Guest Review: Confessions by Kanae Minato (3/5)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014
Her pupils killed her daughter. Now, she will have her revenge. 
 
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.

Reviewed by Gordon McGhie

The Japanese phenomenon - the story of a grief-stricken schoolteacher who comes face to face with absolute evil.

Before I start I would like to take a second to thank Shaun for allowing me to guest on his blog and would invite you to visit my own pages at www.grabthisbook.net
 
So to the book…the description gives you very little but Confessions is a short novel and it is hard to reveal too much of the story without spoiling the twists. 

Yuko Moriguchi is a teacher, during the course of the year Moriguchi suffered a personal tragedy when her daughter died in an accident. It is now the end of the school year and Moriguchi has one final message for her class – she knows that her daughter’s death was no accident and furthermore she knows that two of her students killed her daughter. Before her class is released for their holiday (and Moriguchi leaves the teaching profession forever) she discloses the identity of the killers to the whole class and reveals how she has exacted her revenge.

The opening section of the book is delivered entirely from Moriguchi’s viewpoint, a narration as we hear her address to the class. A clever device as once the class are dismissed Moriguchi slips from the story and the narrative is picked up by another. 

The pattern of Confessions is thus established. The narrative switches to one of the killers and we hear his side of the story, Moriguchi it seems did not have all the facts at her disposal. Throughout the course of the book the narration switches between five different participants who were either involved in the murder or were caught up in Moriguchi’s subsequent revenge. As each narrator picks up the tale they provide depth to the back story and we see how the consequences of Moriguchi’s actions unfold. 

As a story telling device I thought this element of Confessions worked really well. However, I had problems accepting what I was reading. The pupils in Moriguchi’s class are around 11 or 12 years old yet the featured characters all seem to be at extreme low points in their collective lives. Their actions and deeds just too implausible for me to buy into the story.

Let me be clear, I have read books where the world travels through space on the back of a giant turtle, others where vampires live alongside humans and my favourite fictional character is a 1200 year old Time Lord that travels in a blue box – I can suspend my belief in reality for the sake of a good story without any problem. However, Confessions just did not sit well – it started with real promise yet became more and more unbelievable while still trying to retain a degree of normality. 

It is impossible to explain the issues without revealing spoilers and I am sure that where I found irritations there will be many who enjoy the evil deeds that are depicted. There are twists a plenty and a very unexpected ending which should enthrall – it just wasn’t for me.

Overall there are a lot of clever elements to Confessions yet too many niggles for me to have embraced it. To rate it out of 5: I would not give it any more than a 3.

Thanks to Gordon for the review and the publisher for providing the copy. 

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