Lock and Key

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Bestselling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.

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Lock and Key

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Read by Rebecca Soler

Bestselling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
After her mom vanished in a stench of drugs and alcohol, Ruby continued to live in the family house alone. Finally found out, the introspective teenager is sent to the luxurious home of her older sister, Cora, whom she hadn't seen in ten years. Everything there seems unfamiliar, uncomfortable, and supremely weird: her fancy new room; her lavish new wardrobe; the exclusive private school where she never quite fits in. Most mysterious of all is Nate, the friendly boy next door who seems to have a deep secret of his own. Another subtle character-driven teen novel by Sarah Dessen, the author of Just Listen and That Summer.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—Seventeen-year-old Ruby has been abandoned by her father, her older sister, and now her alcoholic mother. When social services discovers her living on her own in deteriorating conditions, they move her in with her married sister Cora who she hasn't seen in years. Ruby has become independent and mature beyond her years, and has trust issues. The relationship between the characters and their internal struggles are complicated, but their voices carry listeners through the story's arc to a hopeful and satisfying conclusion. These descriptions are often raw and the contrast between Ruby's gritty former life and her new lavish surroundings with her sister and brother-in-law make these scenes even more startling. Jodi Dick does an excellent job of differentiating her voice for each of the characters, making this frank and honest story come to life.—Genevieve Gallagher, Charlottesville High School, VA
Publishers Weekly
Dessen (Just Listen) inverts a familiar fairy tale: what if Cinderella got the prince, the castle and all its accoutrements, but wasn’t remotely interested? After her mother abandons her, Ruby Cooper is flying below the radar of officialdom and trying to make it to her 18th birthday, when she’s busted by the landlord and turned over to social services. Ruby gets taken in by her estranged sister, Cora, who left for college a decade earlier and never looked back, and Cora’s husband, Jamie, the wealthy founder of a ubiquitous social networking site. Resentful, suspicious and vulnerable, she resists mightily, refusing the risky business of depending on anybody but herself, and wearing the key to her old house around her neck. All the Dessen trademarks are here—the swoon-worthy boy next door who is not what he appears to be; and the supporting characters who force Ruby to rethink her cynical worldview, among them the frazzled owner of a jewelry kiosk at the mall. The author again defines characters primarily through dialogue, and although Ruby and her love interest, Nate, sound wiser than their years, they talk the way teens might want to—from the heart. A must for Dessen fans, it will win her new readers, too. Ages 12-up.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

AGERANGE: Ages 15 to adult.

Lock and Key is a quiet, moving dramatic family story such as we expect from Sarah Dessen, one of the fine authors of YA fiction. It is long, and could easily be considered a novel for adults as well as YAs. Ruby is almost 18 years old, and her mother has abandoned her. She tried to take care of herself and pay the bills, but the landlords figured it out and reported her to social services. Ruby’s life changes dramatically when her older sister Cora and Cora’s husband Jamie take her in. Instead of attending a huge, mediocre public school, she now is in a nurturing private school; she has a ready-made family who can take good care of her; it is possible for her to attend college. So, why is she so hesitant to trust Cora and Jamie, to relax and allow new friends into her life? As the months go by, slowly Ruby learns some truths about her own parents and about Cora, and she begins to allow people to love her and take care of her. She gets involved with the next-door neighbor, Nate, who seems to also be living the good life, but Ruby finds out how vulnerable Nate is to his abusive father. There is some smoking of weed, drinking of alcohol, and casual sex, but it is mostly suggested, not described in detail, and certainly not portrayed as positive in Ruby’s life. Thoughtful readers who like slowly unfolding family sagas will want to read this latest work by Dessen. Reviewer: Claire Rosser
March 2008 (Vol. 42, No.2)

