Saturday, January 6, 2018


Genre: Southern Fiction / Christian / Coming of Age
Publisher: Revell
Date of Publication: January 2, 2018
Pages: 352

Isaac believed in luck. But from Pete’s point of view, Isaac’s luck had all run out.

When Pete McLean loses his father in the summer of 1962, his friend Isaac is one of the few people he can lean on. Though their worlds are as different as black and white, friendship knows no color. So when Isaac suddenly goes missing, Pete is determined to find out what happened—no matter what it costs him. His quest will lead him into parts of town that he knows only through rumors and introduce him to a girl who will change his life. What they discover together will change the small Southern town of Glory, Alabama—forever.

With vivid descriptions, palpable atmosphere, and unforgettable characters, debut novelist Valerie Fraser Luesse breathes life into the rural South of the 1960s—a place where ordinary people struggle to find their footing in a social landscape that is shifting beneath their feet.

“Valerie Fraser Luesse’s beautiful story reveals the human heart that always beats beneath the headlines. In the process, she movingly illuminates not only the spirit of a special region but the soul of every human being who ever dared to care. Missing Isaac will break—and then heal—your heart.”  ~ J. I. Baker, journalist and author of The Empty Glass 

“Welcome debut novelist Valerie Fraser Luesse to the legions of gifted Southern writers before her. Missing Isaac is the first of what we hope will be many more tales from this talented writer.” ~Nancy Dorman-Hickson, coauthor of Diplomacy and Diamonds and a former editor for Progressive Farmer and Southern Living magazines

“Valerie Luesse has an ear for dialogue, an eye for detail, and a profound gift for storytelling. She breathes life into these colorful Southern characters and this quirky Alabama town from the first page.” ~ Sid Evans, editor-in-chief of Southern Living magazine

My Review: 

Rating: 4 of 5 stars
Set in the 1960s in rural Alabama, Missing Isaac by Valerie Fraser Luesse is a quick-read that's rich in content, imagery, and emotionally-filled southern dialect. The book opens as young Pete's father, Jack, dies in a tragic farming accident, and as a result, Pete develops a stronger friendship with Jack's farmhand, Isaac. In a cruel twist of fate and soon after his father's death, Isaac goes missing thus doubling Pete's sorrow. Throughout the story, we learn more about Pete, his family, and a young girl, Dovey, who befriends Pete during his time of grief. As Peter matures, so does his relationship with Dovey; however, there's tension due to the difference in their respective families' socioeconomic status. All the while, Pete (and his grandfather) are working to find Isaac. The idyllic scenery serves as a contrasting backdrop for the dark mystery surrounding Isaac, race and social relations, and challenges of the farming community. However, these combined elements help push the wonderfully-written story forward for the reader. 

I wouldn't change much, but I do wish that the author would have lent some more time to Jack, Peter's father, and how Pete managed his grief. It seemed that Pete's grief for his father got lost because he was so preoccupied with locating Isaac. Additionally, there are some parts of the book where the author is focused on how all the events are affecting Pete, and there could have been more plot development regarding what actually happened to Isaac. No spoilers, but it is pretty easy to sort out what happens to the titular character. The author does a great job of foreshadowing. 

Luesse paints a beautiful picture with words. While reading, I felt like I was transported to the deep South during that tumultuous time. As a consumer of media, I have enjoyed many books that have been transformed into movies. These movies often provide more vivid visuals to the novels. In her debut novel, Luesse has crafted a story that reads smoothly and creates realistic imagery that you might enjoy on screen, making this story a reader's delight!

Recommendation: Readers of this book will enjoy a mystery (What happened to Isaac?), romance (Will Pete and Dovey's families allow them to be together?), and drama (Ugh, the Highlands, those entitled socialites!) All of this rolled into a coming-of-age novel makes for a easily digestible book. (I finished in just under a week.) Because of its diversity, there's something in it that just about anyone can relate to. If you're looking for a beautifully-written book that will evoke emotion and touch your soul, pick up a copy of Missing Isaac today. Or enter the giveaway to win a free copy below. 

Until next time ... Read on! 

Buy Now: 

About the Author: 
Valerie Fraser Luesse is an award-winning writer and a senior travel editor for Southern Living. 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. She lives in Alabama.

Connect with Valerie: Website | Facebook 

Grand Prize: Print Copy of Missing Isaac, Print Copy of Southern Living Annual Recipes 2017, Handmade Leather Journal (9"x5")
2nd Prize: Copy of Missing Isaac + $25 Barnes & Noble Gift Card
3rd Prize: Copy of Missing Isaac + $10 Starbucks Gift Card
January 2-11, 2018
(U.S. Only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

More Blogs on this Tour:

03-Jan Review Storeybook Reviews
04-Jan Top 15 List Tangled in Text
05-Jan Excerpt Texan Girl Reads
06-Jan Review A Page Before Bedtime (You are here.)
07-Jan Guest Post Books and Broomsticks
08-Jan Review Reading by Moonlight
09-Jan Scrapbook Page The Page Unbound   
10-Jan Playlist Story Schmoozing Book Reviews
11-Jan Review The Clueless Gent


  1. Great review! Love that it sounds like there's something to appeal to all kinds of readers. Thanks for the post!

  2. It sounds like there is a lot of social commentary about the 60s.

    1. There is some, but I think it is more so about Pete’s growth as it is a coming of age novel. Thanks for reading!

  3. sounds interesting

    1. It is! I highly recommend it. Thanks for reading!