Confessions by Kanae Minato, translated by Stephen Snyder
Dare I say … this is one of the most horrifyingly gripping novels I’ve read in many years. That debut author Minae Minato wrote it, according to her bio, “between household chores” makes me shudder to think how frightening her next book might be now that she’s such an award-winning, internationally bestselling writer; surely any chores she’s still doing only happen in between plotting her next twisted tale.
Nothing haunts more than a dead child – and that’s how Confessions begins: Yūko Moriguchi’s young daughter is dead. She announces to her middle grade class that she’s retiring at the end of the month, and that she’ll never teach again. But before she goes, she’d “like to take some time today to talk to you about [what happened].”
Although her daughter’s death was officially ruled a drowning accident, Yūko knows otherwise: two of her own students were responsible. By the end of her talk, the class knows far too much about their teacher, the dead child, and the dead child’s dying father. They also know that Students A and B are not only guilty, but their teacher has put in motion her own revenge as she reveals she’s tainted A and B’s milk cartons. “The incubation period for the HIV virus is usually between five and ten years,” she calmly explains, “so that should give you plenty of time to think about the value of life. It’s my hope that you’ll come to understand what a terrible thing you’ve done, and that you’ll beg forgiveness from [daughter] Manami’s spirit.”
She’s managed to turn (mother’s) milk into a fatal weapon against children young enough to still be drinking milk daily at school, yet old enough to be murderers. And just like that, chapter 1 ends with “Class dismissed.” Go ahead, say it: WOW.
Revealed in cleverly dovetailing voices – of students, siblings, a mother’s diary – what happens from chapter to chapter is one shocker after another. Stick the book in your ears, and narrators Elaina Erika Davis and Noah Galvin will make sure to creep you out even more with each new alarming perspective.
And you thought hell hath no fury like a woman scorned … get ready to meet this mother torn – from her only child. You won’t want to believe what comes next and next and next!
Published: 2008 (Japan), 2014 (United States)