Sunday Book Review – Father Figure by James Cudney

My Sunday Book Review for James Cudney’s – Father Figure is an engrossing read into two lives – Amalia Graeme and Brianna Porter. Amalia’s abusive upbringing inspires her to get far away from home as she can’t wait to move away to college. Brianna  is relentless when it comes to finding out who her biological father is and her determination to find answers becomes a sore spot between her and her mother as her mother continues to deny telling her daughter any information from her past, until Brianna discovers her mother’s diary.




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.

Praise from readers:

★★★★★ – “The book deals with abuse, identity, acceptance, overcoming obstacles, crime, sexuality, family secrets, and knowing who you are. Another great story to read, especially if you love emotive, suspenseful family dramas.”

★★★★★ – “Gripping and emotional… Mr. Cudney has written a book full of twists and turns that kept my eyes glued to its pages.”

★★★★★ – “Amalia and Brianna are fully developed characters with all the fears, naivety, anxiety and angst of teen, young adults; full of questions and doubts… Can’t wait for James Cudney’s next work.”


My 5 Star Review:

This book takes us into the life of Amalia Graeme in the mid 80s, a sweet teenage girl living in smalltown Mississippi. desperate to leave home and go to college to experience making friends, finding love, and most of all, getting away from her most deplorable excuse for a mother.

Amalia is pretty green when it comes to learning anything about love and life because she is taught nothing by her mother. We are taken through Amalia’s sad life at home, save for her father who dearly loves her, but somehow seems afraid of his own wife. Amalia meets her first boyfriend Carter, a friend of her brother’s who ends up going to the same college as Amalia.

We’ll discover how Carter is a bad boyfriend, and Amalia begins to find solace and then love with one of her professors – undoubtedly a father figure to console her as she desperately misses her father’s love. Then again, everything changes after Amalia is attacked.

As the book goes between Amalia’s life in the mid 80s and switches to present day New York, we’re taken into the confusing life of Brianna, where she attends the same college that Amalia attended some 20 years earlier. Brianna is plagued with needing to know who her biological father is while she also struggles to figure out her own identity as she questions her attraction to her best friend Shanelle, and her preference in gender when it comes to relationships.

Brianna spends a lot of time trying to corner her mother into telling her who her real father is, but her mother dodges at every opportunity, and the storyline continues creating curiosity for us readers wanting to learn too, who is Brianna’s father? Once Brianna finds her mother’s long lost and forgotten diary, Brianna is exposed to the people in her mother’s life, her relationships and why the paternal identity of Brianna’s fathering presents such a complicated mystery. But Brianna is determined to solve the mystery and hatches a plan with Shanelle to help her investigate what really did happen to her mother. Secrets are all revealed as the book comes to an end.

The past always finds a way into the present.




65 thoughts on “Sunday Book Review – Father Figure by James Cudney

  1. Hi Debby, What a wonderful review. This sounds so interesting, I’ll have to head over to Amazon. My daughter spent a year at Penn State Uni on exchange, so I can relate to the charming college town. Toni x


    1. Hi. Thank you very much. I hope you enjoy it. The book comes up for discounts on Kindle often… I usually mention it on my blog. 🙂 PA is a beautiful state too.


  2. Debby,

    Wow! That’s the first word… the second is thanks. Truly, I appreciate all you’ve said here as you’ve highlighted what I love about these characters. They have such depth, and they make you sad, angry, and hopeful. I appreciate all you’ve said and done in this review, especially taking the time to read the novel. You are a truly wonderful person, and I am grateful.

    Have a wonderful Sunday!



  3. Thanks, Pete. I appreciate it very much. I bought your book this morning (finally) and it’s on my list to read in May. 🙂


    1. Aww, thank you. Eight (8) written and two currently being edited, though 1 is co-written. Writing the outline for the next Braxton too… I’m slowing down now that I am back to work full-time tho.


      1. Hi Debby,

        This book sounds gripping and a definite must-have! My curiosity is already piqued. I’m doing a big purchase soon and will add it to my collection. Your review was wonderful and Best Wishes to James.
        ~Lauren 🌼💗


      2. Hi Lauren… thank you very much. I appreciate it. Hope you enjoy the book if you decide to read it. Have a great day. -j


  4. You are making good use of your time – reading and reviewing, Debby. Thanks for the 5* review. What do I know about a father figure – plenty, I’d say!

    The cover looks very mysterious, and the title suggests that “The past always finds a way into the present.”


    1. Hi,

      Thank you very much. You definitely picked up on that! 🙂 Hope you enjoy the book if you decide to read it. 🙂



  5. I found this book quite tragic Deb. James’ style has evolved from dark corridors of life into brighter ways that he explores in his later books. Haunted House Ghost is my favorite, I think you would give him double five stars for this one. 🙂


    1. Such lovely praise Balroop! I agree Amalia’s life was tragic in many ways, but life isn’t always sunny for everyone, and there are plenty of books with dark topics that people can’t seem to get enough of. The positive from the story is how Amalia soldiered on through misfortunes of her life and became a great mother. 🙂


    2. Balroop,

      Thank you so much. I know you preferred the lighter books, and I appreciate all your support. I do enjoy this plot, despite it being a tad dark. Hope you are doing well! Take care.



  6. Thanks for the recommendation Debbie. This sounds excellent.
    On my tbr pile.
    Hope you’re keeping safe
    Virtual hugs across the big ponds ❤


  7. Thanks so much for the review and recommendation, Debby. The story sounds intriguing, and I love the cover (I’m such a sucker for a great cover). Congrats to James!


  8. Sounds like another winner, Debby. The book seems to pack a lot and I am intrigued by the alternating chapters, two decades (!) apart. There must be a reason for that. Lots of different emotions, topics, and experiences and my guess is that all the “loose ends” will get tied up nicely towards the end of the book.


    1. Hi,

      Thank you very much for the comment. Debby has been so kind. I hope you end up enjoying the book, if you decide to read it. Have a great weekend.



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