Title: Lock and Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Genre: YA, fiction
Publisher: Speak (2009)
Rating: 3.5/6 – I liked it
Synopsis from cover: Ruby can take care of herself.
She’s used to counting on no one and answering to nobody. But all of that changes when her mother vanishes and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister, Cora. Now Ruby’s got her own room in a fabulous new house, she’s going to private school, and – for the first time – feeling as if she has a future. Plus, there’s the adorable and sweet boy next door, Nate. Everything should be perfect. So why is Ruby so wary? And why is Nate keeping her at a distance? Ruby soon comes to realize that sometimes, in order to save yourself, you’ve got to reach out to someone else.
My Initial Thoughts/Rambling: This is the last book in my teen romance binge, and my least favorite out of the four that I read. Usually I’m a fan of Dessen (my favorite being Just Listen so far), but this one just didn’t hit the right notes for me. Not saying that it’s bad, but it just wasn’t stunning, you know? A good read, but nothing I’m going to sing in the hills for.
What did I think about the characters? Ruby has that “I can take care of myself and don’t need anyone’s assistance” sort of attitude: though with good reason. She’s been abandoned by her mom and left to fend for herself, and then is thrust into the rich suburban world where homeowners decide to make ginormous koi ponds on a whim. So I think I’ll forgive her for the tough exterior she builds up. What was great about Ruby was that she isn’t so stubbornly insistent on keeping everyone out: she gives people a chance and begins to come out of her shell. Great character development!
Nick, the boy next door turned maybe-love-interest, made it onto my list of literary boyfriends. Not high up, but definitely on the list. He was sweet, considerate, and never loud about it. He has a quiet, assuring quality that I really wish Dessen had used more. She created such a great character, but he fell to the wayside as the plot shifted to a different focus. Plus, he’s hot, and sarcastic, and not afraid to call Ruby out on her crap. What more could we ask for??
And the concept and plot? Concept: It’s everything I expected from a Dessen novel, though not as well executed as I was hoping for. I did like the choice Dessen made to not portray Cora and Jamie (Ruby’s sister and brother-in-law) as the wicked relatives. They were supportive and loving, and just very real, rather than the oppressive and abusive parent figures that a lot of books feature.
Plot: My one complaint is how Nate’s sub-plot was handled. There was so much potential for him, especially with the seriousness of the situation with his dad, but it was kind of tossed to the side. I feel like if Dessen had planned to keep Nate as uninvolved in the end as he was, she shouldn’t have picked such a deep subject matter to use for him. It felt a bit cheap, like his circumstances were only to tug the heartstrings. I’d be placated if we got a separate novel for Nate’s story, but until then I remain a bit grumpy!
What about the writing style? Dessen has this quality about her writing that draws you in; she portrays teenage problems so well, I think. Her characters are unique to each story, but there’s always something that connects you to the main characters, and it’s really easy to get involved. It’s not hard to read her books, but it’s a deceptive simplicity.
Anything else you’d like to add? I don’t regret reading the book, because I did enjoy it, but I just wish Nate had been given a bigger chance in the novel! Other than that, I do recommend it. It didn’t hit the favorites list, but it entertained me when I was dealing with a bad night of insomnia.