Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen is a teen novel published in 2008. The main character is the redheaded Ruby. Keeping up with what seems to be the theme with Dessen’s main characters, Ruby’s not interested in making friends or being dependent on anyone else. The proverbial lock in the title refers to Ruby’s heart. After being abandoned by her family, she refuses to let anyone in, or give anyone the chance to help– or hurt– her. But when Social Services sends her to live with her estranged older sister, Cora, and new brother-in-law at their wealthy estate, Ruby eventually learns that she doesn’t have to live her life as a “one-woman operation.”
We meet Ruby as an antisocial pothead with no direction. Her motto is to expect the worst, and never be disappointed. But throughout the story, the reader witnesses Ruby’s transformation, as she begins to form real and meaningful relationships. This is a touching book about family, friendship, and learning to trust. There are some painful themes of child abuse running throughout. But this is also a beautiful story of two sisters. And a bittersweet love story is in the mix too, with the boy-next-door, who’s hiding his own secrets and pain, albeit with a completely different approach than Ruby’s. A solid read.