Blank Confession

Blank Confession

3.8 13
by Pete Hautman

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Shayne Blank is the new kid in town--but that doesn't stop him from getting into a lot of trouble very quickly. The other kids don't understand him. He's not afraid of anything. He seems too smart. And his background doesn't add up. But when he walks into the police department to confess to a murder, it quickly becomes apparent that nothing is as it seems. There's


Shayne Blank is the new kid in town--but that doesn't stop him from getting into a lot of trouble very quickly. The other kids don't understand him. He's not afraid of anything. He seems too smart. And his background doesn't add up. But when he walks into the police department to confess to a murder, it quickly becomes apparent that nothing is as it seems. There's more to Shayne--and his story--than meets the eye. As the details begin to fill in, the only thing that becomes clear is that nothing about Shayne's story is clear at all.

Blank Confession is a compelling mystery that will keep readers turning pages, from National Book Award-winning author Pete Hautman.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
One of the oldest tropes--a stranger comes to town--gets fresh treatment in this gripping whodunit. Sixteen-year-old Shayne Blank arrives at the police station to confess to murder; his story spills out in chapters that alternate with those of Mikey Martin, the smallest junior at Wellstone High, and George Rawls, the grizzled veteran cop who takes Shayne's confession. Shayne, a larger-than-life character with ninja lightness and several different versions of his backstory, rides into the school parking lot on a battered motorcycle. He immediately befriends Mikey, a highly appealing underdog who compensates for his lack of stature by dressing "big," in three-piece suits he buys at a thrift store near a synagogue ("ll those thirteen-year-old Jewish kids wear them once for their bar mitzvah then grow out of them"). Mikey has riled his sister's boyfriend, Jon, primary supplier to the school's stoner population, when Shayne comes to his aid. Though the story has many dark moments, Mikey's self-deprecating narration keeps it from getting too serious, and Hautman's skillful pacing, funny dialogue, and fully realized characters make this a taut mystery that's nearly impossible to put down. Ages 12–up. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
* "Masterfully written with simple prose, solid dialogue and memorable characters, the tale will grip readers from the start and keep them reading in one big gulp, in the hope of seeing behind Shayne’s mask. A sure hit with teen readers."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "Hautman's skillful pacing, funny dialogue, and fully realized characters make this a taut mystery that's nearly impossible to put down."--Publishers Weekly, starred review

"Blank Confession’s deft and timely exploration of bullying will find an eager audience among teens searching for gripping, realistic fiction. Steer readers who appreciated Michael Harmon’s Brutal (Knopf, 2009) and Courtney Summers’s Some Girls Are (St. Martin’s, 2010) to this novel."--School Library Journal

"With lightning-fast pacing, plenty of dialogue, and a modest page count, this will be an easy sell to teens on the prowl for a quick-pick thriller. "--The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

