Estelle: Lock and Key By Sarah Dessen
Target Audience: Young Adult
Why I picked it up: Trying to read a bunch of Dessen.
Format: Hardcover borrowed from the library.
Summary: At a young age, Ruby is forced to take charge of her life due to her M.I.A. and irresponsible mother. When her mom disappears and the landlords find out, Ruby begrudgingly reunites with her sister, whom she hasn’t seen in many years.
This was the second Sarah Dessen book I’ve read (the first being Keeping the Moon
, which I absolutely loved). For a long time, Ruby thought she was fooling the world into thinking her life was just fine. Somehow ignoring the fact that electricity wasn’t working and water wasn’t running. The reality: her mom has split, she can’t keep up with the bills, and pretty suddenly she finds herself living with her sister and husband in a huge house and unlimited amounts of money. The girls have not seen each other since Cora left for college. Now she is a successful lawyer married to Jamie, a guy she met in college who also has a prosperous career.
It’s heartbreaking because when the sisters were younger Cora took the brunt of her mother’s behavior to protect Ruby and somewhere along the way they lost that. Their sibling dynamics, in addition to Ruby’s “friendship” with the boy-next-door, Nate (who has problems of his own), really force Ruby to examine her past and figure out how to stumble forward.
What made this book so addicting for me was the gradual change in all of the characters and the realization that the word “family” means many things to different people. Sometimes that is a lot to deal with, especially for Ruby and Cora, who grew up with a mother who was destructive in a number of ways.
Dessen does a great job of making these characters and their feelings tangible and by the final chapters, I couldn’t stop picking up the book during my work day. I was satisfied that she left readers with realistic conclusions and most of all, hope.