Luke Crisp is a young man that has been groomed his entire life by his father to inherent and take over the multi-million dollar company. Luke, however, is encouraged by his father to spread his own wings and fly first. He does this by going to Wharton business school where he meets some new friends that show him what "living really is." In other words, the more it costs the better it must be. Luke manages to blow through his entire trust fund in just over 50 days. He is left with nearly nothing. He has been disowned by his father. He has no one to help him and finds himself living on the streets of Las Vegas.
If I were to tell you any more, I would ruin the story. I have made a promise to myself that I will no longer write reviews with spoilers. However, considering the book is described as a retelling of the Biblical story The Prodigal Son, it's pretty easy to guess how it ends. I even told myself that I wouldn't cry at the ending but of course I did tear up just a little. I also started yelling at the book when I read about what Candace does. I sure didn't see that one coming.
What I loved most about this book is the philosophical banter that Luke's friends engage in the first parts of the book. Some of it fun and some of it is tongue in cheek. This book is particularly relevant in the age of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I wonder if Richard Paul Evans timed this book this way on purpose or if it was just one amazing coincidence.
One particular passage that struck me was this:
"Our culture has invented nothing, it just unabashedly embraces cultures' past failures - wipes them off and calls them new. It's philosophically fascinating - the relativists have asserted for centuries that the journey is the destination, and this new breed of capitalist is living that. Create and hoard. It's poetic."
I don't think Occupy Wall Street would call what the 1% does as poetic, but this view was certainly food for thought. The entire book was. I would encourage every Occupy Wall Street protester to read it. Actually, all the 1% too. It may be fiction, but it shows how you can have a cooperation and still have a giving heart.
My only criticism is that the story being built around Christmas seemed a little forced and that the idea that Luke impresses his love interest and her son with extravagant Christmas presents seems to contradict the books theme that money isn't everything. Oops, that was a bit of a spoiler, I suppose.
Overall the book was the best "riches to rags" stories I have ever read.