I just read my first Sarah Dessen novel! Woo hoo! I’ve been wanting to read her for a while, and I’m glad I finally did, because I LOVED this book. I’m giving it nine stars! It was great; it had the romance, the darkness, the cuteness, the complex characters and the drama.
Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.
That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?
Non spoiler review: Like I said, I really enjoyed this book. Sarah Dessen is incredibly talented, and I can’t wait to read more of her books! Ruby was a fun character to read about, because I really got to see her grow and change throughout the novel and I loved that. This book had some great characters that are very fun to read about. At first they all seem so different, but after a while you start to see how similar they all really are. A central theme is the exploration of family and what it means, which is interesting to see from the point of view of a girl who has a very loose definition of the word. It’s a YA contemporary, and I recommend it to fans of Fangirl by Raindow Rowell. Levi kind of reminded me of Jamie, and I loved them both!
Spoiler review: I think I need to talk about how much all of these characters grew, so let me start with Ruby, since she’s the main character. I really liked Ruby. I liked her in the beginning when she was strong and independent, even though I didn’t like that she absolutely refused to develop any relationships. I think she was a little over the top, even if she explains why later. I liked her in the end, when she was just as strong only she had the family she needed, which made her happy. Of all the changes I’ve seen in these characters, I saw the most change in Ruby, and I think that change was needed. Ruby is a better person now.
Cora – I admit to misunderstanding her at first. When we were first introduced to Cora I didn’t like her. I liked Jamie right off the bat, but I didn’t like Cora. I thought she was too distant, and she didn’t make any efforts to come close to her sister when she was right in front of her face. Jamie did, but Cora didn’t. By the end, though, I loved her. I learned about her with Cora, how she was a caretaker and she wanted to get close but she didn’t think Ruby wanted to let her in. I was so happy when she ended up getting pregnant (and when Ruby got into The U).
Jamie was just a fun character who made this book happy. In the beginning it was very dark, and I really do think Jamie brought the light in. He didn’t change much, and he didn’t need to.
Harriet – Harriet kind of annoyed me. She was like Ruby in the sense that she didn’t think she needed any help even though she did, and I’m glad she finally reached out to people by the end. But it didn’t take Ruby as long as it took Harriet. Harriet took Ruby in, but by the time they got close to each other and by the time she started dating Reggie it was already the end of the book. But at least she opened up.
Nate – he’s a complicated one, just like Ruby. I love how they all seem so different from first glance, even though they’re all so much alike. Ruby leaves Nate because he won’t let her in, but how long did it take her to let him in? But she was right to leave him, Nate should understand that he can’t just take care of people without letting anyone take care of him. I’m so glad it finally got through to him, because I cannot stand his father. Cannot stand him. He was abusing his son, and there was nothing more to it. He should have said something immediately, and I know it’s hard but when that happens it’s just something you’ve got to do.
The mom – I hated her so much. Her kids should not have to do her work, she should let people in for her daughter’s sake, and she abused her children just like Nate’s dad did. If she was going to rehab, she should have told her daughter. She can’t just take off. And she didn’t even want to go to rehab, which annoys me all the more. I’m glad Ruby got out of there. If there’s something I can’t stand, it’s parents who don’t act like parents.
I also loved the lock and key metaphor. It helped me learn a lot about Ruby, as well as make me think about the world. “So many locked doors, not enough keys.” Good stuff.
The only things I can really complain about is that it was a little slow at times without too much action, and there were a lot of skipped scenes that I think were very important that she only briefly described (I mean I know it was long, but does it really matter if it’s longer if it will be better?).
Overall, I loved it and I recommend it.