Author: Kanae Minato
No. of Pages: 240
Origins: Mulholland Books
Release Date: 19 August 2014
Bottom Line: Dark and twisty and everything I love in novels
“After an engagement that ended in tragedy, all Yuko Moriguchi had to live for was her four-year-old child, Manami. Now, after a heartbreaking accident on the grounds of the middle school where she teaches, Yuko has given up and tendered her resignation.
But first, she has one last lecture to deliver. She tells a story that will upend everything her students ever thought they knew about two of their peers, and sets in motion a maniacal plot for revenge.
Narrated in alternating voices, with twists you’ll never see coming, Confessions probes the limits of punishment, despair, and tragic love, culminating in a harrowing confrontation between teacher and student that will place the occupants of an entire school in harm’s way. You’ll never look at a classroom the same way again.”
Thoughts: Confessions has one job to do, and it does it well. There is no flash to the story. It is as straight-forward a narrative as one can get. Each of the narrators tells his or her story with no fuss, little embellishment, and a sincerity that is chilling in its emotion or lack thereof. Moriguchi sets the tone as she dispassionately tells the tale of her daughter’s murder and her revenge. The rest of the stories follow the same pattern, revealing more about the key figures involved in the drama and ratcheting up the tension as Moriguchi’s revenge takes effect.
Where the story starts and where it finishes are a complete surprise. Readers get inklings that the story is going to take such a dark turn, but even the savviest reader will miss just how disturbing it is going to get. The truly amazing thing is that the revenge plot and its aftermath are not unreasonable. In fact, the whole plot has logic about it that does somewhat excuse the narrators’ behaviors. There is still plenty of behavior with which readers should and will find fault, but the idea of restitution, and the methodical way in which Ms. Minato justifies it, is a powerful one that places a reader’s sympathy on characters who may or may not entirely deserve it.
Confessions is one of those twisty novels which drives home the point that it is impossible to know exactly what someone else is thinking, feeling, and experiencing. The various confessions are scandalous in what they reveal about all of the characters, especially as readers are already experiencing bias given what others have previously shared. The story is also a particularly telling statement about modern judicial systems and the lack of justice in certain scenarios. Confessions will simultaneously shock and awe at the depths people will go to seek revenge, acceptance, and/or attention.