Beautifully woven: "The Key to Everything" by Valerie Fraser Luesse

Cover Art

about the book....

Peyton Cabot's fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the heroic but reluctant head of a moneyed Savannah family, has come home from World War II a troubled vet, drowning his demons in bourbon and distancing himself from his son. A tragic accident shows Peyton the depths of his parents' devotion to each other but interrupts his own budding romance with the girl of his dreams.

Struggling to cope with a young life upended, Peyton makes a daring decision: He will retrace a journey his father took at fifteen, riding his bicycle from St. Augustine, Florida, all the way to Key West. Part declaration of independence, part search for self, Peyton's journey will bring him more than he ever could have imagined--namely, the key to his unknowable father, a longed-for reunion, and a calling that will shape the rest of his life.

my review....

Moments into the first chapter of "The Key to Everything", I had a strong suspicion that I'd be reaching for a tissue to furtively wipe away tears more than once during the course of the story, and my suspicions proved correct! Valerie Fraser Luesse has written a beautiful novel, one with characters that will tug on your heart strings as you walk with them through their journey. 15-yr-old Peyton is one of those characters who you can't help but admire, a youth who just has a deep vein of goodness running through their soul. 

I think one of my favourite moments of the story was actually reading the afterwards and reading that the author was inspired by an element of a true story, which served to launch her into her own tale. I love it when the actual surprising details of reality can stir our imaginations, and Luesse used this to craft one of those tales that long linger on your mind. As Peyton journeys down the coast of Florida, he has some absolutely amazing encounters, some of which may stretch reality a tad bit, but you can't help but love the story all the more for it. I dare you to pick up this novel and try to put it down anytime soon! It's simply much too entertaining to walk away from. Peyton faces down tragedy and questions of love, and in the process discovers what he's made of at the same time.  This story hearkens back to simpler times, when a pandemic wasn't on the loose and it felt safe to let your fifteen year old embark on their own on a journey of self-discovery. Luesse has written a novel that I really just needed to read right now!

"The Key to Everything" is another fabulous story from the fertile mind of Luesse, and I highly recommend it. The plot will captivate you from start to finish, while the characters will capture your heart at the same time. And if you choose to read this novel without a tissue box close at hand - well, I warned you, didn't I? 5 out of 5 stars.

Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc.

about the author....

Valerie Fraser Luesse
Valerie Fraser Luesse is the bestselling author of Missing Isaac and Almost Home, as well as an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently senior travel editor. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse received the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society for her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana. A graduate of Auburn University and Baylor University, she lives in Birmingham, Alabama, with her husband, Dave.

Buy now from