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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Sin-Eater's Confession - Ilsa Bick

Released January 2013

Ilsa J. Bick
Carolrhoda Young Adult

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

The Sin-Eater's Confession is a rather dark look at the life of a Wisconsin teen, Ben. The story starts on the battle lines. Ben is military medic, a career shaped by his life and something that happened years ago. After that, the story goes back in time.

The events surround Ben's friendship with a younger boy named Jimmy. After Jimmy's brother, a popular local football star, dies, Ben helps out at their farm. He befriends Jimmy, a boy who is abused verbally and even physically by his highly-religious father.

When Ben learns that Jimmy is very interested in photography, something Jimmy's father would never understand, he encourages Jimmy to make his dreams come true. That leads to Jimmy entering a photo contest with a rather sensual picture Jimmy takes of Ben sleeping in the barn without Ben's knowledge or permission. When the photo hits the newsstands, rumors of Ben and Jimmy being gay spark unimaginable events that change both teens' lives.

 The story is told through letters Ben is writing to explain what happened and through flashbacks. There is some violence, so parents will want to decide if their child is mature enough to read it. There is also the conflict, especially with Ben's church and parents, about how being gay is a sin. I hate the intolerance, but sadly it happens in many communities.

I admit there were times that I wanted to smack Ben. He handles many things poorly, but then that is part of being a teen. They're not always the most sensible people out there. That leads to a level of honesty that many readers will find refreshing, even if it the topic at hand is rather grim.

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