It’s the fourth Wednesday of November, and Patrick Guthrie is giving thanks. He’s giving thanks that his eight-year-old son, Braden, will finally have a procedure on his heart that will cure him of the same life-threatening condition that took Patrick’s wife several years earlier. But when Patrick suddenly loses his job teaching drama at a New York City high school, his already desperate financial situation becomes dire. Rebecca Brody, a social worker, shows up at his door with a judge’s order for him to appear before the city’s family court to determine if Patrick is financially fit, and Patrick realizes he is in danger of losing his son. Patrick knows that he must somehow make it through the holiday season to a new job waiting for him in the new year. He also knows that Ted Cake, his former father-in-law, blames Patrick so much for the death of his daughter that he, a rich and disagreeable man, is the one pushing the city to call the custody hearing and give the boy over to him. Now Patrick has only three weeks before Christmas to somehow make enough money to pay his bills, present himself to the family court as a fit father, and keep Braden in his life. It’s when Patrick sees a charming beggar on the subway dressed up as a crazy alien that he gets an idea. In true Dickensian holiday spirit, Patrick makes use of his old acting skills and his love of A Christmas Carol and takes to the streets in the guise of the Ghost of Christmas Present. Making a midtown corner his performing stage, he begins to touch and change the lives of all those who come his way, including Rebecca Brody and the bitter and heartbroken Ted Cake.
The train stopped at a station where the signs read Thirty-fourth Street. The doors opened and Patrick waited for the commuters to disembark before he got off.
He walked to the stairs as the morning light from the street shone and the sounds of Broadway bounced down into the station in echoing waves. He caught sight of himself in the plastic window of the token booth, where the transit workers shook their heads at his appearance.
Perhaps he had gone too far with the costume. Perhaps he had gone too far thinking he should even attempt this madness. Perhaps what was worst of all was thinking he could save the semblance of a life that he could carve for himself with Braden.
Maybe Braden would be better off without him in his daily life. Maybe . . .
Patrick shook off the thought as the noise of Broadway waited for him above. He drew in a breath and exhaled. “Into the breach, dear friends.”
He began to climb the stairs.
The Ghost of Christmas Present is a debut novel for both authors and what a start. I am not usually a fan of Christmas themed stories, just usually not my genre but when I read the description I felt drawn to it. As I read this novel I could not help but admire his father's dedication and love for his son that causes him to do what he wouldn't normally do to get what his son needs. The son Braden is a wise little boy, who seems to deal with his illness and current situation much better than his Dad or his Grandpa. Patrick's father in law blames Patrick for his daughter's death and wants to get Braden away from him. This story really grabbed me beginning to end. It was hard to put down and truly touched my heart. The themes in this story really hit home for me as a parent of two special needs children and someone who lives with chronic illness. This story also shows how when we use our God given gifts we truly find success and find ourselves. This book is truly a wonderful story and I am so thankful I had the privilege to read it. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good Christmas themed story. I hope to see more books from Scott Abbott and Amy Maude Swinton.