Dessen's latest novel is a testament to her development as a writer. Ruby is unlike any of her previous narrators. A loner by choice, Ruby follows in her mother's footsteps with drinking and drugs. Given a chance to start over, she redefines the meaning of family and in doing so, herself. The characters are real and relatable. This new book is Dessen's best since This Lullaby and it will captivate all readers. Reviewer: Abbe Goldberg, Teen Reviewer
Children's Literature - Melissa Joy Adams
Abandoned by her mother, Ruby has been living alone in a filthy house without running water or heat for two months. Her only goal is keeping her mother's disappearance a secret until she turns eighteen, legally free to be on her own. But with only a few months left, her secret is discovered and she is placed in the care of her sister Cora, who left ten long years ago. Living with Cora and her successful husband, Ruby now has access to things she previously thought impossible—new clothes, private schooling, a beautiful home, and even the possibility of college. Despite now having a family, a home, and all these opportunities, Ruby cannot let her guard down, fearing that at any moment everything could change and Ruby will be alone once again. After her next door neighbor Nate repeatedly helps her out of trouble, Ruby reluctantly becomes friends with him. As their relationship develops, Ruby discovers that Nate has more in common with her than she initially thought—secrets he cannot face. In order to help both Nate and herself, Ruby must make peace with her past and learn to trust others. Dessen's novel is quick and fun literary candy. While the plot is at times unrealistic, readers will connect to Ruby and root for her success. Reviewer: Melissa Joy Adams
School Library Journal

Gr 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

Kirkus Reviews
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)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781440752094
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/21/2010
  • Format: CD
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Sarah Dessen

Sarah Dessen is the author of eight previous highly acclaimed novels for young readers, including the New York Times bestsellers Just Listen and Lock and Key. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.


Although she was born in Illinois, YA novelist Sarah Dessen has spent most of her life in Chapel Hill, NC. Both of her parents were professors at the University of North Carolina, where Sarah studied creative writing and graduated with a degree in English.

As far back as she can remember, Dessen has always wanted to write. She remembers churning out wildly imaginative stories on an old manual typewriter her parents gave her when she was eight or nine years old. So it was only natural that after college she would forego a "real job," choosing instead to support herself by waiting tables at a local eatery while trying to publish a novel. In 1996, just three years after graduation, she sold her first book, the witty, wry coming-of-age story That Summer. A second novel, Someone Like You, followed two years later. (In 2003, these two books were loosely adapted into the movie How to Deal, starring teen sensation Mandy Moore.)

Dessen claims she never set out to be a YA writer, but somehow her memories always bring her back to high school, a time and place that resonates strongly for her. Living in her hometown where she is still in contact with many childhood friends, she finds it pretty easy to get in touch with her "inner teenager." In addition, the books she read from that time have a special, magical staying power. She explains it this way on her website:

"[W]hile 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."
If one can judge from her growing fan base and continued presence on the bestseller lists, Dessen can safely say "mission accomplished."

Good To Know

Here are some fun facts about Sarah Dessen:

  • Most of Dessen's books are set in the fictional town of Lakeview and feature recurring locales and characters.

  • Dessen also teaches creative writing at her alma mater, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

  • Among her confessed addictions, Dessen counts the Gap clearance rack, Starbucks mochas, multiple magazine subscriptions, and a penchant for black pants.

  • Dessen sometimes waxes nostalgic about her days as a waitress. "It was a great job for a writer, " she says. "Endless conversations to eavesdrop, tons of material, and fast money without ever taking work home."

  • In Just Listen, the character of Owen Armstrong was named for the young protagonist in John Irving's A Prayer for Owen Meany, as well as for Lance Armstrong, one of Dessen's proclaimed crushes.

  • Concerning her "tendency to embellish," Dessen says: "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."

  • Read More Show Less
      1. Hometown:
        Chapel Hill, NC
      1. Date of Birth:
        June 6, 1970
      2. Place of Birth:
        Evanston, Illinois
      1. Education:
        University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, degree in English.

