercy was something that was overwhelming for Ruby. As she decides what to do next and as her life is being turned upside down, she meets a guy called Nate, a neighbor.

Having heard so much about Sarah Dessen I had very high expectations. I started Lock and Key, read a 100 pages, thought the pace was very slow and was still wondering what is so great about Sarah Dessen when ‘Baam’, I was hit by her writing powers. There is no other way to describe it. She explores a lot of themes that many YA novels do, relationships, family, responsibilities, grief but she does it so well. I cried so much at one point that I had to lock myself in the bathroom so that nobody sees me crying over a book.

Sarah Dessen writes characters that grow on you, be it Ruby, Jamie, her sister Cora and even the pet dog Roscoe. Initially I was disappointed in Nate as he seemed like any other YA novel hero. But as the story progressed, and the layers peel off, we get to know things that make him different.

Lock and Key is about many things-finding the meaning of family, of grief, of being there for someone you love even when all you can do is just be there, of accepting help when needed, and of believing in yourself and the power of changing your destiny.

Here are some of the sentences from the book:

But wasn’t that always the way. It’s never something huge that changes everything, but instead the tiniest of details, irrevocably tweaking the balance of the universe while you’re busy focusing on the big picture

It’s a lot easier to be lost than found. It’s the reason we’re always searching and rarely discovered–so many locks not enough keys.

We can’t expect everybody to be there for us, all at once. So it’s a lucky thing that really, all you need is someone.

Family isn’t something that’s supposed to be static, or set. People marry in, divorce out. They’re born, they die. It’s always evolving, turning into something else.

This is exactly what I wanted, as commitments had never really been my thing. And it wasn’t like it was hard, either. The only trick was never giving more than you were willing to lose.

If you didn’t always have to choose between turning away for good or rushing in deeper. In the moments that it really counts, maybe it’s enough – more than enough, even – just to be there.

What can I say? I’m a new fan. I have ‘Just Listen’ by Sarah Dessen so I have one more book to look forward to. If you love YA and haven’t read Sarah Dessen, you seriously don’t know what you’re missing.

9 thoughts on “Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

  1. I’ve not read a Sarah Dessen book but I do have a few of them in my pile. I’m glad you enjoyed this book, and now after reading your review I can’t wait to start reading her books! 🙂

  2. Violet I am so happy you loved this book. You should read Just Listen and also my personal favorite The Truth About Forever. Theses books are some of the best in contemporary YA..:)

  3. I’ve never read Sarah Dessen book but will rectify that soon. I know what you meant by locking yourself in the bathroom and cry to your heart out. I do that every time I read a Nicholas Sparks book. I book myself into the bathroom and launch into a cryfest.

  4. I have read two of her books and loved them both. I have this one on my TBR pile and I’m looking forward to reading it, especially after your review!

  5. This book is my absolute favorite! ive read it a billion times and it never gets old. i love the quotes you put up, their awesome, but i have one for you to add: Out of sight, hard to recognize, but still able to be found, even if i was the only one to ever look for it.

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