A mismatched group of individuals attend a common acquaintance’s wedding. Perhaps not an unheard of plotline—however, David Hicks delivers the time-honored combination in his second novel, Amateurs, with a refreshing originality that develops not from the plot but from his complex and realistic characters.
Archer, around whom the story functions, takes up the baton of “quirky, jealousy-inducing groom”, but is not without his own shortcomings and humanistic downfalls. Around him floats a constantly intertwining cast including, but not limited to: Sara, an old friend with a stifled authorial dream and a minor superiority complex; Karyn, a distant cousin with a sweet kid and a near-stranger in tow to the wedding; Lucas, down on his luck but hitching a promising ride; and John, a master of none but amateur in bike creation, dapper suiting, and live-in caretaking.
The reader is introduced to the numerous characters from Archer’s past through a patchwork of flashbacks, ranging from 2005 to 2011. Though quite dense and seemingly without a plot-based throughline during the character introductions, it is a read worth staying with. The writing is charming, clever, and well-planned as the story begins to unify.
Amateurs’ biggest success presents itself through the insightful and subtle characterization of each individual through the eyes of another. The interactions are genuine and observations are often off-the-cuff, but essential to the overall depth of Archer, Sara, and the rest. The lack of plot would typically be detrimental to a work of fiction, but Hicks keeps the novel alive with beautifully imperfect characters and incessant wit. A reader often finds themselves in stitches by stories of ludicrous Facebook-profile photo shoots between mother and son and fantastically weird fiancés.
Overall, Amateurs is a clever, well-crafted story of friendship, failure, resentment, and, above all, striking humanness.
Pages: 262 // Publisher: Coffee House Press // ISBN: 978-1566894326 // Publication Date: May 2016 // Fiction- Satire