Tag Archive | 2008

Book Review: Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Lock and Key cover

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“Ruby can take care of herself.

She’s used to counting on no one and answering to nobody. But all of that changes when her mother vanishes and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister, Cora. Now Ruby’s got her own room in a fabulous new house, she’s going to private school, and—for the first time—feeling as if she has a future. Plus, there’s the adorable and sweet boy next door, Nate. Everything should be perfect. So why is Ruby so wary? And why is Nate keeping her at a distance? Ruby soon comes to realize that sometimes, in order to save yourself, you’ve got to reach out to someone else.”

I don’t know why I was so hesitant to Dessen’s books. I guess I let the covers fool me? What I thought was going to be a traditional YA romance turned out to be full of heart and struggles. I fell into this book – as literarily as I could, and finished it in three days (if that gives any indication). 

Lock and Key is amazing for the fact that it covers abuse, many different kinds at that. Not enough YA books cover these true harsh realities that kids these day face and need resources to help them evolve through. It’s why YA is important. These are outlets for kids to learn (and adults too-YA doesn’t judge it’s just meant to be read), gather strength or take what can from something dark. The rest can go into any number of way, but it’s that beginning, that start that there can be hope and help – THAT is the important message. 

I also loved how Ruby was strong the entire time. Her personality wasn’t likeable in the beginning, but then she grows on you the more the reader learns about her. Dessen’s writing style is also strategic, making this book not only engaging but she left me wanting more. It’s not in a thriller kind of sense. There are secrets littered throughout the pages and Dessen patiently leaves breadcrumbs in order for us to keep reading chapter after chapter. It’s a standout skill and I’m impressed with her writing. 

I will no longer shy away from Dessen’s book. Now I have seen the light and felt the feels. I can’t wait to read more of her work! 

Stolen by Vivian Vande Velde

Stolen cover

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“The same day that the villagers of Thornstowe finally hunt down a witch with a reputation for stealing children, a 12-year-old appears in the woods with no memory of her past. Is there a connection between Isabelle, the girl who doesn’t know who she is, and the girl the witch stole six years earlier? One of the few things Isabelle remembers is a chant that keeps running through her head: 

Old as dirt,

dirty as dirt.

Ugly as sin,

mean as sin.

Don’t let the old witch catch you!

Could Isabelle have been stolen by the old witch of the woods, or has she lost her memory as the result of an accident? And what about the baby the witch stole right before the villagers attacked? Did either the witch or the baby survive the fire the villagers set?”

What I see:  This short middle grade book was thrilling! The author takes the reader on a tale in the past that makes a complete 180 towards the end. It’s stunning, fantastic and I didn’t see the ending coming! For its age range it’s easy to read and engaging enough to keep them turning the pages.

It’s a bit longer than short story length, but I was able to finish it in a day. It’s simple, well executed and I personal feel well written. It doesn’t fit the mould and I liked that. It’s perfect for autumn and I’m so glad my reading challenge helped me come across such a spooky kind of tale!