Jack McKenna is a man with two very distinct pasts. One ended with a car accident involving his girlfriend, Ally, and a split-second decision with horrific consequences. Desperate to escape the guilt, he carved out a new life for himself. Four years spent hiding in the shadows, punishing himself for not having the courage to go back to her. Then, out of the blue, a phone call forces him to face up to everything and everyone he left behind.
Ally Connor’s life was split in two - before the car accident that shattered her spine, and after Jack’s sudden disappearance. Abandoning her when she needed him most, she fought hard to make it back from the brink. The face she shows to the world is strong and courageous, but behind the mask, the pain is burrowing deeper.
But fate had more in store for these two broken souls than either could have imagined. A funeral, a homecoming and a journey of self-discovery that would change both their lives - if they let it.
Suddenly, the secrets they want to hide from each other are the very secrets that could make them whole again.
Review by Amanda
Absolution is a story of second chance love, betrayal, friendships, family, lies, deception and most importantly forgiveness. It captured me from the start, and was full of emotional angst as well as doses of suspense and most importantly (for me anyway) romance.
Jack and Ally have been together for as long as anyone can remember, they are the odd couple who on paper don't make sense, but when you see them together, everything just magically fits together. They love each other beyond all reason and although opposite in every way, their relationship just works.
We also meet their best friend Callum - he is the joker of the trio, always finding the upside to everything, and always up for a drink at the pub or a laugh.
We begin the story with an event that takes place years prior - an event that completely shatters the lives of all the characters. Their reactions to this catastrophe shapes the tone of the book and almost immediately, our hearts are broken by what transpires, especially between Jack and Ally.
All of them are left scarred from the event, although not all scars can be seen by the eye, some are on the inside, and those are the hardest ones to recover from. Each character struggles in their own way to come to terms with how their lives have changed.
This part of the book was especially hard for me to read, you felt each characters struggles and could relate to the things they did - even if you didn't always understand their reasons for doing what they did. I felt a kinship with each character that grew more and more as I read the book.
Jack in some ways is the character that we should all love to hate, but to read his pain makes it palpable - he is not just a one dimensional character, that does thing on a whim. Everything that he has done has been because of his internal struggles. This is so beautifully written - it almost feels as if you are privvy to the inner workings of his mind. You feel as if you are enduring all he did and it makes the book absolutely magnificent. As the story unfolds and we learn the reasons for what Jack did and watch him commit himself to the new challenges at hand, it is almost like watching your child grow. He becomes the man we all want and know he can be - and it feels as if you can finally take a breath again. Jack is such a tragic character of hurt, pain, turmoil and anger - it is hard not to feel absolutely enamoured by him, especially as the story line continues.
Ally is probably the most damaged from the event - it has changed her life in so many ways, and not for the better. Although, she has become adept at managing herself and her life, she is no longer the person she once was. That is not easy for her to deal with and her frustration and struggles are incredibly real throughout the book. I love that Amanda Dick made this character real - in the sense that she was full of anger and pride. She took nothing lying down and if you pissed her off, she wasn't afraid to let you know. The strength of this character is nothing short of amazing and there were many times where I caught myself smiling just reading about her strength of will and most certainly her stubborness. I loved that about her. Ally has real struggles and although she does make my heart ache, for me I know, that she is just one of those characters that would never take things lying down - a true fighter. She touched my heart for that reason - she has been knocked down and yes, it may have taken her some time, but she is getting back up and grabbing life with both hands.
Callum, my dear sweet Callum. This book had me absolutely swooning for him. After the tragic event, he and Ally grow very close. He is the one that looks out for her and makes sure that all is right in her world - by whatever means necessary. He becomes her knight and her champion. Although, he has also had to endure the ramifications of his life being changed completely, he has stepped up to the plate and has ingratiated himself entirely in Ally's life. I love how Callum cared for Ally - it literally made my heart palpitate knowing what he had done and given up for her. It is clear to see that his feelings for Ally go beyond friendship, but it is very obvious that the love is unrequited. There is just something about a man who loves a woman so selflessly that really makes my knees go weak. I loved Callum and he is definitely my favorite character of the book. Although, he does love Ally, he doesn't take her shit and he is still all man - which I really loved, because sometimes these kinds of characters can become really wishy washy. Callum was still all male, he could most definitely still be an asshole and he had no problem calling things as he saw them. Callum you make me swoon - and I have it on good authority that you may well be getting your own book! I cannot wait for that one!
This book is not a light or easy read - it is going to leave you feeling gutted and broken. There are times when I had to put my kindle down and just take a breather because I promise you the pain you feel for each of these characters becomes a living and breathing thing. You connect so completely with them, that their pain becomes your pain. Amanda Dick teases us mercilessly with sparks of hope that things could work themselves out throughout the book - but just as things start to look happier, she again sweeps the rug from underneath us leaving me absolutely breathless. This rollercoaster ride of emotions absolutely sucked me in - I love books that give me the "feels" and I do read a lot, but for me this book has been the most tumultuous of any book I have ever read.
Nothing is tied up in a neat bow and there is no clear ending for the characters, although, I think as we read the story we know which way our hearts lie and how we want the storyline to end. As the story weaves its spell around us we become immersed in this world of pain, heartbreak and loss, and as it reaches its crescendo we feel the healing power of friendship, family and love. The book is not all doom and gloom, there are plenty of moments that are filled with humor and growth, that it will leave you breathless.
Primarily though for me though, this is a book about the power of people, the power of relationships and how obstacles, no matter how life changing they may seem, can be overcome. There is also a healthy dose of romance which adds to the texture of the book, it is not the central focus of the book, but it certainly does round the book of very well
The story flicks back and forth between the past and the present, so we are also made aware of the trials and tribulations that each of the character has gone through since the event. You experience all the highs and lows that they do. The movement between the past and present is seamless, it is not confusing and allows you to understand the complexity of each character knowing what they endured.
One of the things that also makes this novel different, is that it is told in the third person, it has been a while since I have read anything like that and I really enjoyed it.
This is a story about love and loss, it is a story about second chances and overcoming. It tells the tale of friends who have become family and takes you on a journey from the moment you open the page. This is also a story about hope and strength, about being able to rise once you have fallen. It was beautifully crafted and intricately detailed so that you could not help but be sucked into the lives of these (are they really fictional, because they seem real to me) characters.
Amanda Dick has really astounded me with this book - it is probably not something I would have ordinarily chosen for myself, but what an oversight that would have been. It is a unique tale that has been flawlessly written - the attention to detail is beyond incredible and the journey you are taken on is simply beyond words.
I also loved the quotes that she used as the start of each chapter - something completely different, but it always set the perfect tone! SIMPLY AMAZING
This is an AMAZING 5 Stars from me. It is a MUST read for me for 2015.
Meet Amanda Dick
Amanda Dick is a night-owl, coffee addict, movie buff, music lover and DIY queen. She is rather partial to dark chocolate and believes in the power of a good vanilla latte. There are very few crafts she hasn't tried, and she has a never-ending "to do" list.
Her debut novel, "Absolution", was released on 29 October 2013, with the second edition due for release on 7 January 2015. Her second novel, "Between Before and After", was released on 31 May 2014. She is currently working on her third novel, due to be released in mid-2015.
After living in Scotland for five years, she has now settled back home in her native New Zealand, where she lives with her husband and two children.