Synopses & Reviews
When longtime animosities between a Mexican and a white American student at a Texas high school finally flare into violence, one ends up in the hospital with a broken arm and a fractured ego. A few hours later, the other ends up dead. In the reverb, friends and enemies alike are left to grapple with loss, suspicion, and rapidly escalating racial tensions. Narrated with brutal candor by six boys — each with a very different take on the week's events— The Confessional blends murder mystery, contemporary politics, and high school drama to create a gritty, fast-paced read.
"'Powers's first novel powerfully combines timely story lines regarding illegal immigration, school violence and racial tension. The first of six narrators, MacKenzie Malone attends a Jesuit high school in El Paso, Tex., where most of the Mexican students have branded him a racist after the controversial letter to the editor he's written appears in the local newspaper. Off his Ritalin (he's traded it for coke) and unable to take the taunting, Mackenzie beats up a Mexican classmate so badly that the guy ends up in the hospital. That night Mackenzie, still narrating, is stabbed to death in his front yard. In subsequent chapters, six boys among them witnesses, suspects, friends react to the news and reveal their own disturbing secrets as they alternately narrate. On the surface, the characters fall into stock roles (the closeted gay friend, the brilliant kid hiding behind a stoner persona, the geeky outcast, the peacemaker, and so on), but the author carefully individuates their back stories even as she links the boys via their common fears. If some of the voices sound a little similar and if some of the action seems implausible, the psychological drama as a whole has enough depth and dimension to compensate. The structure Powers builds is ambitious, and she manipulates it for maximum surprise. Ages 14-up. (July)' Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)"
"Power's first novel powerfully combines timely story lines regarding illegal immigration, school violence, and racial tension." Publishers Weekly
Mexican guy. White guy. Classmates and enemies from across the border and on each other's turf. Big fight. White guy wins. Next day, he's dead. Everyone's a suspect. Everyone's guilty of something.
Does what you look like or where you come from finally determine where your loyalties lie? Who's Us? Who's Them? Which side is your side? Is it Truth?
Contemporary politics, the consequences of guys-being-guys, and questions about faith and personal responsibility pulse throughout the pages of this provocative, eloquent debut.
From the Hardcover edition.
About the Author
J. L. Powers's yen to tell the story of The Confessional began when she worked on a local paper and taught writing in El Paso, Texas. She lives in San Bruno, California.