Translated by Stephen Snyder
Publication date: August 2014
Publisher: Mulholland Books
When Yuko Moriguchi’s four-year-old daughter died in the middle school where she teaches, everyone thought it was a tragic accident.
It’s the last day of term, and Yuko’s last day at work. She tells her students that she has resigned because of what happened – but not for the reasons they think.
Her daughter didn’t die in an accident. Her daughter was killed by two people in the class. And before she leaves, she has a lesson to teach…
But revenge has a way of spinning out of control, and Yuko’s last lecture is only the start of the story. In this bestselling Japanese thriller of love, despair and murder, everyone has a confession to make, and no one will escape unharmed.
I picked up Confessions solely for the blurb, I don’t remember how I came across it originally, I assume it appeared in my Amazon recommendations.
I have to admit I put this down for a moment near the beginning to Google some basic info on Japanese school systems. In my quiet corner of England ‘middle school’ is also known as junior school for kids aged 7-11. I was mighty confused between Confessions‘ milk giving scenario and murderous school children so had to stop and better acquaint myself with Japanese culture. It’s handy to know going in that ‘middle school’ refers to children aged 13-15 years old.
Confessions is split over several POVs:
Murderer B’s family
There were moments I found myself so disgusted with these character’s perspectives that I almost put the book down. I found several of the main characters to be insufferable, whingy narcissists.
I particularly disliked the evolving relationship between a seemingly well-adjusted character and a known murderer, I couldn’t fathom how anybody could possibly develop an attraction to a cold blooded child killer -under any set of circumstances.
A necessity to understand the behaviour of others is a tic of mine, I am easily irritated when I cannot comprehend another person’s reasoning. I don’t need to agree with it but I have to know their thought process and intended outcome.
During the first half of Confessions there is no hint of such explanation and the murder of a child committed by a child seems almost flippant. Juvenile Law is well explained at the beginning of this story, nevertheless an entire classrooms decision not to inform any authorities of such a horrific deed really turned my stomach.
When at last I was treated to the inner workings of Murderer B’s mind I was uncomfortable and annoyed. I felt a huge disconnect between his psychological difficulties and their by-product. Almost as if I expected him to have suffered worse fates at home to help explain his murderous mind.
However, looking at the real world around us and perpetrator insights provided by news reporters following many such violent events, I cannot argue that the plot is unbelievable.
I felt parenting was the strongest theme in Confessions; the psychological effect a mother’s behaviour can have on her children and the product of a teachers’ influence over their students.
Beneath this beats a strong current of our need to control the way others perceive us and the lengths some will go to achieve it.
I was perilously close to a DNF at around 75% but since Confessions was a fairly short read at only 240 pages, I decided to finish it. I am SO glad I did. What a fantastic ending!
I’ve said before that my entire opinion of a book can be turned on its head depending on my judgement of the ending (read more about this here: 8 Best and Worst Fictional Endings ). Confessions did not disappoint. I’d conceded much earlier to disliking this title, when BOOM the ultimate revenge hand played skilfully in the closing chapters had me doing a complete one-eighty.
I bought this title as an Amazon eBook. Be warned the formatting is clunky; varying sizes and colours of text meant I was often snapped out of the intended atmosphere. As previously mentioned the story is written in first person from multiple POVs but the inconsistent use of quotation marks and italics make it sometimes difficult to follow.
It took me approximately 3 hours to read Confessions after purchasing it for £1.99. For the time and money spent I will say this was a worthy investment, but I wouldn’t rush to acquire it and I definitely wouldn’t pay more.