Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

lock and key novelSarah Dessen is a very popular young adult author and after watching her name and books show up in every possible location (the bookstore! the library! blogs! book lists!) I finally picked Lock and Key up at the library.

And then I let it sit on my bedside table for weeks. Because obviously I wanted the book to feel at home.

lock and key by sarah dessen

Lock and Key narrated by Ruby, a seventeen year old girl who has been living with her mom, on the verge of poverty, until she comes home one day from school to find her mom is gone. Her mom is a bit of an alcoholic and pretty unpredictable, so Ruby isn’t terribly sad. In fact, she’d been planning to move out as soon as she turned eighteen, so she just figured things have started a little early.

She manages okay for a while, keeping her mom’s job (delivering lost luggage for airlines) and mostly paying the bills, until the dryer breaks and the landlord comes to check it out and turns her into social services.

Ruby’s older sister, Cora, and her husband take Ruby in, much to Ruby’s displeasure. She and Cora were very close growing up, but then Cora went off to college and made no effort to stay in touch, not even inviting them to her wedding.

Life changes drastically when she moves in with them, since it turns out that Jamie (Cora’s husband) started UMe.com (basically like MySpace) and is fabulously wealthy. She is enrolled in a private high school, lives in their big mansion, and carpools to school each day with the popular and handsome boy next door.

But Ruby is used to being on her own and is uncomfortable accepting help or getting close to anyone, whether it’s Cora or Jamie or the new kids at her school.

This Lock and Key novel is not a particularly complicated plot and it was fairly predictable too, but the character development was good enough that I didn’t even really notice until it was all over.

My one complaint was the time line pacing. A ton of stuff would happen and then she’d say something about how she’d now been living with Jamie and Cora for two weeks. And then there would be two pages and a bit saying that it’d been six weeks since Christmas. That sort of thing makes me a little bit crazy (Twilight does it too and each time I’ve reread it, I’ve ground my teeth together a little (just kidding, Dad, I would never ever grind my teeth on purpose).

I wouldn’t say she has shot to the top of my favorite author list or anything, but it was a very enjoyable read and I’ll certainly be reading more Sarah Dessen books. In my mind, she deserves most of the hype.

If you liked this review of this lock and key novel, you might also like these books:

Similar Posts


  1. Here’s another thing about Sarah Dessen – her plots all kind of seem to have the same basic idea after awhile. I like her too, but just reading this review made me go, “Oh, yeah, that is SO Sarah Dessen.” That said, I really love The Truth About Forever and Just Listen, so if you read more, read those.

  2. This was by far one of my least favorite books of hers. But now I’m nervous to tell you to read my favorites in case you don’t like them. But all of the other ones are better, IMHO.

    BTW, have you read Rules of the Road? Another one of my fave YAF books. And have you read Sloppy Firsts yet? If not, get on it!

  3. Thanks for another book to add to my list.

    Thank you – Glad I am not the only one that gets annoyed at discrepancies or impossible time frames in a book or even a series. Recently I read a light murder mystery that mentioned several historical “facts”. I hope no one ever uses that book for a reference! (I think it was a Cynthia Baxter book; I had 3 books going at once. Unfortunately, I didn’t keep notes.)

  4. I really enjoy reading Sarah Dessen for the simple fact that her books are the fun, quick-read, teenage romance types. Yes, the drama seems a little much, but I like her writing style and how she understands the teenage mind and thoughts. My favorite, favorite book of her’s is “The Truth About Forever.” Whenever I want to read a quick, feel-good teen romance, I’ll pick up that book and I can finish it in a couple of hours (skipping to all of the best parts). Another fun one is “This Lullaby.” Again, I don’t think she is the best teen author out there, but she is definitely fun to read.

  5. Wow, I’ve never heard of her. Thanks for the tip. The timeline pacing is quite annoying when it’s off. Would anyone grind their teeth on purpose? The very thought makes me shudder.

  6. “And then I let it sit on my bedside table for weeks. Because obviously I wanted the book to feel at home.” ….LOL – that’s my new excuse for buying books + then not reading them forever.

    by the way, you’re book reviews are fantastic. you reveal just enough but never too much, it’s great!

  7. My favorite of hers is Just Listen. But I have noticed that her writing is fairly predictable…there are Sarah Dessen Stock Characters that show up in every novel.

  8. Hi Janssen. This is Megan’s old roommate Miri. I was referred to your blog today (by Megan, of course) for your excellent book reviews, and I thought I should let you know that I’ll be lurking regularly now. 🙂

    For the record, I also really love Just Listen and The Truth About Forever (the latter more than the former), and I agree with Megan that you should try those if you’re going to read more Sarah Dessen.

  9. i’ve read Just Listen and The Truth About Forever – both of which i enjoyed. i plan to read more of Dessen’s work. maybe Lock and Key will be next!

  10. At the BBYL committee, they talked about this one and said it reminded them of her other stuff. I haven’t read her, either, but this might be a good start.

    Also, one of your other comments mentioned reading “Sloppy Firsts.” If you haven’t, you should. That series is my biggest guilty pleasure – when the last one came out, I got to the bookstore at 10 am when it opened and busted down the doors until they hunted down a copy for me in the back. Embarrassing…or delightfully exciting!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *