Valerie Fraser Luesse

• Novels •


The things that tear us apart can also bring us together.

With America's entrance into World War II, the town of Blackberry Springs, Alabama, has exploded virtually overnight. Workers from all over are coming south for jobs in Uncle Sam's munitions plants—and they're bringing their pasts with them, right into Dolly Chandler's grand but fading family home turned boardinghouse.

 A struggling young couple from the Midwest, unemployed professors from Chicago, a widower from Mississippi, and a shattered young veteran struggling to heal from the war are all hoping Dolly's house will help them find their way back to the lives they left behind. But the house has a past of its own.

When tragedy strikes, Dolly's only hope will be the circle of friends under her roof and their ability to discover the truth about what happened to a young bride who lived there a century before.



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 is the author of Almost Home and the bestselling and Christy award winning Missing Isaac and is an award-winning magazine writer best known for her feature stories and essays in Southern Living, where she is currently a senior travel editor. 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. Her editorial section on Hurricane Katrina recovery in Mississippi and Louisiana won the 2009 Writer of the Year award from the Southeast Tourism Society. She lives in Birmingham, Alabama.


“This is the kind of book you can’t wait to get home and read every night—to meet up with characters you genuinely like in a feels-so-real place you want to be.”

 Sara Peterson, editor in chief, HGTV Magazine

“A story of kindness, friendship, and healing, Almost Home shines.”

Nancy Dorman-Hickson, coauthor of the award-winning 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 most of all, a profound gift for storytelling.”

 —Sid Evans, editor in chief of Southern Living on Missing Isaac

Missing Isaac will break–and then heal–your heart.”

 —J. I. Baker, journalist and author of The Empty Glass on Missing Isaac