Title: Lock and Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Release Date: June 1st 2012
Unlock your heart and the rest will follow.
Ruby is used to taking care of herself.
But now that she’s living with her sister, she’s got her own room, she’s going to a good school, and her future looks bright.
Plus there’s an adorable boy next door.
Can Ruby learn to open her heart and let him in?
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
When I was younger I loved Sarah Dessen’s books. From Just Listen to The Truth About Forever I read them all, then for some reason just before the release of Lock and Key I put her books down and didn’t pick them up again; until today. Slowly, starting with Lock and Key and working my way through to her most recent release, I plan to catch up on all of Sarah Dessen’s book I’ve yet to pick up, and possibly re-read a few favourites of mine.
When her landlords discover she’s been living in squalor without heat and water Ruby is taken from the only life she has known and is sent to live with her sister, Cora, and her sister’s husband, Jamie. Unlike Ruby Cora has made a perfect life for herself with a big beautiful home and kind and loving husband. She takes in her little sister when she needs her help but all Ruby wants is to go back to the yellow house where she lived with her mother.
Ever since their father left when she was five and her sister left for university a few years later it has just been Ruby and her mother, and the two have survived like that. Ruby picks up the slack for her mother; lies when the landlords come for the rent, lies when her mother’s employers call asking where she is. Ruby has become used to being on her own, she doesn’t like relying on anyone and all she wants is to turn eighteen and finally set off by herself.
The first night she stays at Cora’s Ruby plans to run away, to run back to the yellow house and then far away; but something, be it her brother-in-law’s kindness or the boy in the swimming pool next door, stops her.
After that failed escape attempt Ruby starts adjusting to her new life. She starts making her own way in her new school and as a part of Jamie and Cora’s family, but there are other things she needs to face which threaten to shatter her carefully laid foundation into pieces. Why did her sister leave without a word, and why did her mother disappear and leave Ruby on her own. Then there’s Nate, the boy next door with an easy-going demeanour who only seem willing to do anything to help other people, but refuses to help himself.
Ruby was a hard character for me to like at first. She was very closed off, independent but also a little damaged by the life she’s led. She’s used to relying on herself and she doesn’t trust other people or open up to them. Ruby always seems to be waiting for the other shoe to drop and her only goal is to survive until she turns eighteen when she plans to leave and never look back. She wants to be alone and sees nothing wrong with living her life that way.
As the book progressed Ruby slowly started to open up to the people around her, let them offer their support, and that was in large part due to the influence of her sister and brother-in-law. Jamie comes from a large family and he is determined to pull Ruby and Cora into his traditions, to give both them a family. After losing touch with her sister Cora wants to get to know Ruby again and wants to help her make the most of her life now she has the opportunity.
Nate, at first glance, seems like the quintessential popular jock who is present in almost every YA contemporary book. He’s one of the most popular students in school, a member of the swim team, and seems to be friends with everyone. Nate is a genuinely kind person, constantly reaching out to Ruby even when she pushes him away, he is always there to help other people but when it comes to accepting help for his own problems he pushes everyone away.
Both Nate and Ruby are similar characters, though at first glance they are very different on the surface. They both have a strong desire to escape from their problems, and both think they can solve everything on their own. However whereas Ruby slowly progresses throughout the book, learning to open up to her family and friends, Nate’s journey in Lock and Key is more difficult.
The secondary characters in this book, their relationships with Ruby and each other, were wonderful to read. From her sister and brother-in-law who support her and give her everything she needs without asking anything back, who believe the best in Ruby and are determined to get her to see it as well. Everyone in Ruby’s life, from Harriet and Reggie who work with Ruby in the mall, to Olivia and Gervais who slowly become her friends at school play a part in shaping Ruby’s development throughout this book. Even Ruby’s mother, who we only see through flashbacks and Ruby’s memories, still has some influence over her daughter’s decisions despite being gone.
I thought the blurb made this book sound lighter than it was. The characters face a lot of struggles throughout and the story deals with some serious subjects, among them abuse and abandonment. It’s not just Ruby who is forced to face some hard truths about her past. I wouldn’t say this book is a completely light-hearted contemporary romance but Sarah Dessen writes in a way that shows a bright side despite the hardships her characters face.
What did you think of Lock and Key? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.