Book Review: Father Figure by James J. Cudney
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.
Abused by her mother, Amalia Graeme longs to escape her desolate hometown and fall in love. Contemplating her loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies.
Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden New York City teenager, yearns to find her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. Desperate to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, Brianna accidentally finds out a shocking truth about her missing parent.
Set in alternating chapters two decades apart, the parallels between their lives and the unavoidable collision that is bound to happen is revealed. Father Figure is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense.
This is the third book I’ve read by Mr. Cudney and I have nothing but praise for this young adult, coming of age story that tugged at every emotion―love, hate, sadness, astonishment, disbelief, fear, contempt, compassion, and finally, the exaltation and satisfaction one feels after a long journey to self-discovery. Father Figure explores emotional and physical abuse and their psychological outcomes― anxiety, anger, depression, insecurity, distrust, clouded by dark family secrets.
Superbly, Mr. Cudney weaves the past and present stories of two unique characters, Amalia Graeme and Brianna Porter, that come together seamlessly. Amalia and Brianna, two young women of different eras, share similar issues revolving around family secrets, love, acceptance, and sexual identity. One dominant theme in each woman’s life is the elusive, consummate father figure they desire in their lives.
Constantly abused by her monstrous mother, the only affection Amalia receives is from her adoring father who’s too weak to stand up to his wife and end her daily torment. Desperate to escape her small town and her mother’s control, Amalia leaves for college eager to discover true love, a new life, and herself. On an emotional level, Amalia seeks a man like her father, caring, mature, and wise. Will she find these qualities in the three men in her life―Bryan, Carter, or Jonah?
When Riley, a young man with malicious intent, appears on campus, fate alters Amalia’s expectations and dreams. Devastated by two personal losses, and brutal rape, Amalia leaves college back to her hometown, her abusive mother, and spirals into depression. Is there hope for her? Will she survive what fate has placed in her life?
Conversely, Brianna raised by an overly protective, single mom in New York City, is anxious to unearth her real father and her mother’s secret past which Molly refuses to discuss.
To top it off, Brianna’s confused by her feelings for her best friend Shanelle, but the need to find her father overshadows her uncertain sexual identity.
Off to college and a new life as a student, Brianna discovers her mother’s diary stuffed in the bottom of an old duffel bag. What she discovers will change her life forever.
Father Figure is aptly titled as both characters search the perfect love to fill or replace their father’s. I love the technique Mr. Cudney employs to bring each character together for the big reveal toward the end. It resembled a whodunit scenario and kept me guessing and anticipating more clues to the lucky or unlucky man. And Just as I believed I knew the answer, Mr. Cudney throws another variable into the plot, ramping up the suspense.
As a male, writing from a female perspective, I’m astonished how well Mr. Cudney captured a teenage girls’ insecurities, doubts, and sexual anxieties. I applaud Mr. Cudney for tastefully writing scenes that could have been more explicit.
Father figure is filled with twists and turns and loads of suspense as the story intertwines past and future, building to an emotional rollercoaster and a satisfying conclusion. It’s a journey well worth the time and a novel I highly recommend. Thanks for another fantastic read, Mr. Cudney!
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
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