“Today I broke my father’s heart.”
—From the diary of Luke Crisp
The parable of the prodigal son is among the best-known stories from the Bible. A young man, with everything in the world he could ever wish for—wealth, comfort, and most of all, a loving father—leaves his home, taking his inheritance with him. Carelessly, he spends it all and finds himself left penniless, homeless, and starving, lower than even the pigs.
In LOST DECEMBER, this holiday season’s novel from the man The New York Times crowned “the king of Christmas fiction,” we meet Luke Crisp. As a boy in Arizona, Luke served his father faithfully, dedicating his whole heart and mind to the family business after his mother’s death. And in turn, the elder man has built the company into a colossal success, a brand known nationally not only for its quality but also for the respect and care with which it treats its employees. Carl Crisp plans to turn the reins over to his son, and for Luke to carry on his corporate philosophy for another generation.
But first, he wants Luke to see more of the world and to receive the sort of education Carl never had a chance at. Luke applies to pursue an MBA at the Wharton School in Philadelphia. There, he finds romance with a beautiful woman and, for the first time, friends. But the more time he spends with his new companions—especially the cocky and worldly Sean—the more he finds himself and his values changing. He begins to drink to excess. He cheats on his girlfriend. Slowly but surely, he grows further away from his father, until they barely communicate at all.
Upon graduation, at the urging of his new crowd, he abandons his father, callously dismissing the older man’s hopes and dreams for the family business and jetting off with Sean and company for a whirlwind tour of the most glamorous spots Europe has to offer. To pay for the trip, Luke digs into the million-dollar trust fund Carl set up for him. The money seems endless, even when his friends begin to hit him up for loans of thousands of dollars.
But then it runs out—and the users Luke believed were his friends run out on him, too. In Las Vegas, his girlfriend leaves him, and he is utterly alone, with barely enough money for food, his possessions all sold or stolen. Too proud to reach out to the father he believes wants nothing more to do with him, Luke ekes out a pathetic existence among the city’s homeless.
One night, he is attacked and beaten by two men, left with nothing but a broken rib and his underwear. And that is when his fortunes begin to change. A good Samaritan—a Latino man who runs a care center for the elderly—stops to help him, buys him a meal, and offers him a job. The pay is six dollars an hour—and Luke is happy to take it.
Gradually, the formerly prosperous young man rebuilds his life and relearns the principles that were once so important to him. He still cannot bring himself to contact his father, but to prove himself worthy of the Crisp name, Luke takes a second job, at one of the family company’s stores, aiming to see how high he can rise on his own merits. He cannot foresee that he will also fall in love—and find the redemption he has ached for so long.
Published November 1, 2011
Simon & Schuster
“Another heartwarming, feel-good tale in time for the holidays… Evans’ latest is a touching redemption story.”—Booklist