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. This is an unsettling, disturbing, and wickedly twisted story narrated from multiple POVs which, as the title suggests, consists of confessions.

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Before she became a bestselling novelist, Kanae Minato was a Japanese home economics teacher and housewife. It was published in to immediate acclaim, becoming a runaway hit and winning a slew of awards. The protagonist is Yuko Moriguchi, a victim and vigilante in ravenous search of revenge.

When Manami drowned in an apparent accident at the school swimming pool, Yuko grieved. Yuko reveals the first step in her plot for revenge during the course of a long resignation speech to her rapt middle-school class on the last day of the school year. Yuko is positioned as the hero, but as the plot unfolds, taking turn after sickening turn, her actions start looking maniacal, disproportionate, perhaps out-and-out unforgivable.

Meanwhile, the boy murderers induce almost sea-sickening sways between extremes of revulsion and sympathy. Shuya Watanabe and Naoki Shitamura are the uncontested killers of a 4-year-old child, but they are also damaged young teenagers who are pitiable even at their most ruthless. Shuya is the evil genius of the duo, a budding sociopath driven by a desperate, misguided longing for attention stemming from an unhappy childhood. He finds himself incapacitated by feelings of guilt and dirtiness, which Yuko is able to manipulate.

After the first step of her revenge, Naoki becomes a shut-in and Shuya is bullied by his classmates — fair enough but hard to stomach as these murderers reveal themselves to be damaged, vulnerable children. Minato spins out this gut-wrenching thrill ride with clean, high-impact language and a structure that allows for several points of view.

The story unfolds in six chapters featuring different narrators, all speaking in the first person under different conceits. Hot Property. About Us. Brand Publishing. Times News Platforms. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options.

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Review: Kanae Minato’s ‘Confessions’ hits its mark with a vengeance

T he language and presentation of the storytelling was very accessible. I should warn you now, much of what follows lands in the realm of spoiler. If you want to skip the spoilers and go directly to my opinion, proceed to the last two paragraphs. Yuko Moriguchi is the given the role of first and last confessor.


Review: 'Confessions' by Kanae Minato

As you're reading what had promised to be a garden-variety crime novel, it's thrilling when it gradually dawns on you that what you're holding in your hands is far deeper and larger, though no less entertaining, than what you expected. And when that realization comes on the very first page, as it does in Kanae Minato's "Confessions" a nasty little masterpiece published in English translation for the first time since it became a best-selling literary sensation in Minato's home country of Japan six years ago , the effect must be something like being tasered. Resistance to the novel's narrative momentum is futile; I read it in a single sitting, borne on a wave of dread as it billowed briskly toward its shocking, if arguably inevitable, conclusion. Along the way, I learned much — more, if truth be told, than I felt emotionally prepared to learn — about the damage inflicted by adults upon children, and the ways in which the young sometimes return it in kind, twisted and magnified, driven by a logic that to them seems as unassailable as it is horror-inducing.


Review of Kanae Minato’s novel “Confessions”

Junior high school teacher Yuko Moriguchi Takako Matsu announces to her class that she will resign before spring break. She reveals that because the HIV-positive father of her daughter Manami was ill, she used to bring four-year-old Manami to school with her. One day, her daughter was found drowned in the school swimming pool. She explains that two pupils in her class, whom she dubs "Student A" and "Student B", have murdered her daughter. She had found a small bunny purse among Manami's belongings which did not belong there, which led her to question Shuya, one of her students. Shuya, who immediately admitted to killing Manami, then mocked her compassionate reaction with "Just kidding. As a teacher, she believes she must teach them a lesson by making them amend for their mistakes.

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