Publication Date: April 2, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Drama
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.
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Excerpt (Brianna’s Complicated Feelings)
Brianna and Shanelle have been best friends for years, but something more is brewing and Brianna doesn’t know how to handle it. She’s debating whether to sleep with her boyfriend after prom, but finds herself drawn back to a gift.
– James J. Cudney
“What are we gonna do about Doug?” Shanelle grabbed Brianna’s wrist, led her to the bathroom, and situated her on the toilet seat. She opened one of the boxes from the heaviest bag and considered what to do with a few curlers. “He’s gonna push you to sleep with him. Maybe I should show up to protect you. I could taser him if he does anything wrong.” Shanelle rifled through her cosmetics bag pulling out three types of eyeliner. “Choose.”
“Does it matter?”
“If I taser him? Probably not, though that asshole may get turned on. Hell, I might enjoy watching him piss himself from the electric shock.” She freakishly shook her body and feigned surprise after pretending to become incontinent.
“Not Doug, the eyeliner.” Brianna held up the makeup clueless about which color to select. She’d worn very little of her own following in her mother’s footsteps. Less is more is a motto often chanted around their apartment.
“Oh, my lovely little Bree. We’ll make a woman out of you someday.” Shanelle chose the thickest one and applied a generous line around Brianna’s eyes. “I’m jealous of these high cheekbones. They so perfectly shape your face.”
“Umm, thanks.” Brianna, often incapable of accepting praise, glanced at the mirror, then updated Shanelle about the information she discovered on Lenny’s mail in the jazz club. “Maybe I’ve got a new lead, huh?”
“It’s possible. That would be a big help.” Shanelle shrugged her shoulders, then excitedly changed the subject. “Ooh, grab the bag on the floor.”
Brianna tried to reach for it but couldn’t without bending forward. Shanelle’s hand slipped and traced a line of dark black liquid across her cheeks. “Bree, you’re such an awkward mess.”
“Just finish, will you?” Brianna grabbed the bag and shook a small blue box with a white bow. “You bought me something from Tiffany’s?”
“Yeah, even though you don’t deserve it.” Shanelle capped the eyeliner and opened a tray of varying shades of blue eyeshadow. “You need a darker, smokier color to highlight your eyes.”
“You shouldn’t have bought me anything after the way I behaved last night.” Brianna pulled the bow off the box and removed the lid. A pair of diamond teardrop earrings caused her to swoon. “They’re beautiful. You really are amazing.”
There are two seperate stories, spanning twenty years, that take place in FATHER FIGURE. We are first transported back to 1984, in a small Mississipi town, where we meet Amalia Graeme. Amalia is a sweet and innocent young girl that does not have the best home life. Her mother mentally and physically abuses her, her father doesn’t stand up for her, and she has no friends in which to confide in. Amalia is very lonely. She loves her father dearly, but she also knows that her mother rules the home. Amalia’s only escape is knowing that once the summer is over, she will finally be leaving home to go to college. Amalia craves the freedom of being an adult, finally making friends, and maybe having a boyfriend, but college opens up a world filled with even more complications and hardships.
We also delve into the life of Brianna Porter twenty years later in 2004. Brianna comes from a one parent home and she often wonders who her father is and why her mother, Molly, will never talk about him or her past. Brianna feels as if she is missing a big part of herself by being kept away from her dad and the truth. This leads her on a quest to seek answers about her parentage. Besides searching for the truth, Brianna is also trying to come to terms with her sexuality. She is attracted to women, but is fearful of progressing a relationship further with her best friend, Shannele, whom is openly gay.
FATHER FIGURE is such a great name for this book and the name kind of hits home of what the meaning of having a father means to both girls in the story. In a lot of ways, I could relate to both Amalia and Brianna as my father, although a good man, was taken away too soon. So I can understand the closeness Amalia felt to her father and yet I could also feel the pain that Brianna is going through knowing she may never have a father who will walk her down the aisle. Because of this, I felt that I bonded with both Amalia and Brianna as characters going through a similar situation such as mine.
The characterization throughout the story was phenomenal. I really felt that we really got into the hearts and minds of both girls and we can feel all the hope, all the pain, and all the suffering they each go through as they make their way through life. Life for Amalia and Brianna is complicated. There are ups and downs both characters face and as a reader, I journeyed along with them, invested in each of their stories.
The plot moves at a steady pace alternating chapters between Amalia and Brianna until they merge together into one story. James Cudney throw us these little clues, while may not mean anything right away, but when the significance of them hits you in the face, you realize how strategically they were placed and how brilliantly they were written. What brings these two characters together and will they ever find the peace within themselves to ever be happy?
Sometimes when you read a book, you just know from the first couple of chapters that the story being told is going to be one of those stories that surpasses all of your expectations. I am ecstatic to say that FATHER FIGURE is one of them. I tend to enjoy many books that I read and although many of them are five star reads for me, there is always that one book that grabs you in such a way and you know right from the beginning that the story being told is going to be exraordinary. A five star rating wouldn’t even be enough to express how much I loved this book. I know this will not be my only read from James Cudney and I will be adding his first book, Watching Glass Shatter, to my list. James Cudney is a Master at his craft and an author to watch out for.
The prize is 1 print copy of Father Figure (Available to North America only)
For those of you who cannot enter the giveaway because you’re outside of North America, Father Figure will be available later this month on Amazon for only $0.99!!!
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?
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