Monday, April 30, 2012

Lock and Key - a review

Lock and Key
Sarah Dessen
432 pages
Viking Juvenile


Every once and a while I pick up a book without knowing anything about the author or the plot. Every once and a while--after starting said book--I start questioning what I'm reading. With Sarah Dessen's Lock and Key it started off slow.

On beginning the book I asked what everyone probably asked: "Where is Ruby's mother?" Ruby is our underage protagonist that's been abandoned by her mother. Then I found myself asking "What kind of trouble is Ruby going to get into?" Ruby moves to her rich sister's house after being abandoned. She enrolls in a rich high school, and gets all the free clothing she could ask for. That's either a recipe for a disaster or a Lifetime movie.

Then I asked myself  "How did Sarah Dessen invent a beautifully fucked up character?" Ruby is an engaging character that's been dragged down so heavily that at certain points I had heart pangs for her.

On finishing Lock and Key I asked myself "How did Sarah Dessen invent a beautifully fucked up kid and make her transition into a well-adjusted teenager so slowly that I didn't even notice it was happening?" How did I miss one huge plot element until about three fourths of my way through this book? How is this possible?

That very plot element was so well hidden and so well crafted that I hadn't noticed it was there until it happened. Or until Ruby finds out about it, at least.

This book encompasses so many difficult issues to address that last week I found myself unable to blog about it. I think this is the third rewrite of my post on Lock and Key. I can't really be sure. I've gone back and Google plot summaries to make sure nothing was missed, I've reread some parts, I've even gone as far to tell the library I'll take the damn late fee for this one if I have to.

I still have a few questions about Ruby and all the characters in this book. It doesn't end on a cliffhanger. There's resolution here to be sure, but there are still a few questions to be answered.* My main question: who the frak is Sarah Dessen and why have I not been reading her work? Short answer: I'm a blind idiot. Long complicated idiot answer: books with heavy issues tend to frighten me.

Here's the opening line of my last rewrite of this post. I couldn't find a way to fit it in so I'll just tack it on here at the end. "Sarah Dessen's Lock and Key broke part of my heart, patched it up, and held my hand while it healed." That's blurb worthy crap right there.

*This book might be my Dutch Tulip Man. If you get the reference, good for you, if you don't,  you don't.


31 comments:

  1. This book is not everyone's go-to Sarah Dessen favorite, but it's one of mine. I read it awhile ago, but I remember crying a lot. It was just incredibly touching to me. My other Dessen favorites are: This Lullaby, The Truth About Forever, and Just Listen. (I know, that's almost all her books, lol) I think you've done it great justice with this review. :)

    *Peter van Houten

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    Replies
    1. That's what I read for the most part. I can't wait to read her other work, I mean if this isn't even her at her best then I can't imagine what her good books are like.

      *excellent

      Delete
  2. I get it.

    I also get this: "...books with heavy issues tend to frighten me." So I'm thinking I won't be reading this fine piece of work any time soon. But I love your words, as always!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! Year, I wish I had know about the issues going in... I would've avoided it.

      Delete
  3. I have been reading Sarah Dessen for years - I recommend "Someone Like You," "Dreamland," and "Keeping the Moon," in that order. However, beware - "Dreamland" is definitely the heaviest of her novels. Happy reading!

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    Replies
    1. Ha! I've already got Someone Like You on reserve at the library. Good to know I'm getting the order down.

      Delete
  4. I'm going to have to apologize to all my students who said, "Oh Miss Touchette, Sarah Dessen's books are soooo good," for ignoring their sage advice. I'm reading What Happened to Goodbye now, and it's fab.

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    Replies
    1. Your students are brilliant. That one is available for ebook download from the library. I'm going to have to get through all her books this year.

      Delete
  5. Really nice post. I really love Sarah Dessen, but I have to space her books out. They each invoke different strong emotional reactions, but they are always strong. I just can't get that worked up all the time! I haven't read this one yet--the next time I am ready for a Dessen this one will be my book.

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    Replies
    1. I plan to do that. If this book is any indication I will be taking it slow. There were moments with this one where I had to put it down and back away.

      Delete
  6. Popped over here from Bookshelves of Doom. Love your review (and TFIOS reference) -- I just read and reviewed this one, too. I liked it better than Along for the Ride but maybe that's because I listened to the audiobook.

    (My review here: http://everead.blogspot.com/2012/04/lock-and-key-by-sarah-dessen.html)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! TFIOS! So glad everyone is getting it.

      There was an audiobook version of this available at my library. This being my first experience with her I decided to pass. Reading/listening can both be different experiences.

      Delete
  7. I reread my Sarah Dessen's favorite book, The Truth About Forever, a few weeks ago and it was still amazing. I loved Lock and Key, too!

    Great review! Makes me want to pick up another Sarah Dessen's book.

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    1. The Truth About Forever. That is such a good frakking title for a book.

      I think I'm in love with her.

      Delete
  8. I think Sarah Dessen's Keeping the Moon was one of the first YA books I read (this was like 6-7 years ago), so it's always had a special place in my heart. This is a great time of year to discover her books because I think they are ideal summer reads. I am hoping to re-read a few of my favorites of hers this summer--Just Listen, The Truth About Forever, and This Lullaby.

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    Replies
    1. I get that summer vibe from them as well. I don't know why. It might be the pink and blue covers.

      The Truth About Forever will probably be the next one I read.

      Delete
  9. I have been reading Sarah Dessen's books for a long time. I can't help it. My favorites are The Truth About Forever, Just Listen and Along for the Ride.

    Somehow she sneaks serious things in without you really noticing or having everything hit you at once. She's like a literary ninja!!

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    Replies
    1. Literary Ninja? Man. I should've called me blog that. Damn damn damn.

      Delete
  10. Yo comprendo. I discovered Sarah Dessen when I got an ARC of, "Whatever Happened to Goodbye?". I was blown away. I'm not much into reading contemporary YA, but I really liked how deep and subtle her story/characters are. WHtG was not as heavy as this one seems to be. There are no big twists and turns in the plot, yet, I was so invested, I did not want it to end.
    You just made me want to hunt down more a couple of more of her books.

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    1. Isn't she amazing? Her characters are so well thought out, and they aren't the girl that you normally get in these things. I haven't been this excited about reading more contemporary since TFiOS.

      Delete
  11. Thanks for reminding me about TFiOS. I read your review and thought it was a book I should get, but I forgot about it. Yesterday I found I had, "The Truth About Forever", just gathering dust in my book shelf. I just finished it and now and I want to punish myself for letting it just sit there. Wow, that book was even better than, "WHtG". I was dreading the ending, I felt a bit lonely when I was finished. I love that feeling. This book really had my heart singing and my whole being wrapped in the story. Thank you for reminding me how wonderful this author is.

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    1. You're welcome. I cannot wait to read more by her, especially The Truth About Forever since that is the favorite. Sometimes I like it when I good book hollows my heart out, it can be very cathartic.

      Delete
  12. I love her books! Glad you liked this one. Great review.

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