Title: Lock and Key
Author: Sarah Dessen
Published: May 2009 by Speak
My Rating: 3.5 stars
Tags: YA | Realistic | Romance
Includes: Brief Profanity, Brief Drug/Alcohol Use
First Lines: "And finally," Jamie said as he pushed the door open, "we come to the main event. Your room."
Ruby has a hard family life. After her mom abandons her, Ruby is sent to live with her older sister, Cora, who she hasn't seen in ten years, and her husband, Jamie, in their expensive house. She starts going to a private school and wearing fancy clothes but just doesn't feel like she fits in. Ruby decides to stay independent and not befriend anyone - that is until she meets her neighbor Nate. As they become closer, she realizes that not everything is as it seems on the surface. Nate's life may not be as perfect as she first thought.
I am a HUGE Sarah Dessen fan, and was ecstatic to start reading this book of hers. In the past, her feel-good books have been written so beautifully, she hits emotions spot on, is known for her amazing characters, and creates truly realistic storylines. However, I didn't find all of those things in this book which was a big let down. It seemed to me that all of the previous books she wrote were just combined into this one: an abused boyfriend (Dreamland), moving to a new house/school (Keeping the Moon), messed up mothers (almost all her books), etc. Even though you can run wild with these topics, I wanted something brand new from Sarah Dessen. One thing that I absolutely loved though was all of the hidden connections in this book to her other books. So many characters and places from her previous novels made small appearances in this one and I was always running back and forth between all of my Sarah Dessen books whenever I got the subtle feeling of deja vu. It was really creative and interesting how she did that.
Ruby's characters was very...complex. I liked that she was unpredictable and hard to read. She's sweet and lonely in the inside, but on the outside is independent and doesn't like getting help from people. I'm glad she wasn't just a two-dimensional character, but instead had layers that were revealed as the book progressed. Nate: Ruby's carpool and preppy, cute, and popular guy at school. At first he seemed too good to be true. He was friendly to anyone he came in contact with and always thought positively. But later on in the story, you find out he's not too perfect. Dessen is known for her amazing, romantic, almost flawless boyfriends that are in the majority of her books. Even though I sort of doubt there are high school guys that great out there, it's still fun to read about.
From Page 322
He was still watching me, both of us bobbing, and I could feel the water around me, pressing in, pulling back. Then, slowly, Nate was moving closer, leaning in, and despite all I'd told myself, and all I wanted to believe I was and wasn't capable of, I stayed where I was as he kissed me.
I was disappointed at how SLOW this book moved along. It took me weeks to finish because I was just never in the mood. The more and more pages I read, the more bland the book was getting. It seemed like nothing worth interest was happening, until halfway through the book when Ruby and Nate finally hit it off. If the book wasn't so boring I would have enjoyed it a lot more. There were some great moments in the novel and characters that I will definitely remember. One of my favorites being Gervais, the nerdy, annoying twelve year old who's a senior. There was something about him that really got my attention and left an impression on me.
Unlike many reviews for this book I've read referring to the bad ending, I actually loved it. I think Dessen wrapped it up perfectly with a bow on top. It for sure wasn't a happily-ever-after ending (thankfully), but did put everything in its place just as it should be. This book definitely is not close to one of my favorites of Dessen's work, but still made the cut.
Cover Thoughts: I really like it - it's pretty, fits the title, and looks elegant.