Father Figure by James J. Cudney
Publication Date: April 2nd 2018
Read Date: December 3rd 2018
Genre: Contemporary / Fiction / Mystery
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.
Father Figure was dramatic, suspenseful contemporary fiction telling the story of Amalia and Brianna with lots of twist and turns. It was about coming of age, complex relationships and secrets, and uncovering the mystery of past.
Amalia’s life was difficult at Graeme family home with her abusive mother who unleashed hell whenever she saw Amalia around and tongue tied father who loved and adored his daughter but never dared to go against his wife. Escaping town for college was only solution of her tyrant mother.
I felt sad for Amalia. No one deserves such mother. Because of her mother’s constricting ruthless nature and father’s ignorance, Amalia faced the world she was never prepared for. When she went to Woodland college things started to turn opposite of what she thought. Amalia’s shyness, lack of confidence and her unfortunate fate of finding less friendly people kept her alone and aloof back at home and even at the college. Even though life threw the worst in her path she chose to do right and I loved that in her. She developed into amazing, caring and loving woman even after all that happened to her.
Brianna was 18-year-old brilliant, fierce girl but had many flaws. She was afraid to take major life decisions. She was gay but was afraid to admit it. She thought reason behind her unassertive uncertain nature was not knowing anything about her father and family apart from her mother.
I didn’t like her approach with her mother and was handling her problems immaturely. I didn’t like the way she ignored her mother’s emotions when they started discussing the father issue. I also didn’t appreciate the way she kept giving importance to a person who wasn’t present in her life and ignoring and hurting those who were there and loved her all her life. But as she dig more into mother’s past, she ended up regretting her behavior and understood her mother’s situation and emotions. Her development was slow but was satisfactory in the end. I felt frustrated at some points but I was glad by the end.
Shanelle was Brianna’s best friend and also lover. Though she was pushy and controlling, she brought out best in Brianna and helped her in all the way like true lover.
I liked the cover based on the stories in the book in which both protagonist chose the path that is leading them away from home and family because of too controlling constricting environment of home. Writing was brilliant. It was even more captivating than author’s debut novel. I felt anger, sadness and heartbreak of the character to the core. Author poured all kind of emotions through the story of Amalia and Brianna.
Book was told in two timeline, 1984 and 2004 in third person narrative from Amalia and Brianna’s perspective alternatively; two life story that seamlessly merge into one. This was quiet dramatic and poignant story.
As soon as I started reading Amalia’s story, I knew I had to be prepared for something shocking and heart breaking. It hooked me from the very beginning. I wanted to know what will happen with Amalia, whether she would able to spend her life out of the cruel clutches of her mother and find happiness in the arm of love she was craving for or will it turn out worst nightmare possible. It was jaw dropping life mystery to uncover.
As I read more in Brianna’s story, I was eager to find out whether she would give in to her feelings for Shanelle or would do something stupid in ignorance, who her father was, and what happened in Molly’s past that she kept her hidden all her life.
The stark similarity of Amalia and Brianna’s life was shocking. They both fell for more than one person and went all the way to determine what they exactly want in life. Loneliness, no one to share their deepest secret and desires, fear, indecisiveness, absence of father and in yearning to have a father figure in life, led both Amalia and Brianna to tragic consequences. But thankfully Brianna was saved from the tragedy that Amalia faced because of her mother.
Loved the way author portrayed tensed mother-daughter relationship and Brianna’s uncertain relationship with Shannel. Loved the message from the book on- being yourself, blood never defines who you are, leaving the past in past by grabbing the chance of future and move on in life. Being loved by someone and having a friend in life to share ups and downs is a great feeling and one should cherish it rather than running after a person who is not present in life.
Twist and turns in the book were surprising. Climax was engaging and very uncertain with some more shocking revelations. End was great and I liked the way things worked out between characters.
Overall, it was engaging, emotional, suspenseful and insightful contemporary family drama that I recommend to all fiction lover. If you haven’t read it yet just grab it without second thought.
Author: James J. Cudney
*** Note: I won e-copy of the book during giveaways. ***
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