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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

REVIEW: The Sin-Eater's Confession, by Ilsa J. Bick

The Sin Eater's Confession (Carolrhoda Ya)
Published 2013
People in Merit, Wisconsin, always said Jimmy was . . . you know. But people said all sorts of stupid stuff. Nobody really knew anything. Nobody really knew Jimmy. 

I guess you could say I knew Jimmy as well as anyone (which was not very well). I knew what scared him. And I knew he had dreams—even if I didn't understand them. Even if he nearly ruined my life to pursue them.

Jimmy's dead now, and I definitely know that better than anyone. I know about blood and bone and how bodies decompose. I know about shadows and stones and hatchets. I know what a last cry for help sounds like. I know what blood looks like on my own hands. 

What I don't know is if I can trust my own eyes. I don't know who threw the stone. Who swung the hatchet? Who are the shadows? What do the living owe the dead?

Wow. This book is heavy. It's tough. I'm not sure what I thought it would be, but good heavens it was tough. Like, took me a few days to get through it, because it impacted me. 

There were several teenage stresses in this book. The tamest of them is the tiger-mom--pushing her kid to be the best and work his butt off and "you can rest and play later." Ben's mom has him booked, solid, all with the intention of getting him into Yale, and then medical school. Seriously, nothing can stand in the way, and Ben, honey, you can sleep when you're dead.

Ben is also dealing with secrets. His secrets, Jimmy's secrets. And fighting rumors that have no basis in truth. It is so very tough. And dealing with them all on his own, because what he knows could end everything he's worked for, even though he is innocent.

I think Bick's work as a child psychiatrist is precisely what makes this work so well. What makes Ben's story so compelling. She truly understands the inner workings of the mind that would be Ben's. It is hard to read his pain. Because, if you're like me, you feel it.

This isn't a YA novel for the junior high set. I'd be hard-pressed to give it to my freshman or most of my sophomores, but I think my juniors and seniors could take it. It has the potential to make for some great discussion.

Be prepared, there is some gore and Bick doesn't sugarcoat it . This book does deal with homosexuality and the cruelty that can be dished out, and while it's central to the story, it's not the most important part of the story.

What do you think??

Shop Indie BookstoresDisclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from Carolrhoda Lab through the netGalley publisher/reader connection program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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