Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
Title: Father Figure
Author: James J Cudney
Publication Date: April 2, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Drama
This is a story of secrets, lies, childhood abuse, friendship, life and one young woman’s search for a father figure that has unanticipated repercussions on the lives of those she loves. It is told from the alternating points of view of two female characters with their posts relating to two different times – Amalia’s starts from August 1984 whilst Brianna’s start in June 2004. Initially the reader has no idea of any possible connection between the two but both are rebelling in their own way, seeking to find purpose and meaning in their lives as they do so, with dire consequences.
There are many well developed characters in the story, some you’ll like and others you definitely won’t! For example, Amelia’s mother is Janet, she certainly rules her home and her family . . . some might say she does so with strict, stern discipline, but I’d call her a heartless bully, especially to her husband and daughter! Her son, Greg, is more like the blue eyed boy . . .
It is when Brianna Porter decides to try tracing her father that results in revelations that were hurtful originally but now have the power to change everything for everyone concerned. There’s mystery, death, physical, emotional and sexual abuse, romance, drama and plenty of suspense in this well crafted, emotional, family drama.
I requested and was given an e-copy of this book which I have chosen to read and this is my honest review after doing so.
Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town, and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly. Struggling to survive in a claustrophobic, unforgiving world, they embark on a journey to overcome all the pain, disappointment, and horror of their experiences.
Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown, connect with others, and fall in love. Contemplating an impending loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia suffers devastating, life-altering tragedies. No matter where she turns, someone or something always steals her hope of finding happiness, protection, and love.
Brianna Porter, a sassy yet angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to determine her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. All the confusion stems from desperately needing to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, but an unexpected discovery of a journal leads Brianna to a shocking revelation about her missing parent. Unfortunately, by casting the net to find him, she’s unleashed a tragic history that was meant to stay buried and might now completely change everyone’s futures.
Through alternating chapters set two decades apart, each girl’s plight unfolds revealing the parallels between their lives and the subsequent collision that is bound to happen. In an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense, fate intervenes forcing someone to make a dreadful decision that will leave permanent scars.
There were a variety of extract options given as part of the tour. I decided to keep to this one as it shows just how controlling Amalia’s mother, Janet, is and how even her father daren’t go against her…
The Red Blouse
The red sweater is something important to Amalia, but she loses it when her mother takes another swing to knock down her daughter. This shows how awful Janet can truly be. Red becomes a theme in the book and aligns with the color of the cabin on the cover – James J. Cudney
Amalia grabbed her bag and keys shuffling everything together to leave with her mother. In her rush, she dropped the bag to the floor. The red blouse spilled from its only protection unaware of the trouble its presence would generate. It was the only article of clothing Amalia owned that made her feel special, nor did it try to hide her body from the rest of the world.
“What is that doing here? I told you to get rid of it yesterday morning.” The room grew a few degrees cooler as Janet’s icy expression penetrated the surface of Amalia’s waning facade.
“I… I just… forgot it was… in my bag when I brought it here today,” stammered Amalia.
“Give it here.”
“No, Momma. I’m bringing it home.”
“Someday, you’ll understand, girl.” Janet refocused her triumphant gaze from Amalia to her husband. “Have you got a pair of scissors in this store, Peter?”
Amalia closed her eyes and pictured what could have been if she’d met Bryan at the lake. She chastised herself for foolishly letting down her guard imagining the possibility of something positive happening in Brant. It was merely another one of her nightmares masquerading as a silly little girl’s daydream. Fighting back was a lost cause, and so was her blouse. Amalia grabbed the scissors from the rusty mason jar and walked with unparalleled defeat toward her mother.
“Stay right there, child. I’m not gonna be the one to destroy it. Give those scissors to your father.”
Peter’s deep-set eyes grew wide with disbelief despite remaining glued to a pile of dirt in the corner. “Janet, let her keep the shirt, please. She’s not going to wear it anywhere.”
“Cut it up now, Peter. The girl needs to learn another lesson. Apparently, so do you.” Janet banged her fist against the nearest wall rattling the pipes. “Make it quick. Greg will be ready for dinner in three hours.”
As the harassment in Janet’s voice punched holes in his body, Peter’s courage went limp with burden. His shaky fingers, normally quite firm and adept from building his model trains and boats, slid into the scissors. Amalia turned away at the nagging graze of one blade against the other, grateful when the fabric muffled the awful scrape of her last hopes being dashed away for the summer. “I love you, Daddy,” she mouthed to his despondent eyes and walked behind her mother to the car praying for silence on the ride home.
About the Author
James is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com
What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.
A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?
Author Website: https://jamesjcudney.com
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