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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This book will absolutely drag you in and will not let you go until you finish it. I started this book one morning and was finished with all 400+ pages by the next afternoon, even when taking breaks from reading to do other activities.
Both Brianna and Amalia have their own unique stories to tell. Brianna is trying to find out about her father, and decide whether or not she wants to date her best friend Shanelle. Amalia wants to start making her own life and her own decisions away from her abusive mother, and she is attracting the attention of her brother’s best college friend at the same time. She has to fight with herself between what she wants to do and what her mother wants her to do.
Out of the two storylines, I definitely liked Amalia’s better. I felt that she was more mature in a way, and I was definitely more sympathetic towards her. Brienna was very pushy towards her mom about her father even though it may not change anything and even though her mom was clearly uncomfortable with talking about it. She was quite wishy-washy throughout the book and really hurt those who were around her. I didn’t dislike either of their stories as nobody is perfect, but Brianna did rub me the wrong way with some of the things that she did.
I did enjoy seeing Brianna mature throughout the novel. It would not have gone the same way if she hadn’t been so immature in the beginning. Overall, it was a nice change of character that I could appreciate.
The worldbuilding of this novel was creative. Even though this novel was based on real life, it took place in 1984 and 2004. This meant that to a current reader, both time periods would have to be described in order to get the full picture of the storyline. The plot moved quite smoothly, and once I got started I could not stop. I thought that every twist was addictive. Every time Brianna got close to finding something out, it switched back to Amalia’s storyline where we find out something new about her. I thought that this method of storytelling was very good, and it kept me engaged throughout the entire book. I didn’t find any editing errors in the copy of the book that I read on Amazon. Everything was simply perfect for me.
I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a new mystery drama novel that takes place over two storylines.
Overall Rating: 6/5
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.”
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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