Kirkus Reviews QR Code
LOCK AND KEY by Sarah Dessen

LOCK AND KEY

By Sarah Dessen

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: April 17th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-670-01088-2
Publisher: Viking

Overlong but easygoing piece about a girl shifting from defensive solitude to connection. Social Services doesn’t allow Ruby to stay alone in the yellow house for very long after her mother disappears, instead placing her with older sister Cora and Cora’s unflappably sweet husband. Having failed in an attempt to run away the first night, Ruby decides to wait out the year until she turns 18 and can be alone forever. The narrative arc is predictable: Ruby’s new school is full of rich kids but she makes friends anyway; Cora’s initial coldness is actually steady loyalty (and Cora never really deserted the family long ago—mom lied); the abused boy next door is outgoing and helpful, but he needs to learn the same lesson about trust that Ruby does. The key Ruby pragmatically wears as a necklace becomes a widespread jewelry fad, just one of many unsubtle symbols and forced messages. Sentences overflow with extra clauses and unnecessary details, contributing to the book’s length. Dessen’s tone, however, is invitingly non-threatening and will reward patient readers. (Fiction. YA)