Doug Beatty's Reviews > Lock and Key

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen
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's review
Apr 23, 2009

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bookshelves: teen

Plot: This is the story of Ruby Keller who lives with her mother (an alcoholic) until her mother abandons her at the age of 17. Ruby is sent to live with her sister Cora and her husband Jamie. Jamie is quite wealthy due to inventing and Ruby’s lifestyle begins to change. She meets her next door neighbor Nate who is recovering from an ended relationship with the beautiful Heather. Nate is super friendly and tries to befriend Ruby even though she is hesitant. She also meets Olivia who comes from her old school and is also not finding it easy to make friends. And there is Gervais who is a super genius who agrees to help her with calculus. Ruby discovers that Cora (who is ten years older) did not just abandon the family when she went to college, that she actually tried to keep in touch and help Ruby escape but the mother kept moving, changing the phone and lying to Ruby so Ruby thinks that Cora doesn’t care. When Ruby finds all of this out, she goes to her old crowd and gets drunk and finds her old pot dealer and boyfriend Marshall who is now dating her old best friend Peyton. She is rescued by Nate and comes back home and is chastised but it doesn’t last long and soon she discovers that Nate also has a secret that is father is abusive and Ruby backs off because she doesn’t know how to help him but eventually decides she has to do something and finds a way to help Nate. Along the way she gets a job at the mall with the scattered Harriet and helps Harriet to find romance and Harriet also copies the key that she wears around her neck to make jewelry.

Thoughts: This is a long 400 page novel and it really didn’t seem to have much conflict. Ruby seemed to just fit in with her new family, her new school, even finding Nate and it really didn’t build any tension or cause me to want to read further. The novel itself is good and very well written and the characters are really three dimensional. You really get a feeling for who Ruby is and how she fits in relationship to Cora and Jamie and Jamie’s feeling about his loud and noisy family as opposed to Cora, Ruby and their mom. You also get a good feeling for the character of Nate who gives up his swimming and tries so hard to work for his father even when his father’s business is falling about and Nate is getting abused. The key metaphor works well as the old key to the yellow house is replaced by the new key to Cora’s house and the ending is nice when she can finally drop the key into the fish pond to let her past go. And the loose ends of the novel are sort of tied up as they do eventually find the mother and Nate is shipped to Arizona to live with the mother until they can start school in the fall. There was some tension the day that Ruby skips school and gets drunk but after that, things seem far to easy for her. She spends a lot of time introspectively thinking about things but she even just falls in to relationships at school (even befriending Heather) and manages to pleasantly adhere to Jamie and Cora, even surviving Thanksgiving. The novel just didn’t have a strong pull and it seemed that there was more tension at the end with the problems with Nate that caused you to want to read on. I really did like the book and the characters I just wanted a little bit more.

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