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July 5, 2020

The Key to Everything by Valerie Fraser Luesse ~ a Review

by Susan Roberts

"You can't follow any 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." (p 282)
Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review. 

The Key to Everything cover
June 2020;  Revell; 978-0800738723
audio, ebook, print (354 pages); coming of age
This beautiful coming-of-age novel takes place in the years after WWII in the South. The Key to Everything begins in Georgia at a family reunion of a rich, old family that is definitely dysfunctional.  The brothers and sisters don't get along with each other and the mother/grandmother doesn't get along with anyone.  When something tragic happens at the reunion picnic, it sends Peyton, the main character, off on a quest.

Peyton's father has returned from the war totally depressed from his experiences.  His only way to alleviate the pain is to turn to the bottle.  While drunk he had a terrible accident at the family reunion and ended up in a coma in the hospital.  Peyton and his mom, Katie, spend as much time with him as possible, while Uncle Julian, who always wanted to take control of the family money, works very hard to have his brother declared incompetent so that he can take control of the family.  When his dad dies, Peyton decides to take a trip to Key West on a bicycle just like his father did at the same age of 15.  He takes the trip in honor of his father but the people he meets on the road and the situations that he gets into, make him grow up fast.  During his long trip to Key West, he meets many interesting people, all of who show him a different facet to life as an adult.  The other reason for his bike ride is to find Lisa, the love of his life who has been sent to her aunt's home for the summer.  Will the lessons that he learns make him a stronger and wiser man?  Will he find Lisa?

This novel is beautifully written and by the end, the reader feels like they know Peyton and Lisa and also feel like they've been on that long bicycle ride to Key West.  The scenery and the heat of Florida are major parts of the story.  I loved the fact that the author added an Epilogue that is 20 years in the future so that we can how Peyton grew up and how the lessons that he learned on his bike ride affected his life.

This is a beautifully written heart-warming story full of situations and characters that you won't soon forget.  It's a story of family - the one you were born into and the one that you create with the people you love throughout your life.

“Everything worth knowing has to be learned by doin’.”

Buy The Key to Everything at Amazon


Susan Roberts lives in North Carolina when she isn't traveling. She and her husband enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their family and friends. She reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction, and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on FacebookGoodreads, or Twitter.

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