Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lock and Key

Dessen, Sarah. 2008. LOCK AND KEY. New York: Viking. ISBN 9780399251061 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

Ruby’s family is the picture book of dysfunctional. Her parents are long divorced and she has not seen her father in years. Her mother is somewhat abusive with mental problems. Her older sister Cora took off for college when Ruby was in elementary school and has not been heard from in ten years. Her mother has disappeared, leaving Ruby with no money. She attempts to live on her own but the landlords eventually find out and report it to social services and Ruby is sent to live with her affluent sister and brother-in-law Jamie. The adjustment does not come easy for Ruby—a private school, her own large room, new clothes, people caring about where she goes and what she does is hard to accept. Only her next-door-neighbor Nate seems compatible, especially as Ruby discovers he has secrets of his own. As Cora shares family secrets with Ruby, the troubled teen has to accept that what she thought was reality was really a lie and that she does have people who care for her. As Ruby goes on a quest to find her mother and discover her mother’s secrets, she and Nate forge a friendship that is necessary for both of them to survive.

Dessen is known for her strong female characters and LOCK AND KEY is no exception. The novel is a story of hope and redemption and the real meaning of family.

This book is a must for high school libraries. Use it for book talks and teen book groups. Teen readers can research the local resources available for families in difficult circumstances.

Other books written by Sarah Dessen:
SOMEONE LIKE YOU. ISBN 9780142410974
KEEPING THE MOON. ISBN 9780142401767
JUST LISTEN. ISBN 9780142410974

By Janet Hilbun

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