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The Confessional [Kindle Edition]

J.L. Powers
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $6.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.

From the Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews


“Power’s first novel powerfully combines timely story lines regarding illegal immigration, school violence, and racial tension.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred

From the Paperback edition.

About the Author

J. L. Powers, an educator and former newspaper writer, lives in San Bruno, California.

Product Details

  • File Size: 373 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0375838724
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf; Reprint edition (January 13, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,411,105 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Courtesy of Teens Read Too August 22, 2007
THE CONFESSIONAL is a book about murder, racism, anger, bullies, drugs, and fitting in, which takes place in an all-male Catholic private school located on the Mexican-American border.

After a random bomber blows up the international bridge that connects Mexico and the United States in El Paso, Texas, tensions escalate at the school. Nearing the one-year anniversary of the Mexican terrorist bombing, a fight breaks out between two boys at the school. One boy ends up in the hospital. The other boy ends up dead by the end of the day.

Mayhem follows. A racial riot erupts on the Cathedral steps after a special mass for the dead teen. Mexicans and Americans point fingers at one another. No one feels safe. Everyone is ready to fight. Will the boys be able to find out who killed their fellow student before someone else disappears? Before someone else is murdered? And at what cost? How many will go to jail before it's all over?

This is a gripping read and difficult to put down. It's an honest look at how quickly tempers can flare and get out of hand. Be warned, the language is also brutally authentic. In the beginning, the reader may struggle to keep all the boys straight in their head as I did. Don't worry about that. This book is told from multiple points of view. As each boy has his say, it becomes very clear who they are and you will have no trouble at all keeping them straight. This novel is incredible in its glaring realism. I give it five stars.

Reviewed by: Cana Rensberger
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read, no matter your age or beliefs October 2, 2007
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
J.L. Powers is an incisive writer with a great eye to the conflicts and challenges that face contemporary teens, especially in their interactions with religion, government and social systems. The 7 teen characters in _The Confessional_ are real, and oftentimes gritty, and Powers never shies away from showing us their complex emotions, and how these emotions can spurn them into actions condemned by contemoporary society. All of the characters, even the "bad" ones, have an undeniable humanity that allows the reader to see the bigger picture, and how the characters are a part of that big picture, for better or for worse.
Powers is an intelligent, thoughtful, and complex writer, and I eagerly await her next novel.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
The book provides a unique approach to education, religion, and race. A book reading was canceled by a private school in El Paso, TX because some Chief Justice (retired) at the school objected to the book. You would think that a retired Chief Justice would support freedom of speech. He thought the book was anti catholic and new many curse words. I found that the characters always turn to their religion when faced with difficult times. He and I must have read different books. Read the book and see who was correct in their analysis.
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Format:Mass Market Paperback
Reading The Confessional was a journey of understanding. I am a mother of boys. I love listening to their conversations about girls, the fight, the gangstas, the teachers who just don't get them, the lousy principal, etc. But it's difficult to understand them and why they do the things they do. As I read The Confessional the scenes came to life with images of the boys that I know and care for deeply. The story felt `real' because of the authenticity of these characters. In fact, I feel a bit shy to call them characters, they are boys. Boys just like my boys. Boys with pain, suffering, pride, loneliness, secrets, shame, egos, love, lust and sometimes too much energy/testosterone.
One of the main themes in the story is racism. It's the same story in my house, which is kind of surprising given that there is so much diversity in this area. However, I hear it all the time from my boys. The latinos versus the white guys, or the black guys, or the asian guys. What's interesting to me when I hear them talk like this in my own living room is that I am surrounded by Puerto Rican boys, (my sons), a Filipino, a Jew, a Mexican, an African American, a Caucasian, and a German, who get along very well. With these thoughts in mind I smiled to myself as I read the story and how they dissed each other at school. Although I stopped smiling when the fighting began. This brought memories of the fighting my oldest son used to get into. Can't these boys focus all that energy on something productive? They fight until someone has to go to the hospital. Of course I saw that coming. What I didn't see coming was the murder of
Mac Malone.
Mac's death, like any tragic event in our lives, is a moment for a reality check. It's when we take the time to do some soul searching.
Read more ›
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By M. Hori
Format:Mass Market Paperback
What struck me the most about this book is the author's "Negative Capability"--i.e. the successful manner in which she enters the lives and recreates the language of her characters. This takes a great deal of talent and Powers pulls it off in a way that is one click less than Tolstoyan. Though obviously written for young adults, The Confessional brightened a rainy afternoon in Tokyo for your humble correspondent, who is now pushing double nickles down the speedway of life in a rusted-out, pink Cadillac, his St. Christopher medal dangling from the rear-view mirror next to the fuzzy dice.
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More About the Author

The daughter of a geologist and a journalist, J.L. Powers spent much of her childhood camping and searching for fossils in the American West. She grew up on the U.S.-Mexico Border and, though she now lives in California, still considers El Paso home.

Powers is the author of three novels for young adults, The Confessional (Knopf, 2007); This Thing Called the Future (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011), and Amina (Allen & Unwin, 2013) and editor of two anthologies, That Mad Game: Growing up in a Warzone, an anthology of essays from around the world (Cinco Puntos Press, 2012) and Labor Pains and Birth Stories: essays on pregnancy, birth, and becoming a parent (Catalyst Book Press, 2009). Her first picture book, Colors of the Wind: The story of blind artist and champion runner George Mendoza, illustrated with Mendoza's stunning full-color paintings, will be released September 2014 by Purple House Press.

Powers writes for and edits The Pirate Tree (, a blog on social justice and children's literature. She also co-collaborates on Mother, Writer, Mentor (, a blog that deals with the topic of parenthood and writing. A frequent contributor to New Pages, she is currently at work on other projects. She lives with her family in northern California.


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