Thursday, September 18, 2008

Dessen's Lock and Key

This is a wonderfully complex novel, and it will never be on the shelf once I get a copy. Ruby has lived with her ineffectual and angry mother for years, and when her mother finally leaves, Ruby is relieved to be alone, and tries to take care of herself. She's behind on the rent, and the dryer quits, and while she is fine with that, it summons the landlords, who turn her over to juvenile services. Enter her sister Cora, who is ten years older and married to the owner of a sucessful social networking computer site, and who takes her in.

It's a tough adjustment. Even though the years of skipping out on rent, working after school, and trying to keep up at her tough inner-city school weren't easy, they were familiar, and the easy life Cora provides is confusing. Enrolled at a fancy prep school, Ruby finds it difficult to get to know her posh classmates, with the exception of her neighbor, Nate, who has more in common with her than she realizes.

There are problems here. Ruby still makes some bad decisions concerning behavior (some drinking and marijuana use), but these are dealt with effectively by her sister. So much goes on in this novel that I felt the same kind of controlled panic that Ruby felt. How WILL she make it through the nine months until she turns 18 and can leave?

In the end, she doesn't leave in the way she suspects, but there is nothing pat about the ending. There are still problems to work through, more than we suspected at the beginning, but Ruby has people who love and support her, and eventually, things will be okay.

This is a long novel (about 450 pages), but it kept me riveted. A definite purchase for me, because my 8th grade girls crave this sort of thing. Brava, Ms. Dessen.


  1. I decided not even to booktalk Sarah Dessen when the 8th graders came in this fall, and yet EVERY SD book flew off the shelves, including this one. My faves are The Truth About Forever - so many lessons for grown-ups AND kids - and Just Listen, which I had to read twice before I fell in love with it. This Lullaby runs a close third to Just Listen. This one is also excellent. And have you ever read Sarah Dessen's blog? The woman is a hoot! Well worth checking out.

  2. I still haven't gotten to Lock and Key yet, but it's in the pile and I can't wait. I heart Sarah Dessen!