He’s amazing. Just when I think he’s penned his final shimmering literary star, Richard Paul Evans flings another into the firmament of fine fiction. Lost December (Simon & Schuster, 2011) is a case in point.
I loved this book.* I read all 346 pages cover-to-cover in a day and a half, including the Epilogue.
Based on the biblical account of the prodigal son, Lost December introduces us to Luke Crisp, son of copy center mogul Carl Crisp. Dad wants to turn the family business over to his son once Luke earns his M.B.A. from Wharton, an endeavor Dad urged Luke to pursue. At Wharton, however, Luke falls in with would could be charitably dubbed a bunch of nihilist husks of humanity masquerading as intellectuals and fellows students. Under their influence and at the urging of his smooth-talking, blood-sucking leech of a “room mate,” Sean, Luke has other plans. He dumps Dad’s business – and Dad – and jet-sets to Europe with his new pals, footing the bill for everyone. Once on the continent, Luke and friends make a career out of running up outlandish bar tabs and room service. But Luke’s million dollar trust fund doesn’t last forever. When the money runs out, so do his “friends.”
Luke returns to Las Vegas and soon hits rock-bottom. Friendless, penniless, and homeless, Luke Crisp is the highly educated son of a Fortune 500 corporate exec. whose entire worldly possessions fit into the backpack he carries from one street to the next.
Too embarrassed and ashamed to contact his father, Luke winds up living “underground” in a culvert. After being robbed and beaten up, Luke is rescued by Carlos, a Good Samaritan who runs a convalescent care center. Carlos gives Luke a place to stay and hires him. Luke soon takes on a second job at a local Crisp’s Copy Center, where no one knows who his father is – and he’s not about to spill the beans. He comes closes when he meets the distant, detached Rachael, a single mom with a painful past.
What follows is a remarkable, poignant story of forgiveness, reunion and the true meaning of love.
Told in vintage Evans style – first person narrative, with an engaging, intriguing plot and three-dimensional characters you feel like you know – Lost December is a holiday treat. Get a copy for yourself this holiday season. Better yet, get several and share.
* I admit it. I love all of Evans’ books. If you have a “reluctant” teen reader, check out Evans’ Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25. My twelve year-old couldn’t put it down!