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Lock and Key    by Sarah Dessen order for
Lock and Key
by Sarah Dessen
Order:  USA  Can
Viking, 2008 (2008)

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* * *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Ruby isn't surprised when her mother abandons her. After all her dad abandoned his family, and her sister left for college and never came back. She only has a few months to go before her eighteenth birthday and she thinks she'll be fine until then if she keeps her mother's delivery job so she can pay the rent.

She is not happy when her landlords report her to child welfare. Or when her sister and brother-in-law take her in. The first night there she tries to run away, but bumps into her hot young neighbor when she tries to climb the stone wall between their houses.

Suddenly Ruby is enrolled in a private academy that is as different as possible from the crowded public school that she attended until then, lives in a bedroom right out of a decorating magazine, and rides to school with her neighbor Nate, who is one of the most popular guys at the academy. Ruby knows she should be grateful but she feels like a fish out of water. Her website tycoon brother in-law Jamie is easygoing and generous, but her sister Cora is withdrawn and quiet whenever they are together.

At first Cora and Ruby avoid talking about their past. Neither wants to talk about their mother or Cora's leaving. Then Cora tells Ruby that she didn't intentionally leave her. Her mother whisked her away while she was at college. Confused and not knowing how to control her anger, Cora tries to return to her old life.

Dessen often writes of teens struggling to find their place in the world. Their situations are always different and her characters always well developed. Ruby is no exception, and Lock and Key is an excellent read.

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