    Read an Excerpt

    Chapter One "And finally," Jamie said as he pushed the door open, "we come to the main event. Your room." I was braced for pink. Ruffles or quilting, or maybe even appliqué. Which was probably kind of unfair, but then again, I didn't know my sister anymore, much less her decorating style. With total strangers, it had always been my policy to expect the worst. Usually they -- and those that you knew best, for that matter -- did not disappoint.Instead, the first thing I saw was green. A large, high window, on the other side of which were tall trees separating the huge backyard from that of the house that backed up to it. Everything was big about where my sister and her husband, Jamie, lived -- from the homes to the cars to the stone fence you saw first thing when you pulled into the neighborhood itself, made up of boulders that looked too enormous to ever be moved. It was like Stonehenge, but suburban. So weird. It was only as I thought this that I realized we were all still standing there in the hallway, backed up like a traffic jam. At some point Jamie, who had been leading this little tour, had stepped aside, leaving me in the doorway. Clearly, they wanted me to step in first. So I did. The room was, yes, big, with cream-colored walls. There were three other windows beneath the big one I'd first seen, although they each were covered with thin venetian blinds. To the right, I saw a double bed with a yellow comforter and matching pillows, a white blanket folded over the foot. There was a small desk, too, a chair tucked under it. The ceiling slanted on either side, meeting in a flat strip in the middle, where there was a square skylight, also covered with a venetian blind-a little square one, clearly custom made to fit. It was so matchy-matchy and odd that for a moment, I found myself just staring up at it, as if this was actually the weirdest thing about that day. "So, you've got your own bathroom," Jamie said, stepping around me, his feet making soft thuds on the carpet, which was of course spotless. In fact, the whole room smelled like paint and new carpet, just like the rest of the house. I wondered how long ago they had moved in -- a month, six months? "Right through this door. And the closet is in here, too. Weird, right? Ours is the same way. When we were building, Cora claimed it meant she would get ready faster. A theory that has yet to be proved out, I might add." Then he smiled at me, and again I tried to force a smile back. Who was this odd creature, my brother-in-law -- a term that seemed oddly fitting, considering the circumstances -- in his mountain-bike T-shirt, jeans, and funky expensive sneakers, cracking jokes in an obvious effort to ease the tension of an incredibly awkward situation? I had no idea, other than he had to be the very last person I would have expected to end up with my sister, who was so uptight she wasn't even pretending to smile at his attempts. At least I was trying. Not Cora. She was just standing in the doorway, barely over the threshold, arms crossed over her chest. She had on a sleeveless sweater -- even though it was mid-October, the house was beyond cozy, almost hot -- and I could see the definition of her biceps and triceps, every muscle seemingly tensed, the same way they had been when she'd walked into the meeting room at Poplar House two hours earlier. Then, too, it seemed like Jamie had done all the talking, both to Shayna, the head counselor, and to me while Cora remained quiet. Still, every now and again, I could feel her eyes on me, steady, as if she was studying my features, committing me to memory, or maybe just trying to figure out if there was any part of me she recognized at all. So Cora had a husband, I'd thought, staring at them as we'd sat across from each other, Shayna shuffling papers between us. I wondered if they'd had a fancy wedding, with her in a big white dress, or if they'd just eloped after she'd told him she had no family to speak of. Left to her own devices, this was the story I was sure she preferred -- that she'd just sprouted, all on her own, neither connected nor indebted to anyone else at all. "Thermostat's out in the hallway if you need to adjust it," Jamie was saying now. "Personally, I like a bit of a chill to the air, but your sister prefers it to be sweltering. So even if you turn it down, she'll most likely jack it back up within moments." Again he smiled, and I did the same. God, this was exhausting. I felt Cora shift in the doorway, but again she didn't say anything."Oh!" Jamie said, clapping his hands. "Almost forgot. The best part." He walked over to the window in the center of the wall, reaching down beneath the blind. It wasn't until he was stepping back and it was opening that I realized it was, in fact, a door. Within moments, I smelled cold air. "Come check this out."I fought the urge to look back at Cora again as I took a step, then one more, feeling my feet sink into the carpet, following him over the threshold onto a small balcony. He was standing by the railing, and I joined him, both of us looking down at the backyard. When I'd first seen it from the kitchen, I'd noticed just the basics: grass, a shed, the big patio with a grill at one end. Now, though, I could see there were rocks laid out in the grass in an oval shape, obviously deliberately, and again, I thought of Stonehenge. What was it with these rich people, a druid fixation? "It's gonna be a pond," Jamie told me as if I'd said this out loud."A pond?" I said. "Total ecosystem," he said. "Thirty-by-twenty and lined, all natural, with a waterfall. And fish. Cool, huh?"Again, I felt him look at me, expectant. "Yeah," I said, because I was a guest here. "Sounds great." He laughed. "Hear that, Cor? She doesn't think I'm crazy." I looked down at the circle again, then back at my sister. She'd come into the room, although not that far, and still had her arms crossed over her chest as she stood there, watching us. For a moment, our eyes met, and I wondered how on earth I'd ended up here, the last place I knew either one of us wanted me to be. Then she opened her mouth to speak for the first time since we'd pulled up in the driveway and all this, whatever it was, began. "It's cold," she said. "You should come inside."
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    Customer Reviews

    Average Rating 4.5
    ( 1180 )
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    See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 1185 Customer Reviews
    • Posted December 12, 2008

      I Also Recommend:

      Couldn't close the book

      This book was very good. I have read all of Sarah Dessen's books and the way she ties everything together in the end is sensational. You cannot read this book during a busy time- aka finals... That would be a big mistake. This is definitely a must read!!

