Lock and Key is told from the point- of- view of Ruby, a spunky senior in high school. Ruby and her mom live together in a barely getting by way of life, working for odd jobs such as luggage returnee at the airport. Problem is, Ruby’s mom in unpredictable. They are always moving all over the place, finding new odd jobs, and Ruby’s mom finding new men to date. It isn’t unusual for her mom to go out with men for many long days, but it is unusual when Ruby’s mom suddenly disappears for an extended period of time. Of course, Ruby being the faithful daughter she is, she says at their small, beat-up yellow house and toughs out the bills, mold, and turned off electricity. Eventually, the landlords get suspicious of her act and shut her down. Ruby soon finds herself being shipped off to the last place she wants to be… Her sister Cora’s house. Cora abandoned Ruby and her mother about six years ago when she went off to college to forget about the abusive life she had left behind. So when Ruby once again appeared on her front porch, she was a little resistant to accept her into her “new” family- Jamie and her living in a stereotypical suburban neighborhood living a perfect cookie cutter life. When Ruby detects Cora’s resistant the moment she steps into their tidy house, she attempts to make a break for it. That’s when she meets Nate, her overly friendly next-door neighbor. But of course, Ruby doesn’t trust him. She doesn’t trust anyone in this new life that was unexpectedly thrown upon her. Although she tried to push away these persistently caring people, somewhere between being able to attend a fancy new private school and working on her English assignment on figuring out a signal definition of the word family, her morning carpools, and getting her own fish, Ruby learns to lower her defenses. She starts to reconnect with her long lost sister, make friends she didn’t know she had the ability to make, and is able to get closer to Nate. As she is going about these actions, she learns that Nate might have secrets of his own to unlock, and starts her mission to figure out what. From an abusive family herself, Ruby isn’t surprised when she figures out Nate is struggling with his father’s controlling, abusive grip. Trouble is, Nate finds unlocking the lock in his life too personal for even his girlfriend. He tells Ruby that if she can’t let it go, they won’t be able to together. Ruby, not able to give up on Nate, doesn’t promise anything. In the end of the year, Ruby finishes up her project on family, and learns that there one as many families in their lives. This helps her except that her mother isn’t returning, and she drops her key necklace into the pond to prove she is over that particular family.