Title: The Key to Everything
Author: Valerie Fraser Luesse
Genre: Christian, Coming of Age, Historical, Fiction
Synopsis: 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 WWII 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, Lisa Wallace.
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 all the way to Key West, Florida. 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 reunion with Lisa, and a calling that will shape the rest of his life.
Through poignant prose and characters so real you’ll be sure you know them, Valerie Fraser Luesse transports you to the storied Atlantic coast for a unique coming-of-age story you won’t soon forget.
The Key to everything…was so much more than I thought it would be based on the description. Valerie Fraser Luesse crafted a story that caused me to dream; it was so compelling. From the descriptions of the Florida coast where I felt like I could see the waves and smell the beautiful ocean, to Payton’s journey on his bike, the story was told in a very immersing way. The character’s unique personalities came through in the way Valerie Fraser Luesse wrote their conversations. I enjoyed reading about them and getting to know them; and the ending rounded out and gave closure to the whole story.
This was a wonderful coming-of-age story that grabbed me from the first page and made me dream. I highly recommend this wonderful story. I give it 5 out of 5 stars for the well-developed characters, the show me style writing, and for the vivid descriptions of the thoughts, feelings, and locations of the characters.
*I volunteered to read this story in return for my honest feedback. The thoughts and opinions expressed within are my own.
About the Author
Valerie Fraser Luesse is an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently a senior travel editor. Her work has been anthologized in the audio collection Southern Voices and in A Glimpse of Heaven, an essay collection featuring works by C. S. Lewis, Randy Alcorn, John Wesley, and others. As a freelance writer and editor, she was the lead writer for Southern Living 50 Years: A Celebration of People, Places, and Culture. Specializing in stories about unique pockets of Southern culture, Luesse has published major pieces on the Gulf Coast, the Mississippi Delta, Louisiana’s Acadian Prairie, and the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana won the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society. Luesse earned her bachelor’s degree in English at Auburn University in Auburn, Alabama, and her master’s degree in English at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She grew up in Harpersville, Alabama, a rural community in Shelby County, and now lives in Birmingham.