I enjoyed the way The Sin-Eater's Confession was written. We learn that our main character (I don't know his name, and I'm not sure it was ever used) is in Afghanistan. He's ready to volunteer for a mission from which it is quite likely he won't survive. But first, he has to get something off his chest. He's been hiding a secret that is eating him up, and he's going to write a letter and tell us about it.
He was a straight-A student and had applied to attend Yale. He wanted to be a doctor. He worked two jobs, volunteered in the local ER, studied, took a couple of college courses, and didn'tt have much time for anything else. But when a friend dies, he helped out on the family's dairy farm and ends up taking his friend's little brother, Jimmy, under his wing.
This leads to all kinds of problems, and I really don't want to go into too much detail. Jimmy does something to make his parents so mad that they take him out of school, and forbid our main character from coming near him. Jimmy has also ruined the reputation of our main character, making everyone think they might have had a homosexual relationship.
Things spiral out of control. A most interesting aspect is living this through the eyes of our main character. He's questioning his relationship with Jimmy just like everyone else. He's never had a relationship with a girl, so does that mean he's gay? The inner dialog is realistic and heartbreaking.
Everything gets worse when he witnesses some violence and does nothing about it. We see him struggling to decide what to do (and making some really stupid choices) and because of this inner turmoil the rest of his life pretty much falls apart.
I couldn't put The Sin-Eater's Confession down. I was riveted, wondering what he would decide to do. Wondering how he ended up so far from his original path. The family dynamic is excellent. His parents are caring, but not perfect. He doesn't have many friends, but he uses them effectively. The town was, unfortunately, probably typical of a small town. "We don't have any gays here." And the pastor and his followers are creepy and awful.
The Sin-Eater's Confession uses a somewhat dramatic situation to describe absolutely realistic reactions. Bick has a background in psychology, and it is much evident in The Sin-Eater's Confession. Fans of realistic fiction won't want to pass this one up.
Published by Carolrhoda Books, January 1, 2013
eBook obtained from NetGalley
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