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Lock and Key Paperback – May 14, 2009


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 840L (What's this?)
  • Series: Lock and Key
  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Speak; Reprint edition (May 14, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142414727
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142414729
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #26,335 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

Ruby hasn’t had much success with family. Her father left; her protective older sister, Cora, left; and her boozing mother finally leaves, too. Ruby is alone until Cora learns of her situation and swoops in. Suddenly, Ruby finds herself living with Cora and her wealthy brother-in-law, attending  private school, and wondering just where she fits in. As in previous books, Dessen takes on a central theme—here the meaning of family—and spins many plots and subplots around it. Most prominent yet least successful is the thread about Cora’s  relationship with boy-next-door Nate, who rescues her when she needs it, but has difficulty accepting Ruby’s help, tentative at first, when she discovers he’s being physically abused. Nate seems too good to be true (as does Cora’s husband), while his father is a caricature. And one of the most important elements, the issue of the girls’ mother lying to them, gets lost. Despite the uneven narrative, Dessen’s  writing can be beautiful, and her story is involving. Grades 8-12. --Ilene Cooper --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

I've been writing, in one way or another, for as long as I can remember. I was always a big reader, mostly because my parents were. I used to get frustrated with my mom because she bought me books for Christmas when what I really wanted were the gifts my friends got, things like sweaters and jewelry. But I did love to read. When I was eight or nine my parents gave me an old manual typewriter and a little desk in the corner of our den, and I'd sit there and type up my stories. I was the kind of kid that people always sighed over and said, "She has such a wild imagination," which usually meant "I wish Sarah would try to stick to the truth." I have a tendency to embellish: I think it's just a weakness of fiction writers. Once you learn how to make a story better, it's hard not to do it all the time."The books I read when I was teenager, the good ones anyway, have stuck more in my mind than anything since. I still love books, but while I couldn't tell you complete plots of novels I read even six months ago, I do remember even the smallest descriptive details from Lois Lowry's A Summer to Die or Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. I think it was because back then books were still somewhat new to me, and when I found an author who seemed to say just what I was feeling, it really struck me and resonated. I hope that my books do that for the people who read them: I think it's the best thing to which any writer can aspire. "As far as my other life, my non-writing life, I live in the country with my husband, some lizards, and two dogs who are completely spoiled and rule me completely. I like to work in my garden---although I have not yet perfected the art of keeping everything alive----and, in my weaker moments, shop. I have a bit of an addiction to the Gap clearance rack, to be honest. I have this strange need to buy huge quantities of black pants. How many pairs of black pants does one person need? (Obviously for me, the answer is 11 and counting. But I digress.) What else can I tell you? I love Starbucks mochas but they make me way hyper. I subscribe to too many magazines. I make a mean bean salad. I could go on, but the truth is, my books are much more exciting than I am, and that's a good thing. It's always more fun to make stuff up anyway."

Customer Reviews

I haven't read all of Dessen's books but out of the ones I have read this is my favorite!
Michelle
I loved the characters and I loved the story my favorite part is that it had a happy ending which some books don’t have right away.
Paige Bradish
I came to know Ruby better and better as each page turned, and by the end of the book I felt like she was a great friend of mine.
And Another Book Read

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

82 of 86 people found the following review helpful By Little Willow on April 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Ask twenty people to define "family," and you'll get twenty different definitions. Ruby's definition of family is about to change, and she's not quite sure what that means.

For years, Ruby and her mother moved from apartment to apartment. They lived in random places and cramped spaces above other people's garages. Finally, they find a little yellow house to rent. Ruby's mother, preferring to drown her sorrows in alcohol than deal with them head-on, made her daughter give her excuses to visitors, landlords, and bosses.

The older Ruby got, the more her mother depended on her - and on substances. Ruby became used to her mom disappearing for a few days now and then. When a week turned into two, then three, then a month, Ruby knew her mom wasn't coming back. She went to work and school and lived alone for months before her landlords realized what was going on.

With Ruby seven months away from her eighteenth birthday, child services stepped in. She is sent to live with her older sister, who hasn't seen her in ten years. Cora left for college and, according to their mother, never looked back. Now Cora has a successful career, a husband who is equally successful, and a gorgeous home, with a spunky little dog to boot. How can Ruby fit into this household, let alone into a new school that's posh and private? She's so sure that this could never be her home, her life, that she prepares to run away that very first night and go back to the little yellow house. Fate has other plans for her, and so does Nate, the boy next door.

Though Ruby consents to stay put for the time being, she keeps the key to the little yellow house on a chain around her neck.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By TeensReadToo on May 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
It's been a quite a long time that I found myself sitting up until three in the morning, wanting desperately to finish a story. But that is exactly where I found myself the other night with LOCK AND KEY in my hands. I was so engrossed in Ruby and her story that I had to find out how it ended.

Ruby Cooper has always looked out for Number One. When Ruby was eight, her sister Cora left for university and never looked back. It was always Ruby and her mother, moving from one place to another. Her mother's excuse was to avoid creditors and landlords. Ruby slowly comes to find out that this is the version her mother wanted her to hear.

Early on in her senior year of high school, Ruby's mom does a runner. Leaving Ruby all alone in the rented yellow house, Ruby does what she can to survive. She will be eighteen in less than a year, and if she can hide the fact that she's alone until then, the authorities won't be able to touch her. But when the dryer fails at her rented house and the landlords notice a clothes line strung throughout the kitchen, Ruby's life is forever changed.

Custody of Ruby is given over to her older sister, Cora. Cora and her husband, Jamie, live in a wealthy community and live a life totally foreign to everything Ruby has ever known. Not trusting Cora and Jamie's intentions, Ruby plots an escape her first night in her new home. Making a break over the fence in the back yard, her escape is foiled by one rambunctious dog, Roscoe. Roscoe's barking brings a curious "Hello?" from the other side of the fence. Here she meets her next door neighbor, Nate. Nate's outlook on life is upbeat and infectious. But Ruby does everything she can to keep him at bay, as well.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jenny on April 22, 2008
Format: Hardcover
To be totally honest- I wasn't very impressed by this book at all.
Which is sucky because I love S.D. and all her other books.
However, Lock and Key didn't do anything for me. It felt distant and disconnected.

The reasons:
Ruby was boring and bland. I personally (which is my right) found her to be one dimensional which was not my expectation at all considering S.D.'s past characters who I loved. She had little humor and just didn't have the Dessen magic I expected. Though I'm sure a lot of people can relate to Ruby. She wasn't that complex as some reviews are raving in my opinion. I thought she was stubborn and immature and the fall back of having a mom that was abusive and ducked out on her was a weak excuse for her behavior. If you want to read a book about an interesting victim of abuse, I wouldn't necessarily suggest this book because Ruby was too transparent.

The Lock&Key motif was too redundant. It's just not a strong enough theme in my opinion to have been played on so much.

The story moved too quickly and predictably. Not to say there is anything wrong with predictability, but in this case the actual story was not interesting enough for me to want to hang on and see the ending through. (I did though.) The friendships between Ruby and the other Jackson student didn't seem genuine or really as friendly as the story tried to say it was.

Jamie was annoyingly perfect to me. I mean there's nothing wrong with a family man, and I think some of the things he did for Ruby and Cora were really sweet and unique. It's just it felt corny, and forced. Perhaps it was because it was through Ruby's eyes but I felt Cora and Jamie's relationship could have been touched on more deeply and genuinely instead of the distant way Ruby showed it.
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