Ruby has been fending for herself ever since her now-estranged sister left for college; her mother has done little to help Ruby. Ruby goes to school, feeds herself, and pretty much keeps to herself most of the time. She has only a few friends at school, and has become a loner because of the many times she has moved around with her mother.
One day, Ruby wakes up and her mother is just...gone. Thinking that this will be like all the other times and her mother will be back later, probably hung over and exhausted, Ruby does not think much of it until her mother does not come back to the house for weeks. Being a senior in high school who's almost 18, Ruby tries to ride out the last few months until she does turn 18 and can legally live on her own--after all, she's been looking after herself for quite some time now. Taking evasive measures and dodging the landlords and other people who come knocking, Ruby manages to keep her mother's disaperance a secret and keep her mother's job of delivering lost luggage back to their owners, for a while until the fateful day when the landlords found out just how horrible her living conditions were: the dryer had died, the outside needed some mending (which was why they came in the first place), and the house was just filthy. After learning that Ruby's mother had fled, the landlords reported Ruby's situation to the police and child care services, and Ruby was wisked off to live with her sister.
Needless to say, not having seen her older sister for several years, it was quite awkward for Ruby. Since the last time the sisters had seen each other, Cora has become a sucessful lawyer and married a loving guy, and was not living in run down homes or appartments like she had with Ruby when they were younger, but rather, in a spacious house in a good neighborhood. Ruby gets to know her surroundings, and eventually even becomes aquainted with Nate, her sister's neighbor, who seems like a nice kid and always offers her a ride to and from school.
Even though Ruby can now live comfortably and not have to flee landlords every couple of months as she had with her mother, Ruby cannot help but slip into her "bad girl" and loner habbits that she had aquired from her friends from her previous school before moving in with Cora and enrolling in Perkins Day. Before long, she is sneaking back to her old school to drink and smoke pot with her old buddies. But when her perception that her old friends are the good ones is shattered by several shell-shocking events, Ruby is reforced to think her life. Sure, she was not planning to stay long in this overly-perfect neighborhood in such an awkward situation, but isn't it better than what she had to endure before? Are her new friends, like Nate, and her sister and her husband the ones she should be trusting now? After all, they're the ones who have been looking out for her like now one else had ever done for her before. Can Ruby get her life back into shape? Can she overcome past rifts and learn that there are good things in life that she could find if she would just open her eyes a bit more?
Lock and Key was a moving story in which Ruby learned that opening her ears and her heart could help induce great changes. Ruby comes out of her shell and grows to develop new morals and starts counting her blessings, realizing just how much better off she is and that change is not always bad.
I loved Lock and Key and it is definitely one of my favorite books by Sarah Dessen now! Her characters are amazingly well developed and distinct as usual and her story is just so honest and realistic that is draws you in, pulls a few heartstrings, and keeps you hooked until the very last page! A must read for all Sarah Dessen fans!