Review: Father Figure, by James J. Cudney #5stars


OMFG you guys, James J. Cudney is two for two in the ‘ugly cry book’ department! His debut Watching Glass Shatter blew me away, I couldn’t believe it was his first book. I became an instant fan of his writing. So, when Father Figure came out, I had to get my hands on it as soon as possible!

Father Figure is just as good as Watching Glass Shatter, and yet utterly different! It’s unique in several ways. James has managed to create two family dramas that are equally as wonderful, yet entirely outside of the cookie cutter tales. This author clearly has a gift for originality in each of his works, which is SO stinking refreshing!

There are two main characters who alternate in POV. First lets talk about Amalia and her role based in the 1980’s.

Amalia has been raised by a horrid mother, and loving father who has been her sole support system for her entire life. The awful woman who birthed her (I wont even call her a mom) forced her to grow up sheltered from life as a regular child, keeping her away from crowds and any useful knowledge about life, and being a woman in general. All the while exposing her to physical, mental, and emotional abuse. She controlled their household, treated her husband like dirt, and Amalia like her slave. Amalia’s escape from her mother came about by means of College, which brought a whirlwind of new life experiences… Some good, and some of which was not at all pleasant.

I love Amalia!  I love her deep rooted kindness, and her life long dedication to being the exact opposite of her mother. Even when she makes mistakes, they’re backed by innocence, driven by emotion, and followed through with the help of ignorance of any better choices. She’s practically a child in so many ways, just thrown to the wolfs, and forced to find her way through round after round of harsh life blows.

Next lets talk about Brianna and her role played in mid 2000’s.

It’s 2003- 05 and the world is an entirely different place. A part of me really likes Brianna, and a part of me wants to give her a slap once in a while. Her mother, Molly, has raised her as single mom in New York, with a bit of the helicopter parent approach. Molly’s a bit overbearing, she’s over-protective, and in a way it’s driven a bit of a wedge between the two.

They are close in so many ways, the love is very clearly there, yet they hold back from each other far too much. They both hide things and are secretive. They feel like they’re protecting one another, but in reality they’re creating a sort of obstacle course in their mother daughter relationship. Brianna is trying to figure out who she is as an adult, and how to cope with her own relationships and emotions. She’s wants her independence, and she’s also trying to uncover the past her mother has always kept hidden.

Brianna want’s to find out who her father is, and in the process of digging she pulls out some pretty insane skeletons from the closet. The shocks in her quest to find her father are awesome! Just when I thought I had things figured out, I was completely wrong!
Both of the characters have some similarities in college experiences, and the story weaves itself together seamlessly.

I think what I love most about this book is the way clues are left along the way, planted in the most perfectly inconspicuous ways. The last hundred pages or so of the book are overflowing with those AwwHaa surprises. The kind that leave you scratching your head wondering ‘how the hell did I miss that’. It’s like the entire book is this intricately cut jigsaw puzzle, each piece imperative and meant to be put together one at a time, in it’s time. Then, the completed image is layered in depth and color.

Absolutely beautiful! I’m officially fangirling over this author… And, if it means anything at all, that’s a term I swore I’d never use. Do yourselves a favor a read this book!!!


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.

Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, 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 she’s developed for an older man, Amalia faces life-altering tragedies.

Brianna Porter, a sassy, angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, 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 subsequent collision that is bound to happen is revealed. FATHER FIGURE is an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense.


13 Comments Add yours

  1. Very emotional. But a story that really pulls you in.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes it does!! I’ll probably be dreaming about it! I can tell already.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I still think about Watching Glass. Lol

        Liked by 1 person

      2. HAHA me too! I’m waiting (not so) patiently for Ethan’s backstory book!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Mischenko says:

    Amazing review, Didi! So glad you loved it. 💖💜💖

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I did, wow such an emotional novel! Thank you 😊🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Didi,

    I read this last night and couldn’t even formulate a response… I had to think about it overnight. Then we talked, so I feel even more honored. Your review is beautiful. From the words you chose to the organization, then from the humor to the emotions… it really makes me feel awesome when a book can do this to a reader — especially another writer who gets the entire process we go through when pulling together the story. It was a puzzle, and there were times I moved some pieces around to get the maximum WOW moments… exactly as you pointed out. I’m so humbled with this review. I cannot thank you enough… I’m grateful beyond any additional words.



    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re most welcome, Jay. The pleasure and honor is all mine. You’re a master craftsman in character AND plot development. I’ll be holding my breath to read whatever escapes that genius mind of yours next! 😊🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  4. A fabulous review of Jay’s book, Didi.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Robbie! It’s such a great book! 😊

      Liked by 2 people

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