Bo Grayson has spent eight years travelling around living the life of a ski bum. His prep school shrink refers to his lifestyle as "fantasyland" and warns against dedicating his life to finding fresh powder. Gradually, spurred on by new relationships and the success of old friends, Bo decides to become a serious grown up and becomes a Chicago trader in search of the really big money. However he has always been interested in psychology and eventually turns to a Jungian analyst to try and make sense of his life.
I was initially attracted to this book as someone who had spent some time working in ski resorts. In fact the first part of the book was so familiar to me. Bo could have been any number of people I worked with in the past, and I remember sharing his musings about whether one should do what is expected; go to university, get a good job, buy a big house and have a family, or whether living on the breadline but having a lot of fun could be equally fulfilling. It was a vivid reminder of a very alluring lifestyle
The second part charts Bo's move into the "real" world and explores his relationships with old school friends. Some have been wildly successful in monetary terms but appear lacking in other ways. He dwells more and more on who he is and how he should be living his life, and in the third part he finally addresses all the internal conflicts causing his ongoing depression. I found the ideas on psychology interesting and presented in a way that was, to me with very limited knowledge on the subject, accessible. The latter parts had a very different feel to the first, probably a reflection on Bo's state of mind but it felt a little disconnected to me. This book was almost the negative image of Adelaide MacKenzie Fuss' The Watermen, which I read and reviewed last year. The themes are certainly similar, although this book tackles them in a more academic way.
I liked Bo and was able to empathise with his somewhat familiar dilemma early on in the book. As he knuckled down to life as a city trader I was interested to see whether he would end up with a seven figure salary and a trophy wife or whether he would choose a different measure of success. The supporting characters made for an interesting cast. I found myself compelled to pick the book up and keep reading to find out what would happen to more than one of them.
I enjoyed this read which provided a bit of snow covered escapism and some interesting psychology. I've struggled to decide what rating to give it, but decided that having to think about it rather than having a really strong positive reaction probably meant I should go with the rating given. A good piece of nicely written contemporary fiction.
Format: Kindle, review copy
Publisher: Mud Season Publishing
My Rating: 3*