THE KEY TO EVERYTHING
Valerie Fraser Luesse
Contemporary Christian Romance
Date of Publication: June 2, 2020
Number of Pages: 352
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Based on a true story, Valerie Fraser Luesse’s new novel takes readers on an incredible journey of self-discovery. The poignant prose, enchanting characters, and captivating settings in The Key to Everything make this a moving story that readers won’t soon forget.
Peyton Cabot’s fifteenth year will be a painful and transformative one. His father, the 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. When a tragic accident separates Peyton from his parents, and the girl of his dreams seems out of reach, he struggles to cope with a young life upended.
Pushed to his limit, Peyton makes a daring decision: he will retrace a slice of the journey his father took at fifteen by riding his bicycle all the way from St. Augustine to Key West, Florida. Part loving tribute, part search for self, Peyton’s journey will unlock more than he ever could have imagined, including the key to his distant father, a calling that will shape the rest of his life, and the realization that he’s willing to risk absolutely everything for the girl he loves.
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In this book, that is part epic tale and part a story of self-discovery, I enjoyed taking that journey from St. Augustine to Key West with Peyton. Forces that he doesn’t even quite understand at first, prod him to set out to retrace the route that his father had taken long before Peyton was born. But the reason becomes clear in the end.
This type of story – coming of age – appeals to me, so that’s the first reason I was eager to read the book. The second reason was because many moons ago, my brother and I had talked about taking a long bicycle ride. Not as long as Peyton’s, but long enough that it was going to be a challenge. My brother and I chickened out on our venture, but Peyton did not.
I’m so glad he didn’t.
Now we can all enjoy this wonderful recounting of his adventure, complete with mishaps, joyous moments, and wonderful characters who help him along the way.
Of the supporting cast, I liked Aunt Gert the best. She’s such a delightful character, and it was fun to see her often irreverent interactions with Peyton, as well as her friend, Finn. She has grace and humor and wisdom, and I couldn’t control my laughter when she told Peyton, “Oh, don’t kill yourself, honey. You’ll miss the sunset.”
She tossed that quip out after she’d been sharing some details of his parent’s relationship that Peyton found incredibly embarrassing to hear. That led him to say that if she didn’t stop, he’d throw himself off the pier.
At another point, she counsels him, “Everything worth knowing has to be learned by doin’.”
Please, can I have my very own Aunt Gert?
This is definitely a sweet romance story, with the relationship of Peyton’s parents mirroring his relationship with Lisa, the girl he loves. And the girl he sets out to find in Key West, just like his father made the trip to find his true love.
Sometimes the book reads like a travelogue or a series of journal entries. But for me, that didn’t take away my enjoyment. Right from the beginning, I was truly invested in Peyton, and the people in his life, and I was happy to go along for his ride.
Check out this cool book Trailer!
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.
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One Winner: Copy of The Key to Everything, Necklace, $25 B&N Gift Card;
Two Winners: Copy of The Key to Everything + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
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