" [A] character-driven thriller."--The Horn Book

Children's Literature - Amanda Ledbetter
Detective Rawls does not know what to believe about the sixteen-year-old kid sitting across from him in the interrogation room. Shayne Blank, the new kid in town, has come to the police station to give his confession to murder, and he spends the next few hours describing the events leading to his actions. Interwoven with Shayne's account is the first person perspective of the same events told by Mikey Martin, Shayne's classmate and friend. Both boys share episodes of their interactions with Jon Brande, school bully and drug dealer. He blames Mikey for the loss of some of his drugs, demanding a $500 repayment under threat of bodily harm. Shayne intervenes, hoping to reason with Jon, but his actions only result in violent consequences. This story moves quickly and builds suspense to its end as readers wait to see if Shayne's opening confession proves true. Its treatment of bullying, a problem in many schools today, is handled seriously and realistically. The theme of vigilante justice runs throughout, opening the door for debate on whether or not it is effective or appropriate. The conclusion may leave some readers unsatisfied, but it presents creative writing opportunities for educators who are so inclined. Reviewer: Amanda Ledbetter
VOYA - Matthew Weaver
In the gripping first chapter, grizzled detective George Rawls takes the confession of a mysterious teenage boy who says he has committed murder. As Shayne Blank tells his story to Rawls, readers go back and see events unfold, narrated by Mikey Martin, the school's resident "weird kid," who dresses in three-piece suits and winds up on the wrong side of bad boy Jon Brante. When Jon gives Mikey his stash of drugs to avoid a police search, Mikey stuffs it into the trash can in the boy's bathroom—and loses it. Jon demands reimbursement, but new kid Shayne steps in to protect Mikey. Further complicating things is the fact Mikey's sister, Marie, is dating Jon. Even more complicated? She's starting to eye Shayne. Hautman proves he is not one to shy away from tough ideas with his National Book Award winner, Godless (Simon & Schuster, 2005/VOYA October 2004), and Blank Confession follows suit. Here he delves into racial heritage, drug use, violence, bullying, and female self-esteem (why does Marie alter her behavior to match the boy she's currently got the hots for?). But Hautman wraps the slew of social issues into a mystery thriller that holds the reader's attention all the way through, with a few twists along the way. The book is like having a rock hurled through your living room window only to learn it is a diamond: While the ending is a touch predictable and a little too cozy, the overall tale is a nice blend of tough, uneasy grit with softer spots that sparkle. Reviewer: Matthew Weaver
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up—This simple, engaging story opens with Shayne Blank sitting in a police station, about to give a murder confession. Hautman effectively employs flashback sequences and alternating narratives to enlighten readers as to the sequence of events that led to Shayne's dramatic revelation. When high school junior Mikey Martin finds himself the target of a sadistic bully, he gains an unlikely ally in the quiet and mysterious new kid, Shayne. Quirky, with a tendency to let his mouth get him in trouble, Mikey masks his insecurities by wearing suits to school and exuding false bravado. His troubles start when he throws away a bag of drugs forced on him for safekeeping by his sister's drug-dealing boyfriend. Consequently, Mikey is threatened with bodily injury unless he pays Jon $500 (the arbitrary replacement fee for the drugs). Shayne offers to help Mikey sort out his situation; unfortunately, Jon is an intransigent bully who refuses to listen to reason, resulting in several confrontations between him and Shayne that culminate in a violent showdown with shocking consequences. Hautman does a commendable job of handling tough issues such as bullying, domestic violence, and drug abuse, and he infuses tense situations with humor. In spite of a conclusion that feels too neat and somewhat forced, Blank Confession's deft and timely exploration of bullying will find an eager audience among teens searching for gripping, realistic fiction. Steer readers who appreciated Michael Harmon's Brutal (Knopf, 2009) and Courtney Summers's Some Girls Are (St. Martin's, 2010) to this novel.—Lalitha Nataraj, Chula Vista Public Library, CA
Kirkus Reviews

A stranger rides into town on a battered old BMW motorcycle and with mad ninja skills stands up to the drug-dealing bullies in the high school, then walks into the police station and confesses to murder. In a tale reminiscent of Shane and The Lone Ranger ("Who was that masked man, anyway?"), three narratives intertwine to tell the story of Shayne Blank—his own statement to Detective Rawls, Rawls's story and the story of Mikey Martin, the smallest kid in the 11th grade, whom Shayne protects from drug trafficker Jon Brande. Hautman weaves the narrative threads perfectly to provide back story and to advance the plot, expertly developing fully realized characters and, ultimately, pinpointing exactly where the stories don't cohere, where all is not quite what it seems. Masterfully written with simple prose, solid dialogue and memorable characters, the tale will grip readers from the start and keep them reading in one big gulp, in the hope of seeing behind Shayne's mask. A sure hit with teen readers. (Fiction. 12 & up)

Product Details

Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

Pete Hautman is the author of Godless, which won the National Book Award, and many other critically acclaimed books for teens and adults, including Blank Confession, All-In, Rash, No Limit, Invisible, and Mr. Was, which was nominated for an Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America. Pete lives in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Visit him at

