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Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review: Blank Confession (Hautman)

Title: Blank Confession
Author: Hautman
Genre: Fiction, Mysteries, Murder, Bullying
Pages: 170
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Last summer, I went through a stretch where I didn't read anything that rated higher than 3 stars, and those were the good ones. However, this past month, I am apparently making up for that. Everything that I've read rates 3, 4, and 5 stars!

"Blank Confession" opens when Shayne Blank walks into the local police station and confesses to a murder. Shayne is the new kid in town, and he's not talking about his background. But he is talking about the murder, and has no problem telling the detective the story that led up to the killing.

Even though Shayne is the one confessing, the story alternates between two unlikely narrators: the detective listening to the confession, and Mikey, a kid that Shayne befriended to protect him from a bully. For me it is unusual that Shayne is the one confessing, but he is not the narrator of the story. Mikey and Shayne have only been friends for a short time when the story takes place. But when Mikey comes under attack by a drug-dealing bully, Shayne jumps in to rescue him and unfortunately makes matters worse. Both boys attempt to right the wrongs they see. The narrators parcel out the story, and through it we see the quick development of the boys' friendship, and the growth that Mikey makes.

We never really know quite what to make of Shayne, and that is an intential part of the mystery. It is not a mystery that someone is killed; the mystery is who ends up dead. Hautman weaves a compelling story that will keep readers turning the pages. Just when you think you have it all figured out, you realize that you could be wrong when another bad guy is introduced. It will keep you guessing until the end.

Because there are some elements introduced in the book that are not quite "junior high appropriate," this is definitely a book for high school and up. However, fans of Hautman will not be disappointed. Likewise, if you like gritty, fast-paced, whodunits, this is a first-rate choice!


Alison said...

This one sounds interesting. Pete Hautman is amazing. I love how he writes completeley different books. You can't peg him down into one genre.

Ms. Yingling said...

Drat. It amazes me the number of middle school students who want books about murder and prostitutes... and are surprised I don't have many. Hmmm.

Anne Bennett said...

I'm a recent Pete Hautman fan and really must read more of his books. I can't seem to read fast enough to keep up with my students "need" for recommendations. So I always recommend the same books. Ha!


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