One of my 7th period students, Frank, handed me this book Friday afternoon and said, “You have to read this.” I’m glad I opened Blank Confession (Simon and Schuster 2010) by Pete Hautman. Frank was right. This is a book you don’t want to miss. (You probably do want to miss the book reports on Hautman’s website. I’ve read them, and I wouldn’t give them a C–much lower. At least, they did make me laugh, laugh quite loudly, in fact.)
There is a kid named Shayne Blank. Once I got to the end, I discovered just how fitting and symbolic his name is, but you’ll have to read the book for yourself to find out why. Shayne is the new kid in school. He becomes friends with Mikey, a dorky short kid who wears suits every day. Shayne’s not looking for trouble, but trouble finds him in the person of Jon Brande–bully and a drug dealer and the boyfriend of Mikey’s sister. Yep, there’s a lot of potential for drama here.
The story opens with Shayne walking into the police station and confessing to killing someone. How did this quiet student end up here? You find out how the story unfolds through the voices of two characters. Detective Rawls, who takes Shayne’s confession, is not sure what to believe from Shayne’s story. He also has his own history with the people involved. The rest of the story is told by Mikey. He is struggling to survive (there’s a strong possibility Jon Brande just might kill him) when Shayne appears and sticks up for him. Even though Shayne’s story changes every hour, Mikey can’t help but like the new kid. Now he just needs to think ahead enough moves (like in the checkers games he plays with his grandpa) before things spiral out of control.