The Key to Everything Cover

The Key to Everything

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Valerie Fraser Luesse
Contemporary Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: June 2, 2020
Number of Pages: 352
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The Key to Everything book cover

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.

Ad: Based on true events, Luesse's moving coming-of-age story is one you won't soon forget.

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Notable Quotable: "After daybreak the Atlantic would awaken with a thunderous roil of salty spray, but for now, it was like dark glass reflecting moonbeams back into the sky."

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Clueless Gent’s Rating

5 star rating

The Key to Everything is a coming-of-age story that envelops the reader in a blanket of nostalgia, eliciting those warm and cozy sentiments that only nostalgia can bring. Clearly, the author intended this to be the case because of the moving dialogue and the delightful description that fills the pages.

The story takes place in the years immediately following World War II, when the country was still recovering from the war and many veterans were still reeling from its impact. Our teenage protagonist, Peyton Cabot, is trying to understand why his father is so different after the war, numbing his emotions with alcohol. When his father dies after a freak accident, Peyton sets off on a journey where he tries to come to terms with his father’s death, as well as look inside himself to understand where his life needs to go.

There is very little backstory in this tale, and I consider that a very good thing. The author provides the minimum amount of backstory necessary for the reader to understand how the current situation came to be. There were times when the author could have given us more backstory about certain characters, but I don’t think it would have moved the story along, so I was grateful she didn’t.

What really sets this novel apart, in my opinion, is the dialogue. The author breathes life into the characters with her use of dialogue. I think this entire novel is a textbook example of show don’t tell. It is mostly through dialogue that we discover what a character thinks and feels. Without going overboard on vernacular, the author assigns each character with individual styles of dialogue. I loved it!

The spray of the ocean, the feel of the sun on a hot summer day, and the damage a full day of bike riding can wreak on a body are all examples of the description in the story. When combined with the dialogue, the author’s use of description completely immerses the reader into the story. That’s a true statement; once I got into the story, I actually felt like I was a bystander watching the story unfold before me.

The story also has a wonderful, consistent pace to it. It wasn’t too slow, nor too fast. It was right where it needs to be.

As you can probably imagine, coming-of-age stories have some huge character arcs. This one was no different. But that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s expected. It satisfies.

Now for the best part! The author includes an epilogue that takes place about 15 years after the story ends. We get to see what happens to the characters – how everything turns out. This adds an additional layer of closure to the story, and I loved it!

I recommend this story to anyone who enjoys those warm and cozy sentiments.

I received a free copy of this book from Lone Star Book Blog Tours in exchange for my honest review.

Notable Quotable: "Though he couldn't have known, nor ever guesses, Peyton Cabot had just witnessed a bittersweet kiss goodbye." #FirstSentence

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Valerie Fraser Luesse Author Photo

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.

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
June16-26, 2020
(U.S. only)
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