This review contains what could be considered spoilers
Summary Review: A beautiful “feel good” story about falling in love at Christmas with the man who made all of your dreams come true.
Christmas is a time for giving – what do you do when no one gives a damn?
For Zachary Weston Christmas means sleeping on a churchyard bench in the freezing snow with nothing better in his future. Thrown out of his home for being gay, he is left without money or, it seems, anywhere to go. Until a stranger shows him that some people do give a lot more than a damn.
Ben Hamilton is a rookie cop in his small home town. He finds a young throwaway, fresh from the city, sleeping on a bench in the churchyard on a snowy Christmas Eve. Can he be the one to give Zachary his own Christmas miracle?
Zach Weston was hiding from the law and everyone else on Christmas Eve by trying to sleep on a park bench in a churchyard where he didn’t think he would be found. He was frozen because the only clothes he had on were jeans and a thin jacket. He had stolen an even thinner blanket from Goodwill to ward off the chill of the winter evening, and was dreaming of a warm bed when he was rudely awakened by a cop who told him to move on. Since he had no address and couldn’t give a satisfactory account of why he was in the churchyard the cop, Ben Hamilton, demanded to know his age. When he found out that Zach was not yet eighteen, had been kicked out of his home and had no money, he decided to take Zach home to his mother’s house to spend the night. Zach had no choice as he could not escape from Ben in his current weakened and frozen state – it was either go to his house or go to jail, but he was very suspicious of this seemingly kind stranger who could be taking him to the no-tell motel. His experience over the last few days had taught him to trust no one and it was with a great deal of reluctance that he went with Ben.
When they arrived at the house Ben’s mother welcomed the stranger who was almost falling down, he was so weak from hunger as well as frozen. She fed him after he was cleaned up and gave him a a change of clothing and his own room, as most of Ben’s siblings had left home. All the while Zach was waiting for the next shoe to drop, but to his amazement their hospitality was genuine. The next morning, Christmas Day, Ben’s extended family arrived to celebrate the holiday and they even managed to put together a few presents for him which were really a ‘care’ package since he didn’t have anything. For a couple of days he kept waiting to be kicked out of paradise but nothing happened, except he continued to be enveloped in the warmth of Ben’s family. His other life was a thing of the past and if he had one major regret it was that his sister Rebecca was not there with him. He only remembered his abusive father when he looked at the wounds on his body from his latest and previous beatings. Could this Christmas miracle turn his life around?
I loved The Christmas Throwaway for many reasons, but mainly because of the care with which the author, R.J. Scott, treated Zach’s and Ben’s romance and their character development. She could have rushed them into a relationship immediately after Zach turned 18 because he was starting to care for Ben and his hormones were on overdrive. Ben was equally smitten and to throw two horny young men together without letting them “go all the way” I thought was cruel and inhuman punishment. 🙂 However, Zach first of all had some physical injuries to heal which were related to the beatings he took from his father, as well as a lot of emotional trauma to overcome. He had been taken out of regular school at 14 and home schooled when his father found out he was gay, so that he would be away from all the ‘bad influences that made him gay.’ When that didn’t work and the terrible beatings didn’t either he was sent away regularly to re-orientation camps run by his father’s ex-army buddies. These places, like similar camps, existed for the sole purpose of changing the behaviour of gays to make them straight.
For four years Zach had been subjected to this form of reparative therapy so he had to regain his sense of self worth. He was so fragile that I felt as if he would break at any time, but the author ensured that his character was treated with love by Ben and his extended family so that he could overcome the years of mental and physical abuse by his own family. That is not to say he was weak, on the contrary as he gained confidence his character growth was extraordinary. As for Ben he was almost like a big brother to Zach initially because he felt he was too old for him at 26, and as a police officer his job was to take care of his physical health and not impose his own sexual feelings on someone he considered too young to know what he wanted. However he soon realized that Zach knew exactly what he wanted.
All of the characters were well drawn, from members of Ben’s extended family to his colleagues at the police station, and I thought that Zach’s father came to a fitting end.
The Christmas Throwaway touched me, not because Zach was homeless at 17 and had been thrown out of his home by his father one week before Christmas, but his character was so vulnerable and innocent that it would take a much harder heart than mine to resist him. However, this book is a dichotomy. It’s so sweet in some parts but quite harsh and realistic in others. Two years after they met the ending was everything I could have hoped for. There is sex but it’s not at the level that some readers are accustomed to, however I would urge you to read Zach’s and Ben’s beautiful story. Definitely recommended.