Module 7: Post 2: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Book Title: Lock and Key

Author: Sarah Dessen

Publisher: Penguin Group

Published Date: 2008


Ruby has had a rough life. Her mom is a druggie and her older sister left for college without a look back. She’s been stuck on her own for most of her life. That is until she is really stuck on her own, because her mother has gone and not come back. After the authorities are called she finder herself back with her sister and a past that may not have been truthful. And she finds herself caring about people, something that she’s taught herself never to do again.

APA Reference:

Dessen, S. (2008). Lock and key. New York, NY: Penguin Group.


I love Sarah Dessen. She is one of my go to chick lit authors. No matter the subject, I find myself learning about love, live and myself.

Professional Review:

Gr 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.

Lewis, J. (2008). Lock and key. School Library Journal, 54(5), 121.

Library Uses:

Could be used for teens to show that they aren’t alone in their feelings. Plus, family isn’t always who or what you think and you have to be open to receive them.


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