I went through a phase a few years ago where all I read was Sarah Dessen. I’ve read every single one of her books, except This Lullaby which I purchased the audio book of, but somehow lost it… but that’s another story. Point is, I was addicted to reading all things by Dessen, so of course, I read Lock and Key with huge expectations. I wasn’t disappointed.
The main thing I love about Sarah Dessen’s books are the characters. They’re never flat and they’re always so complex and then she manages to twist every part of the story into one main message, which I think is pretty superb.
Lock and Key is about a girl named Ruby who is left on her own by her mother. Ruby is used to taking care of herself, so she does her best to survive on her own, until she’s caught and is forced to live with her sister, Cora. Cora left Ruby and her mother to go to college a few years back, and Ruby has never really forgiven her for that, so their relationship is strained.
I think the main focus in the book is family (which is made a tad obvious by Ruby’s English assignment). First, there’s Ruby and Cora’s relationship to each other, and to their mom, then there’s Jamie and his addition to the family, and lastly, there’s Nate’s family issues, and the plot comes full circle in leaving us with several themes, but the main message I got was that families aren’t perfect and that sometimes they’re not there when you need them, but you should still try to hold on to the family you do have, and let go of the ones you don’t.
On a lighter note, the supporting characters in this book are fabulous. Gervais is adorably gross and especially smart for his age, which results in a very memorable character. I also loved Olivia, who is Gervais’ crush, and is always on her cellphone and becomes one of Ruby’s only friends at her new high school. Harriet and Reggie were very minor characters, but I enjoyed the roles they did play, they were like older versions of Ruby and Nate, in some ways.
Plus, I adore how Dessen includes places and characters from her other books, such as Jackson High, Annabel, and Owen, from Just Listen.
Note: This book has some heavy topics, such as abuse, sex, and drugs.