James J. Cudney IV (Jay) has penned a stellar personal-journey fiction novel. As a fan of searching-for-self stories, where characters pursue truths and eventually realize them, I found Father Figure delivered precisely that—with all the requisite components.
The first few chapters roused distinctive memories and feelings that had long been buried for yours truly and wounds thought closed, proved raw once again. When an author succeeds in evoking emotion, mission accomplished: the reader has been snared and secured.
The tale entwines the lives of two young women: Amalia in 1984 and 1985, and Brianna in 2004. Jay has painted them vibrantly, with distinct and different personalities. He’s captured the conflicting emotions of youthful awkwardness and confusing sexual awakening. Also effectively depicted are the characters’ personal frustrations and angst, and that “suffering” patience only a loving parent can provide.
Reading Father Figure is like being a fly on a wall; you’re privy to secrets and private/intimate conversations. Fathers—absent or dead—are key to Amalia and Brianna. One has lost her beloved dad, the other has yet to find him. We weave through their lives during crucial periods and in due course discover how they connect—in a rather clever way.
It’s hard not to feel—and despair—for Amalia. You root for her strength and conviction, and applaud the love she holds for her father despite his flaws and weaknesses. And you hope (like crazy) she’ll free herself of a self-centered, vicious mother.
Understanding what Amalia has had to endure, it was easy (and emotional) for me to relate to her struggles and emotions. Brianna was a little more difficult; she was almost too self-absorbed to be likable. Still, I could appreciate that impassioned search for self and the fixation re finding an unknowable father.
Throughout Father Figure, a strong sense of realism encompasses all senses. You can see the cityscapes and countryscapes . . . smell grass, freshly baked scones and rich nutty brew . . . hear rural birds and insects, and bustling NYC transit and traffic.
It’s a wonderful, winding tale of quests and findings juxtaposed with twists and turns. There are happy times and sad ones, and tragic if not terrible moments. Will Amalia marry her inane beau? Return to Mississippi to take care of her ailing mother? Will she find true love with an older gent? And what about Brianna? Will she decide her sexual proclivity? Finally find out about her father? Return to New York to her mother? Forgive, but not forget?
The narrative and descriptive components keep the reader engaged. The novel could have been tightened a tad as it leaned toward long. But, overall, Father Figure is a compelling suck-you-in-from-the-onset novel.
About the Author
NYC-based Jay is a prolific author and blogger first and foremost, but also a reader and reviewer, thinker, and genealogist and researcher.
After college, he took a technical writing position for a telecom company and spent 15 years developing a career in technology and business ops. While doing so, he wrote short stories and poems, and—like many—dabbled with the “great American novel”. Work being what it is, he couldn’t devote the required time to writing, so he left behind the 9-to-5+ world to focus on his passion full-time.
Look for Father Figure, as well as his first well-acclaimed book Watching Glass Shatter, on Amazon.
Setting: Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania,
Publisher: Creativa (April 3rd, 2018)
# of Pages: 430