CONFESSIONS by Kanae Minato
Mulholland Books, 2014
Confessions is one of the most twisted books I’ve ever read – it’s unsettling and at times downright disturbing. But it’s also an engaging revenge tale that’s so Aeschylean it could have been straight out of The Oresteia. I mean, naturally I loved it.
I read Kanae Minato’s second novel to be translated into English, Penance, earlier this year, and I really enjoyed it, but I was actually surprised by how similar Confessions ended up being. Each deals with the aftermath of a child’s death, and the revenge sought by the grieving mother. Both books are also told in a series of chapters which change point of views and tell the same story from different angles. In this case, the story centers around Yuko Morigucho, a teacher and a single mother whose daughter Manami was recently murdered by two of her students.
Admittedly the first chapter of Confessions, the one narrated by Moriguchi, ended up being my favorite. It went out on such a bang that I actually yelled out loud at the chapter’s final reveal. It’s genuinely one of the most shocking and disturbing twists I’ve ever read.
Though the other chapters didn’t end up being quite as strong, it was still a fast paced, engaging, sinister read. Rather ironically, the two chapters which I found the least interesting were the point of views of the two murderers (doesn’t that sound like it should be exciting?). By that point, the rehashing of the events was getting a bit stale, and neither perspective offered as much insight as it should have. But the rest of the chapters were rather brilliantly conceived and executed, and the final chapter was nearly as harrowing as the first. Altogether a compelling and haunting read that will stay with me.