Rad Reads

Lock and Key By Sarah Dessen

All right, by now some of you are in school and are being forced to read some rather boring textbooks and endeavor in some pretty mundane homework assignments.  But just because you have a list of school tasks at hand, it doesn’t mean you can’t find some time for yourself to read a fantastic book, like Sara Dessen’s Lock and Key!

Let’s refresh. 

Ruby is a child of a neglectful mother who happens to be her own namesake.  After two months, Ruby’s mother still hasn’t returned from wherever she disappeared to.  Social services steps in and whisks Ruby away to live with her somewhat estranged sister, Cora, and her husband, Jamie.

The change for Ruby is extraordinary.  From a small yellow home with little hot water and electricity to a mansion in a posh neighborhood, she longs for the simplicity of her life prior to the revelation of her terrible living situation. 

Ruby fights to understand where she fits in a new school full of privileged rich kids.  She struggles to maintain her independence as her new ‘family’ attempts to reach out and help her. 

Slowly Ruby opens herself up to the possibility of friends and family.  She meets Nate, her neighbor, and feels a certain intimacy with him and learns that they share similar histories of abuse.   Although they share a few kisses, she sees what she used to be like as Nate pulls away the closer Ruby looks into his own home life.

As each friend touches Ruby, Ruby sees that she touches them as well.  She notes that in opening yourself up you welcome powerful emotions, both good and bad, and that life is enhanced by the relationships you create.  She wears her key around her neck, but learns to leave herself open and let others in where no one has ever been before.

Chattin’ time!

1. If you were Ruby, do you think it would be easy to go from living in the small yellow house to living in the mammoth, ritzy home of Jamie and Cora?  How would you react to being so independent to so dependent?

GL EmilyElaine: 
Because I am fortunate not to have been in Ruby’s shoes ever, I think it would be pretty great to go from living on my own in a house with little comforts to this amazing home with warm water and clean clothes.  After taking care of myself for so long and working on top of school, I’d be relieved to let others take care of everything for me.  Not to mention there is a cute neighbor right out back.

2. What was you initial opinion of Cora?  By the end, how did you feel about her?

GL EmilyElaine: 
Initially I thought Cora didn’t want Ruby there at all, which irked me a bit.  Cora had moved on with her life and no longer wanted a blast from her past to remind her of what she left behind—understandable to a point.  But I did begin to see that there was something between the two girls that was unspoken.  Cora had taken such good care of Ruby prior to her leaving for college.  I understood that their mother had mucked up the correspondence and that Cora didn’t purposely leave Ruby. I thought it was great Ruby and her could have an understanding and not speak about the differences between Jamie’s family and the one Cora and Ruby shared.  I never disliked Cora, but by the end I really loved her.

3. Do you think if Ruby would have tried harder, she could have helped Nate earlier?

GL EmilyElaine:
I do and I don’t.  Nate opened up as much as he was able to at that point.  But he hadn’t hit a point where he admitted his situation was beyond his control.  If Ruby persisted she may have been able to get Nate help, but this conversation stuff was new to her too.  Not to mention, Nate would just continue to push her away.  So in the end she ably assisted him, but at that point he was ready to get help.

4. If you were Ruby, would you contact your mother again?

GL EmilyElaine: 
Good question.  I don’t know.  I guess I would need closure, but at that point, I am not sure if I’d want my mother in my life.  She is getting help, but it might be too little too late

5. How does this book compare to other Sarah Dessen books?

GL EmilyElaine:
This is the first book of hers I read!  So I really want to know what you think.  Recommend some to me!

Coming soon, the September Book Club calendar!

—Emily Capp
8/31/2008 7:25:00 AM
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