As far as first novels go (which can be quite a long way with the right words), Amanda Dick has woven just about everything a reader could want into her debut, Absolution. This is a love story, but also a cautionary tale of what can happen when our guilt overwhelms us and leads us to make decisions that reach much further than we can ever imagine.
It starts with a terrible accident—an accident that leaves the main character, Jack, with a decision to make that may or may not have sealed the fate of his girlfriend, Ally. Jack can’t live with the guilt and leaves his friends and family for a life of self-imposed punishment, only returning four years later when a family tragedy draws him home. When he returns, it is time to put things right.
Dick’s characters are believable and relatable, particularly Jack’s girlfriend Ally. Ally is living with the consequences of the accident, as well as the pain of his departure. The portrayal of her struggle and the responsibility she feels is not the stuff of bunnies and rainbows. This is not the movies, it is raw human emotion, and an interesting take on how people claw their way back after tragic events.
The other main character, Callum, has a lot of promise. He’s the hot-head with a heart of gold, left behind to pick up the pieces when his best friend leaves. He seems to ooze anger and pain, not just for Ally but for himself too. He could have been a much deeper character, but seems to flip-flop from seething volcano to forgiving redeemer pretty rapidly within the story.
While possibly overly long for the point it’s trying to make, the action nips along at a fair pace, with a few surprises to mix it up. There are a couple of plot lines that border on the unbelievable, which when you combine them with the plausible characters makes for a slightly odd read at times. The narrative was repetitive in places, with the characters doing a lot of wincing, swallowing the lump in their throat, and recoiling as if slapped at the words of others, but overall Dick’s descriptive writing is solid, if lacking in a bit of variety.
Absolution by Amanda Dick is a strong debut from an author who has taken great care in crafting her characters. It’s well worth a read, and I’d give it three stars. It’s an interesting take on the human propensity for guilt and self-loathing, and what can happen when you just let it go.Powered by Sidelines