      37 out of 43 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted May 18, 2009

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Beautiful and Realistic

      I loved Lock and Key. Not only is it tied with The Truth About Forever as my favorite Sarah Dessen book, it is now one of my favorite books ever. The story is narrated by Ruby. She's been living in a run-down farmhouse after her mother abandoned her. Although her living conditions are far from easy, Ruby thinks she's doing just fine. Then her living alone as a minor is discovered, and Ruby is shipped off to live with Cora, the older sister she hasn't seen in ten years. Cora's world is perfect, she has a huge house in an exclusive neighborhood, a good career as lawyer, and a nice, wealthy husband. Suddenly Ruby is surrounded by everything she never had and thought she could never have; a private school, new clothes, and a second chance. But for some reason she doesn't want any of it. Sarah Dessen's characters make this book great. There's Jamie, Ruby's optimistic brother-in-law; Nate the popular boy next door and Harriet, a jewelry making workaholic. Then there's Ruby herself. She is so layered, hiding truths about her life even from herself. Is she just a misfit in her new, priveleged life or is she something more? You'll have to read Sarah Dessen's exquisitely crafted novel to find out.

      27 out of 28 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted December 1, 2008

      I Also Recommend:


      Ruby is having a hard time adjusting to her new life. She's not used to not having to worry about the bare necessities such as food and clothing. She's not accustomed to all the money. She's not used to living with her family. <BR/>It wasn't too long ago that Ruby's mother left her for good. No one besides Ruby knew, and she was planning to keep it that way until she turned eighteen and was legally an adult. But someone found out, and now Ruby has to live with her sister and brother-in-law. But Ruby doesn't know how to deal with this new lifestyle, or with her overly friendly neighbor Nate. Ruby doesn't like depending on anyone or letting anyone really get to know her. But Nate might be more like her than she thinks. <BR/>Sarah Dessen is one of my favorite authors of all time, and she does not disappoint with Lock and Key. I really love how Sarah Dessen can really capture the emotions people like Ruby feel, the stubborn independence and loneliness. She weaves a beautiful story of the healing of a girl and the healing she returns. Like all of Sarah Dessen's novels, Lock and Key is truly amazing. I found myself glued to the pages, not able to turn them fast enough. <BR/>There is a lot of symbolism in this novel, mostly stemming from the title, and this is what makes the story so brilliant. On one hand, there is Ruby who is reluctant to unlock her past to anyone but ends up letting Nate into her heart. On the other, Nate refuses to let Ruby unlock him. The struggles of both Ruby and Nate are so similar to some of the struggles many teens face today, although in different perspectives, and I really appreciated how realistic it was. <BR/>I highly recommend Lock and Key along with all of Sarah Dessen's other novels, including The Truth about Forever, This Lullaby, and Just Listen. Fans of Deb Caletti will also enjoy this novel, as well as teens everywhere. Great read...

      16 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted January 18, 2010

      I Also Recommend:

      A wonderful vacation reading!!!

      Sarah Dessen writes in an easy understandable style. Her writing is detailed and her vocabulary is extensive. However, what make the book Lock and Key as great as it is are its characters and the different ways in which every single one connects. Each character has their unique personality traits and each one comes together with the rest in some way or another, even if they seem total opposites. Sarah Dessen also includes various types of societies and customs, ranging from the poor parts of the city, with drugs, alcohol and late renting bills, to the upper side of town with its humongous houses and their backyard lakes. This creates an environment with an immense variety of details making it easier for any kind of reader to connect with the story and feel like part of it.

      Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen is a combination between a dramatic life and a love story. Ruby, the main character is not the ordinary teenage girl with a nice family, nice school and a boy based life. She isn&#180;t stressed by the typical problems like bad grades, embarrassing parents, or popularity. Instead, her life is full of disappearances, commitment failures and even the struggle for existence. Her mother is no more than an over aged, dating drunk, who has no time to care for her daughter. However Ruby's life takes a twist when her mother leaves and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister Cora and her husband. Now, all Ruby wants to do is turn 18 and leave her new, strange life in the rich part of town.

