Tag Archives: Social Justice Challenge

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen (Speak, 2008), 432 pages

Ruby’s used to being on her own: she doesn’t let anyone in, and she’s not surprised when people disappoint her. But when her mom disappears and Ruby is sent to live with her older sister (who she hasn’t seen in years), Cora, who gives her her own room in a huge house and sends her to private school. Plus, the neighbor guy, Nate, is very cute and also seems to like her. Ruby’s perspective is changing.

I had heard good — nay, great — things about Sarah Dessen’s books from lots of people in this blogosphere. So when a couple of them fell into my lap, I knew I’d appreciate the opportunity to read them.

And I certainly don’t regret reading my first Dessen, Lock and Key!

My impetus for picking this book up was the Social Justice Challenge; the March theme is domestic violence and child abuse. I was a little nervous to read it once I saw it on this list, because I thought it would probably be dark and oppressive. However, Dessen handles the subject gracefully. Yes, it’s a book about child abuse, but it’s also a great, readable book.

My one big complaint (and I know this doesn’t likely fall to Dessen) is that the key in the cover photo is not at all like that described in the book. I actually have a pendant identical to the one on the cover; by contrast, Ruby’s key is a real key, and one of a kind as a pendant.

The characters jump off the page, and I found it well written. Other things that kept me interested: Jewelry making, Facebook. I’m looking forward to reading more of Dessen’s work.

About the author
Sarah Dessen has published nine books. She lives in North Carolina.

Other reviews
S. Krishna’s Books
Bookshelves of Doom
Becky’s Book Reviews
Book Addiction

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I borrowed this book from a friend.


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

The Book ThiefThe Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Alfred A. Knopf, 2006), 576 pages

The Book Thief is narrated by Death. It’s set in Germany, opening in 1939. Yes, that’s World War II. Liesel Meminger, at age 9, is taken (by her mother) to live in Molching, Germany, with a foster family. On the journey, she steals her first book, even though she can’t yet read. She’s haunted by nightmares of her younger brother’s death.

Among other awards, The Book Thief was a Printz Honor Book in 2007.

I knew I was missing out by having not yet read this book. I started reading it in 2008, but it was during the read-a-thon, in the middle of the night, and I just wasn’t capable of reading a book narrated by Death in the middle of the night and still appreciating it. Alas, it’s taken me nearly two years to get back to it, but at least I finally have.

I found the voice of this book to be wholly unique. While most of the material wasn’t new to me (although a bit of the perspective I hadn’t read before), this was *not* just another Holocaust book. The writing is superb, achingly beautiful. (I feel like I use that phrase way too much …) I also found it quite interesting how most things are fully disclosed before they actually happen — the narrator “spoils” himself.

The characters, the bookish elements, the writing — all excellent. A gorgeous book with a heinous setting. I say setting because war is not really what the book is about. It’s a backdrop, sure, and hardly a page goes by without mention of it, but the book is about Liesel, about words.

My only complaint (and it’s a small one): The prologue doesn’t really fit the book. After I’d read the prologue, I was sort of dreading this book. But once I got past that, the story sucked me in and the pages flew by.

Although this book was first published in just 2006, I’d call it a classic. This is a book that will endure. If you haven’t read it yet, why not? Sure, it’s not exactly short, but it’s also a young adult book, so the pages fly by (well, the fact that it’s a great story helps that, too). You have no excuse. Read it.

I definitely want to read more of Zusak’s work — I’m particularly intrigued by his I Am the Messenger.

About the author
Markus Zusak lives in Sydney, Australia. Read an interview with Zusak at the Random House website.

Other reviews
Filling My Patch of Sky
Maw Books
So Many Books
At Home with Books
In the Shadow of Mt. TBR
Musings of a Bookish Kitty
A Chair, a Fireplace & and Tea Cozy
My Two Blessings
The Book Lady’s Blog

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I checked this book out from the library. I am an Amazon Associate and receive a small commission on sales through my affiliate links.

My impetus for finally picking this book up was the Social Justice Challenge; the January theme has been religious freedom. It’s certainly not a stretch to see how this book fits that theme.

Social Justice Challenge

The 2010 Social Justice Challenge is more than a reading challenge. As Amy said in the challenge’s introductory post:

“Reading opens new worlds to us and can sometimes expose the injustice in our own. We have all been powerfully moved by the injustice we have learned about in books and decided we wanted to host a reading project that would encourage us to learn more about these issues in the world.”

This is the crux of why we — Natasha, Amy and I — are hosting this, the Social Justice Challenge.

What is it? Each month has a different theme:

January • Religious Freedom
February • Water
March • Domestic Violence & Child Abuse
April • Hunger
May • AIDS Crisis
June • Genocide
July • Poverty
August • Illiteracy and Education
September • Modern Day Slavery
October • Homelessness & Refugees
November • Women’s Rights
December • Child Soldiers & Children in War

And each month, in addition to reading selections, we’re also challenging participants to take action, to do something to counteract the injustice we’ve been learning about and highlighting that month.

Why am I a part of the Social Justice Challenge? Well, this is why: I am passionate about social justice. I try to live intentionally, conscious of how my choices and actions impact others. My heart is broken by the pain of others, by the injustice in this world.

Join us! Check out the challenge site, which has tons of resources about the individual themes (with more to come!) (and while you’re there, subscribe!), and subscribe to the challenge Twitter account @read4justice.