Written By: Sarah Dessen.
Synopsis: Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.
That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?
My Thoughts: By now, you know (or well at least you should know) that Sarah Dessen is one of my new favorite authors. Her stories are always meaningful and well written. Her subject matters might not always be completely new and unheard of, but her characters and their voices are always totally honest and unique. Her books are never melodramatic or exaggerated and she never throws anything into her stories for shock value as so many other YA authors tend to do. The stories are always real and honest, written about real people with real emotion which is what makes them all so powerful. Lock & Key is the prime example of this.If Annabel Greene was the girl who had everything (Just Listen), Ruby Cooper was the girl who had… nothing. Okay well maybe not nothing, I mean she had an absentee father, a co-dependent addict for mother (also named Ruby) and, as for as Ruby is concerned, a sister who wanted absolutely nothing to do with her. She had a yellow house, with no electricity or running water in the kitchen and she also had a job that she took over for her mother when she abandoned her. Every teenage girl’s dream, right?
Ruby Cooper is a very guarded young girl who though she could do it all on her own. She never asked for help, hell she couldn’t even realize or admit that she needed help at all. She was also a bit of a control freak who thought that she could figure everything out on her own. Ruby had “friends” but she never let them get too close, always convinced that they would either let her down or just pack up and leave the same way her father, older sister and mother had. The farther away she kept people, the less likely it was that they would be able to hurt her like she had been so many other times in the past. Even when she is taken in by her sister, Cora, and brother in law Jamie, she has trouble processing the fact that he sister wanted her there (and always had) and it was not just out of obligation.
Because she did not have the typical lifestyle growing up, Cora worked extremely hard to make sure that she could create that “perfect” life she missed out on. In my opinion and my experience, there is absolutely nothing like the bond between sisters and I feel like Cora shares my sentiments. From the minute Ruby showed back up in her life, she wanted to share everything she had accomplished with her. It was as if that was the day that Cora had been waiting for ever since she went off to college 10 years prior. In many ways, I feel like everything Cora did was because she knew (even if it was subconsciously) that one day she would have Ruby in her life again. The problem was the Ruby couldn’t see any of this, when she showed up she felt as though Cora was short and cold with her because she did not want her there, but really, it is because Cora was scared and nervous just as Ruby was, and wanted everything to be perfect.Jamie was something special. He embraced Ruby – no questions asked. As soon as she stepped into his life he viewed her as nothing other than family. To him, Ruby wasn’t just Cora’s little sister, she was his sister too. Ruby never thought about her future, let alone the fact that she could go to college and live a life different than the one she grew up with, she never realized her potential… Until Jamie, that is. He told her she was going to college and did everything in his power to ensure that she could. That is just one of the things that made Jamie not only an amazing person, but showed us just how devoted he was to Cora. From the day he met her, he made it his mission to give her everything she did not have as a child and not just material things (like beautiful house he built for her) either. He wanted to give her moments and experiences, like silly Christmas cards with matching sweaters (including one for Roscoe, the dog) and huge holiday get togethers with huge family. He wanted to show her that she is not her past and they could create a family all of their own.Nate Cross… At first glance, he is the gorgeous, All American, swim team captain, who lives in a beautiful home with his father. He is also the nicest person you will ever meet. He is the type of guy who gives rides to complete strangers trying to hop over his fence in the middle of the night, the type of guy who picks you up in the middle of the forest when you are passed out drunk…and doesn’t judge you for it. Once you get to know him and you start peeling back the layers, you find out that there is more to Nate than anyone would have ever guessed. Although he is not my favorite of Sarah Dessen’s, many men, he is up there and for good reason.
Ruby Cooper senior is a narcissist and the first indication of this is the fact that instead of giving her child her own name and own identity, she names her after herself. She was also physically, emotionally and mentally abusive… Someone who should have never had kids. I could go on and on, but I think it is better for you to witness this monstrosity first hand.Usually in YA novels, it is always about the girl getting the boy or, the boy swooping in to save the girl from herself and her ever so tragic life. However, in this story, that was not the case. It was about Ruby’s growth and her essentially saving herself. It was about family, her family, and realizing that word “family” did not just refer to a mother and a father and the people connected to you by blood. It was about her sister, Cora, who always loved her, no matter what she lead to believe by her mother. It was about Jamie who opened up his home and his heart to her, and showed Ruby that that was where she had always belonged and that there would always be a place for her with them. It was about Nate, showing her that despite what a person has done in their past, that people can still be good at heart, and that real friends are the people who are there for you, even when you don’t want them to be. It was also about Olivia, who showed her that through the good and the bad, family was always there to support you no matter what.I don’t think that any review I write could ever do this story justice. You should all just read it for yourself. Obviously, this one gets 5 Stars.
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