      This book is about learning to love, to trust and to help others, as well as learning how to accept help. Lock and Key is a book full of surprises and mysteries. It brings together the themes of friendship, love and family, creating a mixture of ideas that collide to tell an excellent story. The book is about leaving the past behind and realizing that there is more to life than what meets the eye.

      What gives this story an interesting twist, is its misleading ways into a love story that is not entirely there. The first thing that one thinks by just reading the first few chapters, is that the story will totally be a romance and that would be the whole idea of the book. However, this novel includes much more than teenage love. It includes a whole different plot than one expects to read.

      7 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted November 3, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      Reviewed by Jaglvr for TeensReadToo.com

      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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>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. <BR/><BR/>Slowly, Ruby learns to adjust the new life she has been given, and develop friendships in the most unlikely places. Ruby has always kept on the fringes and avoided being indebted to anyone. But as she grows and evolves, she realizes that maybe others need her just as much as she needs them. With a class assignment to define "Family," Ruby understands that the word has many meanings, and most of them don't necessarily mean blood relations. <BR/><BR/>Sarah Dessen writes another amazing novel for young adults. LOCK AND KEY is wonderful, heartfelt story. All of the characters draw you in and make you feel like you are part of their lives. Jamie's naiveté is endearing. Cora's infertility struggles hit you in the heart. Olivia's tough girl exterior has cracks you get to see through. Harriett is just as harried as her name implies. And the perfect-seeming Nate has secrets all his own. <BR/><BR/>My only regret with this book is that I failed to move it to the top of my To Be Read pile as soon as it arrived for review. So if you have this one sitting around at home, make it the next one you read. And if you've picked it up at the book store, considering purchasing it, definitely do so the next time you are there. You won't regret it!

      7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted April 26, 2010

      Not Dessen's Best

      This was not a very good book, it felt like there was something missing the whole time I was reading it. One of the things I liked was that there were characters there from other books, like Annabel and Owen from Just Listen, Rogerson from Dreamland, Barbara Starr, Remy's mom from This Lullaby, and I'm pretty sure Bert and Kristy from The Truth About Forever.
      Dessen left out so many ending details that a normal curious person would want to know. You had to make a lot of inferences to understand it a little more. Still, it felt like there was not enough to it. Her other books were so dramatic and exciting. This one most certainly lacked all that. I recommend all the other books by Dessen except for Keeping the Moon and Dreamland. My favorites are This Lullaby and The Truth About ForEVER

      6 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted June 30, 2010

      I Also Recommend:

      GOOD ONE!

      This is funny, thought-provoking, and a great read. Lock and Key is a realistic view on life in this novel and brings together heart break, drama, and romance.
      The characters draw you in and make you feel like you are part of their lives. Ruby, Nate, Cora, Jaimie, Olivia, with all their true to life problems, are believable and endearing, be it, infertility struggles, tough girl verses push over, perfect exterior with hidden secrets and so on. I enjoyed!

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted March 27, 2009

      One of the best reads ever!

      Lock and Key is written by Sarah Dessen and is fiction. One character is named Ruby who is stubborn, independent, tall and pale, and isn't a people person. That is until she meets Nate, who is caring, popular, hardworking, blonde, and is always thinking positive. Ruby also has an older sister named Cora who is caring, smart, willing, and motherly, is short, and has dark colored hair. I cannot identify with Ruby when her mom abandons her.
      This story takes place in a suburban neighborhood on the east coast. Behind the neighborhood in a greenway which leads to a new mall where Ruby works at a jewelry cart.
      The author is trying to tell readers that if you're going through a rough time you can or should tell someone. I think this story is about family coming together, love, and friendship. The theme of this book is that you don't have to be blood related to be a family.
      When Ruby's mom left her, Ruby went to live with her sister Cora and Cora's husband Jamie. Ruby and Cora have a 10 year difference in age so when Cora leaves for college, it's just Ruby and her mother. Ruby and her mom move around a lot, so Cora couldn't come back for Ruby because their mom drinks a lot and can never keep a job. A little over a year before Ruby graduates from high school, her mom left her to take care of herself in a dirty yellow house, until the landlords find out and take her to Poplar House. Jamie (Cora's husband) and Cora took in Ruby. When she first starts a new school she didn't want to make any friends. Nate, who lives beside Jamie and Cora is an all around good guy, and drives Ruby and Gervais to school every morning. After a few months, he and Ruby are a couple. A few later weeks Ruby finds out that Nate's father physically and verbally abuses Nate, but he won't let Ruby help him.
      I think a lot of people can relate to this book because it is so real. The thing I liked about this book is that it's not like most books; it's not all about romance, but about family and friends. I didn't really like how Nate moved back to Arizona with his mom. This story was kind of predicable, but I didn't think her mom would be in rehab.
      In the end Ruby gets into the U (local college), Nate moves back to Arizona with his mom, but will he return in the fall to go to the U. with Ruby? I guess you will have to read the book to find out!

