Confessions, by Kanae Minato

Eight starsNeeding a quick book to fill my time before ending a holiday, I turned to Kanae Minato’s debut thriller that spins a murderous tale from many perspectives. Yuko Moriguchi has chosen to retire from teaching after her young daughter drowned in a pool. As a single mother, the death hit hard and Moriguchi faces her students one final time to deliver an end of year lecture. During this final address, she admits that the death of her daughter was no accident and that two students are responsible, choosing not to reveal them to the class. She has taken it upon herself to exact a form of revenge, even after the police deemed the death an accident. What follows is a telling of the events through the eyes of many, each with their own truths and revelations. The students, parents, and Moriguchi herself are touched by these perspectives, which enrich the revenge and leave everyone a little more vulnerable to the truth. A wonderfully crafted story that keeps the reader’s attention throughout. Those who love a thriller with many hidden revelations will enjoy this and need not worry about the translation, as it keeps a seamless narrative.While this book is apparently an international sensation, I had not heard about it. I am glad I scrolled through my local library and found it, which has fit nicely into the end of my holiday reading period. Minato does well in presenting this piece, which allows the reader to see the story (particularly the crime) through the eyes of many characters, thereby offering motives and enriching the greater story. Yuko Moriguchi is an interesting character, given the first opportunity to tell her version of events. The reader is likely locked into this truth through the long opening chapter and their beliefs are only then shaped by subsequent characters, all of whom twist events slightly to their favour while peppering the narrative with new facts. The various perspectives are strong and depict the differences in age, mentality, and ability of those given the narrative reins, which can force a reader to relax their preconceived notions. The story is not like anything I have read before, both because of its Japanese-influenced references and individualised approach to the subject matter. This is unlike many thrillers, English and translated alike, that I have read, proving both refreshing and mind-cramping. I was impressed to see the story develop as it did and am interested to read Minato’s second piece, which seems to be receiving the same type of praise.Kudos, Madam Minato, for such a thought-provoking novel. Full of the criminal element and personal angst, I can see why you received such literary praise.A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: