At first I thought this book would be another story like A Winter Dream by the same author (a re-telling of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors) but based on The Prodigal Son instead; however, this prodigal son tale was pretty original for a re-telling. I thoroughly enjoyed it and actually had sympathy for Luke, the son who left home, squandered a million dollar trust fund, and ended up homeless on the streets. Luke didn’t actually spend all the money himself, which helped in the sympathy department; he trusted the wrong people who took advantage of him. Nevertheless, Evans does an excellent job of showing how gradually one’s values and priorities, and even personality can change in the right (or wrong) environment.
This feel-good “riches to rags” story operates well on another level as well. Not only does it remind us to remember what is really important in our lives and that the source of true happiness is not found in material possessions and in short-lived experiences, but it shows how impossible it is to break out of the cycle of poverty and homelessness without help, while still emphasizing the value of hard work and determination. Maybe a little too much on the side of ambition.
Evans builds up Luke’s father to angelic heights as a decent, caring, and ethical corporate executive, which I guess is understandable since he would be “God” allegorically speaking since the father in the original represents God. Kind of an allegory within an allegory in this case. Evans seems to idealize the honest businessman, but at the same time, he acknowledges the all-too-familiar greedy and immoral tycoon. Of course, Luke realizes the value of an honest day’s work and sacrifice, but once on the street, he isn’t given a chance until a charitable do-gooder gives him a hand up. Evans does a great job of showing the reader the hopelessness of the plight of many.
You probably know the story of The Prodigal Son, so it won’t be a spoiler to let you know that Luke finds his way home into the forgiving and open arms of his father. It’s not as corny as it sounds. This book was a wonderful holiday read without being too preachy or saccharin. It thoroughly delivered on Christmas spirit. 4 out 5 stars.