      I would give this book four stars, and would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good read.

      4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted January 4, 2009

      I Also Recommend:

      Must Read

      I was a little weary about reading this, after reading the back. This by far has to be one of Dessen's best books. In this book Dessen tells the story from the point of view of a 17 teen year old abandoned by her mother. When she is found by her landlords she is shipped off the live with her sister Cora, who she hasn't seen in ten years and is now married to a wealthy family guy. This book reveals relationships, and bonds of sisters struggling to make up for the time they have missed. This book also has a shocking suprise about a secret her mother has kept from her for years.

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted December 22, 2008

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      Simply Amazing.

      This book is a little bit of everything. Sarah Dessen doesn't just zone in onto one thing, she equally focuses on different issues going on. I love how she brings characters in from other books such as Rogerson-from Dreamland. He's also a drug dealer in here too. Kiki Sparks-she was the mom in Keeping the Moon. She's mentioned by one of the characters in here for her infomercials. Also Barbara Starr-Remi's mom in This Lullaby who's also a best selling novelist in this book. Even their personalities in here are identical to the ones displayed in their original books. This is a definite read. Try to drag it out because I never wanted it to end.

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted November 2, 2008

      It Was One Of Her Greatest Books

      This book was great! It was great how at the beginning Ruby was struggling and wouldn't let anyone into her life or didn't want help from anyone. Throughout the book the tables seem to turn. Not only does she try helping others who don't want their help, she realizes that this is the way she had been to those who were reaching out to her. It's a really great book with so much meaning.

      4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 18, 2012

      Lovely story.

      A story about the matters of the heart, friendship and most importantly, family. About living in the moment and reaching out to others. Loved every single page of the book, I just might read it again. Or maybe twice.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Anonymous

      Posted November 22, 2009

      Characterization makes for captivating read

      This is the first Sara Dessen book I have read thus far and am very impressed with her writing ability. I had heard many intriguing things about these books and decided to find out for myself. Dessen does an amazing job of characterizing all parts of the book. Each character has an amzingly unique personality. You really understand each of their personal struggles as it feels like you are going through them as well. I really enjoyed the diversity of the characters also. This story is really part of aa bigger picture in Ruby's struggle to adapt to everyday life as most know it. She is unlike most girls of her age which really captures the readers attention as she struggle to learn to trust. Ruby has a fear of owing anyone anything this Nate helps her through. Because her mother was an abusive alchoholic Ruby is able to sympathize with Nate whose father is also rather abusive. Their friendship pulls the reader in to hope that something more will happen so that they both might be able to help each other through overcoming their difficult stuggles. Dessen really creates so much suspension in their relationship making the reader want more and more just to find out what might happen. You cant put the book down once you have started reading it. Ruby's introvertedness is so individual it really lives up the book in the respect that her personal stuggle is something everyone else must also learn from. Also apparrent is the newness of a family unit in not only Ruby's life but, Cora's as well while they overcome personal struggles. Dessen portrays how unaccustomed each are to this situation or the new things they are experiencing throughout the book. For most this is not something they have been associated with before making this book so mush more interesting then others for the reason that it is not commonplace. I really appreciate situtions like these a lot more now that i have read the book, everyone has something to learn from it. Whether it is apparent to the reader in the beginning or not there is so much love that each character begins to show for one another because, they have begun to overcome their personal struggles. The diction in this book is individaul to each character which makes it significantly more interesting. This book also poses a sense of humor that intrigues the reader, Ruby's sarcasm is truly humorus. Dessen gives this story such a sweet touch even through all of the bad times it seems so endearing. The attention to detail is amazing in this book. Many things are described that provide really great sensory details to enlighten the reader. The attention to deatail is also well shown in the characters. They are shown down to the simple expressions on the characters face which is truly a valuable detail in a story like this, so as to make the reader feeel part of the story. Ruby's struggle with hanging on to the past but, also learnong to accept her new found love in her newfound family. She has many abstacles to overcome but, you go through them with her making this book all the more interesting. I definitely reccomend this story to all it holds so musch that many can appreciate. I really liked everything about this book. What made it most intriguing was that it was not in fact relateable like most other books strive to be. It is admirable that Dessen does not try to write like the other main steam authors of this time. I enjoyed it immensely and really hope to continue reading more and more of these books.

