Hautman, Pete. Blank Confession
Simon & Schuster/Little Brown 2010 170p 16.99
978-1-4424-1028-2 ms/hs Conflict VG
Mysterious Shayne befriends the smallest boy in school, neutralizes bullies and confronts the school drug dealer. Why is he in the police station confessing to a murder? And who did he kill? As with many of Hautman’s books, the pleasure is getting to the enigmatic surprise ending. And, as with many of his protagonists, all is not as it seems on the surface. The story moves back and forth, from the interrogation room and a uneasy policeman, to Mikey, a undersized high school student who is befriended by the mysterious Shane Blank. A drug dealer, his “shadows” and girlfriend (who is Mikey’s older sister), and the rooftop of a condo all collide in an ending that seems predictable, yet still manages to confound the reader. As with Invisible, readers will know that there is something not quite right about the altruistic Shane, but they will have to wait until the end to really find out who and what he is.
Hautman has built a following of readers who like quirky characters, slightly troubling plots and twisted endings. While this is not as good as Invisible or Godless, it is an engrossing story. Great for reluctant readers, especially guys, but girls will also be drawn to this novel. Fans of Todd Strasser, Terry Trueman and John Green will enjoy this and others of Hautman’s novels. Recommended for high school and upper middle school collections. Hautman’s books are always compelling and will appeal to even the most reluctant readers. Naismith, Pat