Lock and Key
is another of those inspirational novels describing wayward teens learning to adjust to new surroundings and becoming better individuals overall. Ruby’s seventeen, a senior at Jackson High—an inner city, overcrowded and under-funded public school—living with a deadbeat alcoholic mother. One day Ruby comes home to find that her mother left her with no money and no note of farewell. Ruby tries to make do with what she has, living alone, until her landlord finds out and calls child services. Ruby’s then placed with her elder sister, Cora, whom she hasn’t heard from since Cora left for college ten years ago. Cora’s now a lawyer and married to the founder of a new and rather popular social website that’s fairly similar to Facebook.
The story follows Ruby’s adjustment to this new lifestyle and new school, and describes her attempts to come to terms with her relationships with her sister and her mother, learning what it really means to have a family and understanding the true meaning of friendship. And of course there’s a little backyard romance with the boy next door, Nate, who underneath that calm and friendly exterior may be hiding some dark inner secrets of his own….
Yes, the book’s filled with many clichés, but what really bothered me was the format of the story, which is told from Ruby’s perspective. Initially you’re reading along, with the normal sequence of events, and then you’re suddenly brought to a scene from the past, then brought back to the present, which is actually the future if you consider where the story was at the moment of the flashback, with no real conclusion to events that had happened previously.
One interesting thing to note is that some of the other characters from Dessen's other books make guest appearances in the story. In Lock and Key
for example, Owen Armstrong and Grace the main characters in Just Listen
are briefly mentioned. It's nice that Dessen maintains a sense of continuity in this fictional world she created.
The story itself is fine, good for a read at the beach, but nothing really special, unless you really enjoy reading this genre.