      3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted March 16, 2011


      i understand that stuff like this happens all the time and it is really sad. but there were like a billion drug scenes and they made my stomach flip flop. poorly written an the characters were under developed. not worth your money. this was on my seventh grade reading list, and i dont thonk its good for seventh graders, but thats just my opinion. if you want to read a real book, read the bible.

      2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted July 19, 2010

      I Also Recommend:

      Lock and Key is a brilliant book about love, trust and emotion.

      Lock and Key is a brilliant book about love, trust and emotion. It contains very real characters who really relate to the reader and their feelings. The book is about a 17 year old girl caller Ruby who has been abandoned by her mother and is sent to live with her long lost sister and her husband. She struggles in a new challenging school and has to deal with her " true friends ". Everything is going very wrong for Ruby until she meets the next door neighbor Nate, Nate helps Ruby find the truth about why her sister left her, her mother abandon her and how life is not as bad as it seems. Most importantly Ruby finds herself. A fantastic book that is witty, emotional, edgy and romantic . The writing bursts with life and will have you up all night. Lock and Key is defiantly a worthwhile read.

      (Freya 2010)

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted July 10, 2010


      This book is a page turner, it keeps you reading and reading!

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted June 21, 2010

      Phenomenal Story

      This book is absolutely one of my favorites. The story is simple enough to understand yet complex within the plot. It shows the struggle of a young girl adjusting to the change of being accepted when she was once neglected. Another major theme of the story is that reliving the past isn't going to get you anywhere in life. This book is perfect for those who feel like there is nothing out there for you in Life. For as long as I live, I'll never forget this book.

      2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted June 13, 2010

      more from this reviewer

      This was so great!

      I was truly surprised by how much of a page turner this book turned out to be. I really really loved it. I had only read one other Sarah Dessen book which was Dreamland, and I didn't really find it all that appealing. I'm a very big critic of books when it comes to the characters and how they make you feel. But this book pleasantly surprised me in the way that I could really connect to the characters. The story and the way that it unfolded was entirely real, and something that could really happen. Instead of jumping right into the relationships, Dessen let them develop in a way that was realistic. Which was one of the things that I loved. I also loved how everything came full circle in the end. The ending was beautiful, and yet heart wrenching (in a way, for me at least) at the same time. I would definitely reread this novel and give it about a 9 out of 10. I was captivated by her writing. Thank you Dessen.

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted June 9, 2010

      more from this reviewer

      I Also Recommend:

      One of my favorites

      So last summer I decided to go all out and read all of Sarah Dessens books after reading The Truth About Forever (I had read Just Listen before but wasn't into it)and came upon this book. THis is actually one of my favorites of hers surprisingly. I think I like Ruby character and her relationships with people. I also liked how Nate had a conflict of his own. I really don't see a lot of those in her books but just how the guys affect the heroine. I also liked the concept in this one because this is actually a usual day occurence for some people so it seemed so real. I also like Nate and Rubys relationship. I really got into this and loved it. I recommend this book to the people not usually into romance with the more action, less romance. Also, I loved how she brought characters from the other books to this one.(Not main, but they are still round characters)

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    • Posted June 7, 2010

      I Also Recommend:

      Lock and Key

      I read Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen for a project in school. This was a very good book and it really got me thinking about how good my life is and how I should appreciate it more. This is about a girl named Ruby and how she has to deal with the difficulties of living with her sister, who she hasn't talked to in five years, and moving into and axtravagant new home and a new town. I would definitely recommend this to everyone I know for it is a must read if you love suspencful novels!

      2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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