Review–The Sin-Eater’s Confession by Isla J. Bick

The Sin-Eater’s Confession
by Isla J. Bick
Summary: People in Merit, Wisconsin, always said Jimmy was . . . you know. But people said all sorts of stupid stuff. Nobody really knew anything. Nobody really knew Jimmy.
I guess you could say I knew Jimmy as well as anyone (which was not very well). I knew what scared him. And I knew he had dreams—even if I didn't understand them. Even if he nearly ruined my life to pursue them.
Jimmy's dead now, and I definitely know that better than anyone. I know about blood and bone and how bodies decompose. I know about shadows and stones and hatchets. I know what a last cry for help sounds like. I know what blood looks like on my own hands.
What I don't know is if I can trust my own eyes. I don't know who threw the stone. Who swung the hatchet? Who are the shadows? What do the living owe the dead?
Source: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.



I absolutely loved The Sin-Eater’s Confession. I was drawn in immediately and found Ben’s voice to be captivating as he narrated the story. I couldn’t put this down. The narration was a bit angsty, but in a way that I found believable. The story felt real for the most part, as if it could’ve been a memoir. In some ways, The Sin-Eater’s Confession reminded me of a much darker, twisted and tragic The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky.

Ben’s story had me on the edge of my seat. I wanted to know what happened next and how the entire event would play out. The book started out with him in Afghanistan in the military, so we knew where he eventually ended up. But when he began to write about the events that took place in his hometown, I wondered how on earth he ended up there. I really loved Ben’s character and his voice, even if I don’t necessarily agree with the choices and actions he took. I couldn’t help but feel so many emotions.

This may be a bit too much information and I hate to spoil the book for anyone, but my favorite thing about it is the real life aspect of the book: The way that not everything happens for a reason and the way that not everything works out or even has an ending. In life, there is so much we don’t know and it’s the same with the book. So much of the story is speculation, rumors, guesses and some events had no conclusion. This is not a book that is wrapped up neatly. While it’s satisfying, the reader is left with many questions and not a whole lot of answers. I absolutely loved this aspect of it because it made the story stick with me and feel real. It also makes a point about assumptions and rumors and perceptions. The Sin-Eater’s Confession had so many important messages about figuring out who we are in life, finding direction, doing the right thing, dealing with bigotry, making assumptions, escaping rumors, dealing with violence, guilt, domestic abuse, family, etc.

The only negative thing I can say about the story is that Ben isn’t always a likeable character and some of his choices and actions drove me nuts. Some of the events seemed a little over the top and I was reminded while reading that regardless of how it reads, it’s definitely fiction, and I would have liked it to have kept itself grounded in reality. Also, while I loved the fact that not everything resolved, it was also kind of frustrating.

This didn’t bother me, but the book is VERY GRAPHIC. Some of the scenes are extremely descriptive. And I don’t mean there’s just blood and gore, I mean there are details beyond that. I cannot stress this enough. It’s seriously graphic and gross and detailed. Also, I think people who live in small towns may be offended by the way the people of Merit are represented, especially in regards to their feelings about homosexuality. Very religious people may also be offended by the way some of the members of a church are represented and the way the narrator views them. However, while the characters may be exaggerated, I don’t believe it’s overly offensive or ridiculously over the top. Obviously the bigotry is a major part of the book, so it’s not for nothing and it’s necessary to the story.

I definitely recommend this book to others. I think it’s an important story and I found it extremely captivating. I’m surprised by the low ratings of the book.

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