The Key to Everything Review

Have you ever been drawn to a book just because of the cover? I have, several times. It was actually the cover that drew me to The Key To Everything. Don’t you agree that this is a fabulous cover!?


The Key to Everything: A Novel by [Valerie Fraser Luesse]

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.



I can’t remember the last book I read where there were so many bad things happening right in the beginning! But honestly, sometimes that is life. Bad things happen in clumps, and we just need to learn to deal with them. Which is exactly what Peyton had to do in this story. I felt bad for him – life didn’t always deal the best deck of cards. And yet even in that, Valerie Fraser Luesse managed to take him on a journey that would change his outlook on life forever.

Sometimes it can be hard to read a book where the character is so young, because you don’t feel like you can totally connect with them. And while I didn’t totally connect with Peyton’s character, I chose to enjoy the story for what it was, and found it a better reading experience once I came to that conclusion. His story is heartwarming, and held my attention through most of it. I will admit there were times of skimming, but I cannot necessarily fault the author for that. It could simply be that I wasn’t feeling the story on that particular day.

Fans of Luesse will enjoy this coming of age story. I plan to reread it again in the future to try and get a different feel for the story. Sometimes I see things I didn’t see the first time! I received a complimentary copy of this book. I was not required to write a favorable review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


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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