Sunday, January 16, 2011

Lock and Key

Lock and Key
Sarah Dessen
432 pages
Rating: 3/5

"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 demeanor 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?

My Thoughts: 
I was first recommended this book by Jennie from Life is Short. Read Fast.   In fact, this novel was the first book of Sarah Dessen to be on my TBR list.  So, I guess Jennie really was the first one to introduce me to Sarah Dessen, who now is one of my favorite YA authors.  So excited that I stumbled upon Jennie's review!  As far as Lock and Key goes, I loved the cover, and the description sounded amazing.  I have to say though, that I did not enjoy it as much as I have all of the others.  I am not sure if this was the first Sarah Dessen book that I read if I would have the same opinion.  But it simply was not my favorite of her novels.

The general premise of this book, as you can tell from the book description from Goodreads, is that Ruby has grown up with an unreliable mother and has hence learned to not rely on anyone, thereby not letting anyone get close to her.  As she moves in with her sister, she has people around her that attempt to break down those barriers, and the story is how she learns to be apart of a family and to have true friendships that include the give-and-take that all relationships do.  

Just as Auden, from Along for the Ride, was the character I could relate to the most, Ruby was the Dessen character I could relate to the least.  Perhaps it is because I never experienced the things that Ruby did, but reading about her life was very foreign to me.  I had to learn to accept her mindset in order to not get frustrated and yell at the pages.
I also had a hard time grasping the other characters besides Jamie (Ruby's brother-in-law).   Jamie was very readable to me, and I could picture him easily in my mind (perhaps because he reminds me so much of my uncle).  But the other characters, Cora, Nate, Ruby's friend from her previous school, they were all hard to imagine in my mind.  I guess I simply could not put all their pieces and actions together to make a whole character.  I just never really grasped who they were supposed to be as characters, and that made the novel harder to enjoy. 

On another note, I want to give a shout-out to Ms. Dessen for once again creating a picture of healthy relationships.  She has a wonderful talent for creating a realistic picture of how relationships work.  She shows the ups and the downs, and I love that in this novel, she shows how one person's baggage can affect everyone surrounded.  She also portrays the difficulty that working through baggage can be.  There are some novels that oh-wave-a-wand-and-things-are-better, and it just makes me want to laugh - because I believe we all know that real life does not work that way.  Instead, Ms. Dessen actually writes about how relationships can be worked on, and she even makes it interesting.  Kudos to her talent! 

Ultimately, I gave this novel a 3/5 because I did not enjoy it as much as I did all of Ms. Dessen's other novels.  The plot was good, and I thought the lessons learned were appropriate.  I just found the novel not as enjoyable to read.  I could not grasp the characters, and the story just did not seem to jump off the page at me (which might have been a personal issue).  However, the novel was a fun read, and I am not disappointed in the time spent reading it.  If you are a first time Dessen reader, I would recommend picking this one up as a second read.  But I would recommend it to all Dessen and YA fiction fans.  Read and enjoy.

Other reviews about Lock and Key:
Life is Short. Read Fast. review
Books Obsession review
Under the Boardwalk review

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