Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Book review - Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen

Ruby Cooper is used to looking after herself. People, she has learned, just let you down. But when her mum abandons her completely, the authorities find out and, to her surprise, she is deposited in the lap of luxury – living with her estranged sister and brother-in-law. Ruby hasn’t seen her sister for ten years, she didn’t even know she was married. So while Cora and Jamie don’t seem to mind having her there, Ruby isn’t so sure. After all, this is the same sister who abandoned her with her unreliable mother all those years ago.
After a foiled escape attempt, Ruby slowly realises that she might just have to let people in. Her sister has a different side of the story and brother-in-law Jamie is wildly enthusiastic about whatever he does, including bringing Ruby into the family. Then there’s Nate, the boy next door. A cute, rich-boy type who seems determined to be nice to her, helping her out whether she wants him to or not. But as she slowly learns that it might be ok to let people in, she also realises that no-one’s life is perfect.

I seem to be reading a lot of Sarah Dessen recently, which is great because I love her books. Lock & Key was definitely worthy of the Dessen name. Something she seems especially good at is creating completely believable characters. Ruby has basically given up on people because of her past, she wants nothing more than to be legally an adult and completely independent, cutting all of her ties to people. Nate, the good-looking guy next door is kind, understanding, and seems to care for everyone else so much that he doesn’t really leave the time to take care of himself. I found the romance a little forced at times, but it was fun. However, it’s the people that Ruby meets along the way, the secondary characters, that made me enjoy the book so much. Down-to-earth Jamie, Cora struggling with her past, Gervais the twelve-year-old genius, Harriet the obsessive businesswoman, and especially Olivia, who takes no nonsense, but really supports her friends.

Lock & Key wasn’t my favourite by Sarah Dessen, but it was a great, entertaining read. Is that beautiful cover not enough to entice you? I’ll add that I was surprised by parts of the story, there’s more to Ruby’s journey than just coming to terms with her past and learning to accept help. The people she meets are not all as carefree as they seem at first glance, and she learns to helps them just as they help her.

* Random thing - why, when American books are translated into UK English, do they change everything but the word 'candy'? I just don't get why this seems to be the one word that always gets left in. Has anyone else noticed this, or is it just me?


  1. You should try being on the other side of it. When I read Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging, there was actually a glossery of words at that back, and I was literally checking it every chapter at least. And I'm Canadian, not American!!

  2. What's wrong with the word candy?

    And yes, I love this cover!

  3. I've never noticed that about 'candy'. Interesting! I'll look out for it. I didn't think they translated much at all when bringing US books out in the UK - I think us British people are used to American language.

    Great review. I haven't read this one but I've read most other Sarah Dessen books, and your review has made me want to read this too. Thanks! (And I agree about the cover!)

  4. Laina - haha, I'm so glad I don't have to keep checking a glossary. That must be annoying.

    Lenore- nothing's wrong with 'candy.' Or any other American words, it's just that Brits say 'sweets.' I just find it funny that no matter what else is translated - 'trashcans' into 'dustbins' or whatever - 'candy' seems to be the one word they always leave. Sorry I didn't make that clear.

    And Luisa, maybe you're right. I don't think I notice American spelling, I probably sometimes even use it!

  5. Ok - thanks for clearing that up. I was thinking of that movie with Heath Ledger and thought maybe it meant drugs in the UK!

  6. You know what annoys me? The word color. It's COLOUR, thank you very much.

  7. I didn't realise much was translated either!

    I haven't read Lock & Key yet, but I have it sat here waiting. I've saved it, because I'm always at a loss when I run out of Sarah Dessen books!

    Thanks for the review, glad you enjoyed it :)

  8. Great cover! I <3 this book!
    Lullaby is one of my favorites :)