A dark, dystopic portrait of Japanese adolescence gone wrong. If Albert Camus had written Heathers, it would have looked a lot like this.”

 

NO MAJOR SPOILERS

I read Confessions by the same author and was so amazed by it that I picked up this one next.

And my reaction was literally OMG!

This twisted tale of what perceived guilt and the notion that you are under threat from someone who wants something you cannot give, is even more disturbing and dark than her earlier novel!

Five ten year olds are playing together and a stranger appears asking for help. They think nothing of it until one of them, Emily, is found assaulted and murdered later the same day!

Shocked by this tragedy and mad with grief, Emily’s mother wants the other four to help identify the murderer but they cannot recall any details about him that would help.

So she threatens them that she would exact her revenge from each of them unless they did appropriate penance.

For the four girls, this is the beginning of years of wondering what is acceptable penance for a situation like this and whether they are in fact, guilty of any offense in the first place.

How each of them deals with the aftermath is told in their own voices until the narrative winds to a terrific conclusion.

As in her previous offering, this one offers insights into how the environment and parenting in particular, affect a child’s perspective.

Specific to the country this book is set in, Japan, certain aspects of the culture are totally weird to one who isn’t a part of it!

What was most impressive for me was how the effect of the same words on four children was deftly told. The cast of characters was sketched impressively and I marveled at the thought that went into the traits that made their stories unique.

Of course there are some chilling moments as the story builds up to the point where the question to be asked is.. who was punished and who, if any, performed penance.

Read this not as a crime thriller but for its stunning portrayal of human nature!

 

Reviewed by:

Priya Prakash

Added 30th January 2018

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Priya Prakash