Book Review – Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney

Every family has problems. Every family has secrets. The Glass family, however, is exceptional. Beneath the facade of perfection lies a web of lies and false faces. When their patriarch dies and the facade breaks, a perfect storm of family drama threatens to swallow the Glass family whole. They might survive, but they’ll need more than honesty and a little courage to see it through the tempest: they’ll need each other.

I give Watching Glass Shatter a 4-star rating. While it may not be for every reader, there are many (and I do mean many) who will find this book to be a literary treasure.

Why This Book

I like finding quality book blogs to follow and contribute to. It was through the book-blogging community that I found the writings of James J. Cudney, in the form of his blog, “This Is My Truth Now.” I enjoyed his honest, open, and prolific writings on his blog, and was curious how his work would translate into novel form. When he asked for early readers for his debut novel, I answered the call. Since I’ve enjoyed his own book reviews so much, I’ve decided to mirror his style in my review of his own book.

My other reason for reading Watching Glass Shatter is that I am experimenting with new genres. This book is outside of my normal reading genres, and so it seemed like a good opportunity to try something new.

Plot, Characters & Setting

Benjamin Glass has been harboring a secret from his wife—a secret he’s kept close to his heart for a lifetime. One of their sons is not their own. The secret has eaten away at him for decades, but no matter how he’s tried, Ben simply cannot summon the courage to tell his wife the truth: that he switched their stillborn son out for another baby while she was unconscious.

But then Ben dies, and a letter he left behind discloses the truth to his wife, Olivia, leaving her with the burden of telling her unknowingly-adopted son the truth. But there’s a catch: Ben never said which son was switched out. While the trusted family attorney tries to seek out the woman whose baby Olivia has raised, Olivia is determined to spend time with her five sons, reconnect with each of them, and try to determine which one is not her own, before the attorney finds the missing woman and reveals the truth.

But the apple never falls far from the tree, and Olivia soon discovers that her husband wasn’t the only one keeping secrets: each of her sons have secrets of their own, secrets that are forcing the family apart. Secrets which, once revealed, may shatter the Glass family irrevocably.

Set with extravagant detail in the lavish homes, offices, and retreats of the wealthy, Watching Glass Shatter follows the six remaining members of the Glass family and their partners.

Approach & Style

Watching Glass Shatter is written with a third-person omniscient narrator. I read an advanced copy, and the narrator may have switched to be third-person limited between my draft and the final draft. Head-hopping was fairly limited in my copy, but did occur, and was distracting once or twice.

The story’s chapters were focused on specific characters, with each character getting a few dedicated chapters. The characters were introduced very quickly at the beginning, and all at once. This usually doesn’t work, and it didn’t come off super great here, either. However, it made perfect sense for it to happen that way in the story, and my early worries about not getting to know the characters well were soon washed away. Perhaps Cudney’s greatest strength in this book is creating a fairly sizable cast of well-managed, well-defined, recognizable, and consistent (but growing) characters. Not all of them were likeable, but they were unlikeable for the same reasons I don’t like some real people. Many of the characters were likeable, though, and all of them felt genuine and fleshed out.

The other thing that stood out to me was the depth of Cudney’s descriptions. A few times early on, it felt a bit heavy handed. This may have been addressed in the final copy. Either way, the issue largely disappeared after the first few chapters, at which point the descriptions were rich and often poignant.

Key Thoughts

This story had a number of different secrets waiting to be revealed; if one didn’t suit your fancy, another one might strike a chord with you.

I believe my own family heavily influenced my perception of this story. The main secret is that one of the boys was adopted (in a slightly clandestine manner, though not an immoral one). The mystery of which son it was had perhaps less appeal to me than other readers, but I attribute this mostly to my own experiences. I come from a large family (I’m talking more than 10 siblings, folks) and many of them, though not all, are adopted. Many of my cousins, too, are adopted. So, personally, the adopting issue wasn’t as interesting. But knowing the characters, I didn’t feel like their reactions to the issue were disingenuous. The other secrets—the ones the sons have—I personally found much more engaging. Perhaps that’s because many of them are in the same life-stage as I am. Who can say?

Another thought that I had for this is more a critique of the publisher than the author. The author knew his target readers, and knew them well. This book, I have little doubt, will please those readers. The cover art, however, seems evocative of something more sinister than the family drama (albeit an intense family drama) that this book is. I personally feel like the cover art is a bit misleading as to the nature of the novel, and may draw in some unintended readers, while perhaps alienating some of the target audience. But I’m no expert in such matters.

Author & Other Similar Books

James J. Cudney—Jay to many—is a prolific blogger and debut novelist. Watching Glass Shatter is his first book. He’s currently working on Father Figure, a new novel whose details and progress can be found on Jay’s blog, thisismytruthnow.com. He’s very reachable and approachable, and will quickly earn your respect—not only as a writer, but also (and more importantly) as a gentleman.

As for similar books, I’m largely at a loss. As I said before, this was me delving into a new genre. While I’m sure there are similar books, I’m also equally sure that this one is unique.

Summary

If you like family dramas, you will love Watching Glass Shatter. The plot is complex, personal, well crafted, and deeply moving. The characters are relatable, real, and down-to-earth. Cudney’s writing starts out strong, and then transitions into a natural storyteller’s flow.

If you’re curious about family drama’s, this book is a great one to experiment with—a solid, quality read.

Watching Glass Shatter is available for purchase on Amazon.com.

About Me

I’m Chauncey Rogers. I’m (supposedly) qualified to teach history, government, geography, psychology, sociology, and anthropology. Aside from my education degrees, I also studied linguistics and editing. My first novel, Home To Roost, was published in March 2017; and my second novel, Cleaving Souls, was published in October 2017. My third novel will (hopefully) be published in January 2018.

I believe in the power of storytelling and in the importance of quality writing—both in content and style. You can follow my adventures as an author at chaunceyrogers.com.

2 thoughts on “Book Review – Watching Glass Shatter by James J. Cudney”

  1. Chauncey,

    Thank you very much for reading and reviewing the novel. You volunteered, which says a lot — in a very positive manner — about your own character. I appreciate all that you’ve said and done in this great review, and I will reach out to you offline to chat more about this one, your novel and the upcoming Author Alert feature on you. Have a great weekend.

    -J

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