Key To Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse

June 25, 2020

The Key to Everything
by Valerie Fraser Luesse
Publisher: Revell
Genre: Fiction

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 Savahhah 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.

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 longed-for reunion, and a calling that will shape the rest of his life.

My Thoughts 

What an amazing story by Valerie Fraser Luesse. The way she writes just completely brings the book to life. You definitely feel transported to that time frame and location.  The cover of this book completely captivated me and the fact that it was mostly set in in my home state of Florida sold me on it. This story is absolutely beautiful. 

The bulk of the story although mainly about Peyton and his journey to adulthood but it also interweaves the story of his mother Kate. This was done flawlessly. There are other characters we meet and they are great in shaping the story as well but I will keep those for you to find them as you are reading and focus on mainly Peyton. 

Since Peyton was young he has heard the story of his father riding his bike from St. Augustine to Key West and he tells his cousins that one day he would like to do the same. So the whole time he has this wild idea on the back of his mind.  His dad has a tragic freak accident and after having surgery, he wakes up and lets Kate knows that its time for Peyton to have an actual summer and head to St. Augustine to stay with Aunt Gert. There he learns a lot more about his father's past and how his mother and dad fell in love. He learns to drive a boat, get his boating license and  all the time feeling this tug of taking that bike route his dad did years ago. Unfortunately Kate (Peyton's mom) comes to St. Augustine with the news that his dad has passed on so begins the bike journey for young Peyton.

First of all it was refreshing to see a young man of almost sixteen show such maturity in everything he does. I know this something that comes with that generation and its sad we don't see it more often in this day and age so I loved that because its the way we are raising our boys to be so focused on themselves but to learn from others. Peyton does that. Every person he encounters on his trek, he learns something from them. Every challenge he faces, he learns something from it as well. He builds this incredible network of people as he travels. He also sees what his father must have seen when he was on the journey and feels like he is starting to understand him a little more. I love this part from the book when he realizes what the purpose of the trip was:

" I don't think it makes sense to spend a lotta time worryin' about what other people think as long as you do what you believe is right. Everybody has a true them that they're meant to be."

While Peyton is traveling down to Key West, his mom is coming to terms of losing the love of her life. It is heartbreaking and you feel her loss. I think the author did a great job at describing the feeling of loss. 

This story is more than just his journey there is also a love interest in this story. Lisa is the girl of  Peyton dreams. It was beautiful to see how their love story unfolds and how it mimics the love story between Peyton's parents. If you are like me (a greedy reader) this story has a lovely epilogue that gives you a complete ending. 

The story is definitely a clean read and in no way is it overly preachy or full of faith filled moments. I am a little disappointed in that just because its a book from a Christian publishing company so you would think it would have some aspect of Christianity in it but it did not. That being said it was an excellent book and I highly recommend it!

FTC Disclosure: I received this book as part of the Revell Reads Program. I was not required to post a positive review. All thoughts and opinions are my own! I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC  Associates Program and the Christian Book Affiliates program.

My Rating:  5 stars / loved it

(Affiliate Links)

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. To know more information on her books visit her website:

Post a Comment