This story revolves around Ruby, a high school senior who has been abandoned by her alcoholic mother and brought to live with her sister Cora, who has become pretty well off with her husband, Jamie. Things aren’t real hunky-dory since Ruby knows Cora doesn’t want her around any more than she wants to be there – Ruby learned one valuable lesson from her mother: Never rely on anyone but yourself. But before she has the chance to take off, she meets the nice, cute boy next door, Nate. And before she knows it she’s starting to enjoy the more stable life Cora and Jamie offer her, and Ruby begins to realize that some things she knows to be fact… aren’t. Yet as she comes to see things more clearly and starts to deal with her childhood, her friendship with Nate begins to strain. He seems unable to let her in to his life. Ruby wonders what could be keeping him so distant.
I love Sarah Dessen. Her books are exquisite, poetic, graceful, perceptive, and heartbreaking. Not to mention inspiring. Lock and Key is more in the category of the grittier Dreamland and This Lullaby, which are a couple of my favorites. Sarah is amazing at creating a main character than can be so flawed, so torn up, and sometimes truly screwed up – in a way we all can be. Ruby is both relatable and familiar. You feel like you could know this girl. You could be this girl.
Sarah’s writing is at the caliber it always is, yet again, in Lock and Key. She kept me gripped in this personal, family story. It felt intimate, sometimes painful. She adorned the novel with a group of three-dimensional REAL people, from her sister and brother-in-law, to the boy next door who might not live as perfect a life as he seems (who does, really?), to the people she works with at the mall.
However, I won’t deny that there were plot points and twists that I saw coming before they, well, came. I guessed right on more secrets than I’d have liked. And I felt like, surprisingly, the final quarter of the novel seemed rushed and wrapped up too quickly to have the normally more-than-satisfying Sarah Dessen conclusion.
I don’t know… It was odd. The first three-quarters of Lock and Key was fantastic, beautiful, insightful, and touching (though, like I said, a couple storylines I saw coming), but then out of nowhere the quality seemed to drop. Maybe it’s just me. Like I say, don’t take my word for it. And, anyway, the first three-quarters of Lock and Key are worth reading no matter what – but I still felt like, by the time I slid Lock and Key in my bookcase alongside the incomparable That Summer, Someone Like You, Keeping the Moon, Dreamland, This Lullaby, Just Listen, and The Truth About Forever… it didn’t QUITE live up.
But still highly recommended.