Google+ Reading Teen: Review: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Monday, August 2, 2010

Review: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Reading level: Young Adult

Hardcover: 432 pages

Publisher: Viking Juvenile (April 22, 2008)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 067001088X

ISBN-13: 978-0670010882

Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches

Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up—Ruby, 17, is taken in by her older sister and brother-in-law when her mother abandons her. Ruby and her sister haven't spoken since Cora left for college a decade earlier. She moves from a semi-heated, semi-lighted farmhouse to a McMansion in a gated community. The theme of abandonment permeates the narrative-Ruby's mother's disappearance, Cora's perceived abandonment, and all of the small abandonments around every corner throughout Ruby's life. The plot hinges luxuriously on character arc. Ruby's drama of pathological self-reliance to eventual trust plays out through thoughtful, though occasionally heavy-handed, inner monologue and metaphor. As always, Dessen's characters live and breathe. Ruby's sweet hipster brother-in-law and Nate, the freakishly affable hottie next door, are especially vivid, and Cora's change from bitter control freak to sympathetic co-protagonist is subtle and seamless. Though Ruby and Nate don't have quite the cinematic chemistry of many of Dessen's couples, their cautious friendship into romance seems that much more realistic. The author's feel for setting is as uncanny as ever, and Ruby's descriptions of the homogenous nouveau riche Anytown are sharp, clever, and honest. The dialogue, especially between Ruby and Cora, is crisp, layered, and natural. The slow unfolding adds to an anticipatory mood. What's more, secrets and situations revealed in the second half of the novel are resolved more believably by already deeply developed characters. Recommend this one to patient, sophisticated readers.—Johanna Lewis, New York Public Library

So what did I think about this book...

Unfortunately I was very disappointed with Lock and Key. My two favorite Sarah Dessen books so far are Just Listen and Along For The Ride . I was expecting this book to be as incredible. I didn't hate Lock and Key, I just won't ever read it again. It was pretty meh. It was just average. While reading this book I enjoyed it. I guess I'm having a delayed reaction or something. The more I think about the book the more I dislike it. I mean, the writing was really amazing! It's just I felt the story line could have been a lot better.

I wasn't crazy about any of the the characters. Actually Ruby's brother-in-law was my favorite character. I really liked how sweet he was. By the second day of Ruby's arrival he already loved her. Worried about her, and just really made her feel like she has a family. Since her childhood example of a "real" family was horrible, with her mom being an alcoholic and abusing her older sister, and then ditching a couple months before Ruby's 18th birthday. It was pretty sad.

And what can I say about Nate? Eh. I didn't love him. (not like previous Sarah Dessen characters... Owen, Eli, Macon, etc) I wish he could have been stronger for Ruby.

Well, you could say I enjoyed this book (...maybe. I'm still deciding.) But from other Sarah Dessen books, I've been encouraged to read all of her novels! :)


*A word to the parents, there is some moderate amount of language and other content that may be questionable. For FULL content check out Parental Book Reviews.


  1. Aww, I'm sad to hear you didn't like it very much. I can kind of see your point though - Just Listen & Along for the Ride were AMAZING, and this one is just mediocre in comparison. Have you read This Lullaby? If not, I totally suggest it - I thought it was hilarious. The Truth About Forever was also REALLY good!

  2. I've got to admit, I was a bit disappointed with this one too. It didn't live up to her previous books, but AFTR made up for it ;)

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  4. This was my first Sarah Dessen novel and I was totally disappointed in it. I couldn't figure why everyone was so worked up over her books. At the urging of a friend I read Along for the Ride and loved it. This is definitely not her best work. It's just "okay". I'm glad I picked something else to read and didn't let this be my only impression of her.

  5. I actually haven't gotten to read this one, but i've been meaning to. Might get it from the library now though.


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