Author: Valerie Fraser Luesse
Genre: Historical Romance
Release Date: June 2, 2020
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.
Reviewer: Connie Porter Saunders
What do you do if your father has suffered a tragic accident and the girl of your dreams has gone to spend the summer in Miami? If you're fifteen, you find a way to honor your father and somehow get to your dream girl by taking a bike ride!
All of his life, Peyton Cabot has heard the story of his father's bike ride from Savannah, Georgia, to Key West, Florida when he was just fifteen years old. Peyton decides that this will now become his own story and what follows is a remarkable tale of the places he sees and the people he meets as he uses his father's old map to travel the very same route. His thoughts and reactions, along with the lessons he learns, are all vividly described and I felt like I was right there with him!
The Key to Everything is a beautifully written story about grief, young love, and the love that comes once in a lifetime. Author Valerie Fraser Luesse has written a stunning chronicle of a son's loss of his father, a wife's heartbreaking grief for her husband, and a teenager's certainty that he has already found the love of his life. Most of all, this is a story of hope and Leusse absolutely captures Peyton's hope and determination as he makes this journey to Florida and travels the road to manhood!
"You can't follow anybody else's path, like I tried to do with Daddy---like Daddy thought he had to do with Granddaddy. Somewhere along the way, you gotta draw your own map."
I recommend this book to all who enjoy inspirational novels filled with love, hope, and family. The Key to Everything is one that I won't soon forget.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell, through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Abigail Harris
A powerful novel of a boy becoming a man in the midst of grief.
The Key to Everything isn't your usual coming of age story. It spans two childhoods, a son searching for answers in his father's life after a tragedy.
I don't know that I have read any coming of age story from a boy's and mother's point of view, and I find that I liked it. And I loved the way that The Key to Everything ended, really, this novel has to be read to feel the emotion that it has in every word.
While I enjoyed the book, I did not like how there was not any spiritual content, though there are mentions of being protected by a saint.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing (Revell), through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Laura J. Davis
The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse is a delightful flavour of nostalgia that takes you on vacation without leaving the comfort of your home.
Peyton Cabot is a determined, polite young man who has lost his father in a tragic accident. He decides to take a journey on his bike, from Georgia to the Florida Keys. He does it for two reasons, to reconnect with his father, who did the same thing at his age and to reconnect with Lisa Wallace, the girl of his dreams.
And so we set off on the journey with Peyton. We see the sights, meet new friends and experience the pain that comes with riding a bike all day for such a long trip. Along the way, we learn, as Peyton does, the importance of family, love and friendship.
This poignant story clarifies that family isn't about blood relations, but about those who go out of their way to love you and make you feel wanted. And while this book didn't have a significant emphasis on God, it did bring to mind how God directs our paths before we begin to walk them.
This is a sweet romance that will leave you sighing as you close the last page. A definite keeper!
I received this book courtesy of Baker Publishing/Revell, through NetGalley.
Reviewer: Cheryl Wood
“Somewhere along the way, you have to draw your own map.”
The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse is a beautifully written, coming of age, road trip adventure with fun characters that is a perfect way to start your summer.
Peyton Cabot is not sure what to make of his family, where he does not feel like he belongs and is in love with a red-headed girl. He loses his dad in a tragic accident and decides to follow in his footsteps. Peyton takes a life-changing bike trip down the coast of Florida to Key West using his dad’s map. Along the way, he meets interesting people, people that knew his dad, people who invest in Peyton. Once he arrives in Key West, Peyton finds his love.
I loved all the characters including the children that Peyton rescues and felt like I was riding right along-side him. An uplifting, emotional story that gives us all hope that yes, there are plenty of good human beings in this world. We all must all have hope and love in our hearts.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing/Revell, through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Martha Robinson
The Key to Everything is an excellent coming-of-age, road trip adventure novel. I was hooked from the very first sentence when “. . . Peyton Cabot . . . witnessed a bittersweet kiss goodbye."
In April, 1947, the Cabot clan was gathered at the family home for their annual picnic, when tragedy struck. The setting was so authentic, you would swear you were sitting on that quilt spread under the Ghost Oak, chatting with the boy cousins and eating homemade ice cream, just like Peyton was.
Two months later, Peyton Cabot, aged fifteen, used his father’s old map to retrace his father’s legendary bicycle trip from St. Augustine to Key West. I actually kept a map of Florida beside me so I could follow along with his travels.
There were so many great characters—from Marshall, Peyton’s father, and Kate, Peyton’s mother, to Aunt Gert, Kate’s aunt, and many fascinating people Peyton met along the way who were memorable. Plus there was Peyton’s girlfriend, Lisa Wallace.
I liked the plot and the descriptive images. This is just one quote from the first day of Peyton’s trip:
“Just below Crescent Beach, . . . Peyton pulled onto the boardwalk and stopped to take it all in. The sun, rising over the sea, was bathing the morning in golden light. . . . What had his father seen when he pedaled this very road? And what was he himself expecting to find. . . ?”
This book is about family, the one you are born into and the family you create. It’s about death and handling grief. It’s about sharing memories and making new ones. And it’s about being kind and good. If you are looking for a great book to read instead of traveling to the beach this summer, grab a copy of The Key to Everything. I highly recommend it.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell, through Interviews & Reviews.
Reviewer: Rebecca Maney
"Somewhere along the way, you have to draw your own map."
Struggling over what life had just handed him, Peyton Cabot decided to put tragedy behind and move forward in the footsteps of a man that he loved as much as life itself; his father. The journey would take him all the way from Savannah, Georgia to beautiful Key West, Florida . . . . mostly from the seat of a bike; following a crude time-worn map that Marshall Cabot had drawn so many years prior, when he made the same trip, at the same age of fifteen.
This book is about what Peyton learned along the way; about life, about love, about grief, about hope, about deciding who he wanted to be . . . who he needed to be . . .. about who he already was. The author's melodic word flow and natural ability to paint her story in every color imaginable will leave readers loving these characters through the best and the worst of what life has to offer.
"Hey, Lisa . . . . what do you think we look like from the sky?"
I received a copy of this book from Baker Publishing through Interviews and Reviews. The opinions stated above are entirely my own.
Reviewer: Olivia R.
There was something tangible about this story when I picked it up. Although I read it slowly, I loved Peyton's story. As he biked across Florida I could see and smell the fresh ocean and hot sun. The people he met along the way, and his love for his parents encouraged him to know their story.
The romance was sweet. I was a bit unsure how I felt about such strong love at a young age, but it was done so well and sweet. There isn't a strong spiritual message...a lot about finding happiness, but I appreciate the hope that was found in Peyton's journey.
I recommend this beautiful story for a perfect summer read. It may make you want to go to Florida for a few weeks.
This book was provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group/Revell, through Interviews & Reviews for my honest opinion.
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