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Blank Confession 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
steffiebaby140 More than 1 year ago
Having never read a book by Pete Hautman before I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. I had read a review from someone I know who loved it, and it sounded intriguing so I picked up a copy to see if my first impression was correct. Initially I was excited by this book. It was being told through the POV of a friend of Shayne’s who knew the story that he was telling to the cops. This was interesting but not fascinating. I didn’t really connect with the character and I feel that it made it VERY obvious what was going to happen based on who was narrating and what he said. But even though I had the horrible feeling it was going to end up exactly like I suspected by chapter 2, I carried on. I don’t really feel like all that much happened in this book. The tension level was set at 10 from the beginning of the book, but then nothing really happens and we’re hearing all these extraneous details that I didn’t really care about. I wanted to know who Shayne killed and why, I didn’t want to know about his friend who wears second-hand suits to school to stand out or the friend’s sister who’s got a penchant for bad boys. I wanted to know about things relevant to the plot, and the only time I got that was when they were referring to the person who he claims he killed, which didn’t really make it that hard to figure out. The only way it was ever going to be anyone else is if Shayne is a complete psychopath, which is not what he was portrayed to be. And it did end up being exactly who I suspected it was going to be, and so the tension in the book never really ramped up again after the first few pages. One thing I did like about this book was the part about Shayne’s past and his history. That was interesting and I really enjoyed it. Unfortunately that was, quite literally, the very last chapter. In the end I can’t say that I particularly loved the book, but it was decent enough. If you are looking for a mystery, this is probably not the book for you since the predictability levels are off the charts. However, I did find it to be a very poignant statement about bullying which seems to be so prevalent in the youth of this world today. For that reason I am rating this a 3, not great but decent enough that I wouldn’t discourage anyone from reading it. This review also posted at my blog & other book sites.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
Although Shayne and Mikey have only been friends for a week, they are both involved in a murder investigation. One of them has confessed, but is he really the guilty one? Shayne describes Mikey as a "dink." Combine Mikey's tiny stature and the odd thrift store suits he wears to school every day, and you have a bully magnet. Their friendship begins on Shayne's first day in the high school when he comes to Mikey's rescue. The two couldn't be more different, but a tight bond between them soon forms. Readers learn the short history of this unusual friendship when Shayne confesses to murdering a high school tough guy named Jon Brande. Mikey fills in the back story as he explains his accidental involvement in Jon's drug distribution ring and his sister's current fascination with "bad boys." Shayne's role in the story is revealed in his drawn out confession to Detective George Rawls. Together, the two parts of the story intertwine to reveal each character's weaknesses and secrets. Author Pete Hautman always seems to give his tales an unusual twist, and BLANK CONFESSION is no exception. This fast read will satisfy his many fans and probably earn him some new ones. If you are looking for something a bit different to kick off a new year of reading, try BLANK CONFESSION.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Blank confession takes place in a small town, much like small towns pretty much everyone knows everyone. But the one particular person here, Mikey is involved without hesitation in a bad situation because of a bully named jon who gave him a brown lunch bag filled with with something that would cost him his freedom. Mikey is the main character sense everything that’s bad going on always ends up recashe’s its way back to Mikey. One of the prevalent themes in blank confession is “ I think checkers are like people”. Mikey was a queen, always had someone in front to protect him, until Mikey lost everyone at one point but gained them back and later on, he became a pawn. However in the book Mikey is peer pressured into holding an item for a Jon at a bad time. Because jon had a dope business and as he gave him the bag, Mikey later threw it away because of a school check up that could’ve resulted bad for Mikey. This book also gives a 1st person view of only 3 characters Rawls the interrogator who trying to get a confession from shayne but also getting a story. Mikey the whimpy but smart person ironically makes bad decisions. Shayne is the one who has the tough background but is a sensitive guy guy when comes to a calm moment. Mikey is the main character that starts of wimpy and awkward until he met a new guy named Shayne who really really had an impacts on his impacts on his action and decisions. Shayne is a new guy who meets mikey right away and Shayne and mikey really kick it off to being good friends. Jon is the person being the worst influence on people such as Mikey and his sister Marie. Which is good and bad on Mikey. The way it’s good he doesn’t punk on him more than others. Bad he always comes by when Maries around. Marie is pretty much a follower by emotion, if she’s around jon she’s snotty but around shayne she’s like Mikey says “more like herself ”. Rawls is an interrogator who has currently doing that to shayne for something he’s not saying. This book would be more like breaking bad sense there is a drug conflict in this book that gets edgy. The author did a great job in the mixture of the feeling in the book from each character tells each side of there sto
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
Blank Confession (2010) by Pete Hautman Shayne Blank doesn't expect to make friends or even really get to know anyone when he comes to town. Then he walks into the police station to confess to a murder. Shayne's confession is woven with a narrative from the perspectives of Shayne's newest (most well-dressed) friend Mikey and the world weary detective interviewing Shayne. The story here has good writing as well as an intriguing premise. Unfortunately that does not make for a good book in this case. Mikey, who narrates most of the story, is a caricature at best with his pipsqueak persona and suit-wearing style. The phrasing throughout the novel verges on the absurd with motorcycles being referred to as "crotch rockets" at least three times, among other atrocities. Shayne is an under-developed character. Readers learn more about him in the last chapter than they do in the entire rest of the novel. While the idea is sound, and the story is short making it potentially great for reluctant readers, the characters drag this book down. The premise of a high school bully having the capacity to menace an entire town quickly wears thin as do the stunningly flat female character (because yes, there is only one).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was great. I liked the way the story unfolded and how the complicated nature of what actually did happen. I think I liked the book so much is because it kept me thinking and how mysterious everything was. Also, as soon as you get into the book it grabbed my attention and holds it throughout the story. Its about Shayne confessing a murder he did and Mikeys story and it everything just keeps on adding up making it very suspenseful. I loved most of the characters and how they all fit in together but Jon is just that mean bully in school. But, my favorite character would have to be Shayne because hes so mysterious and to me is what kept it interesting. Overall, I enjoyed the book very much just because of the way everything turned out and how everything that happened was exciting.    
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I just couldn't put the book down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
THID BOOK WAS AMAZING !!!!! I read it in two days . I couldnt stop reading from moring to sun down . It catches your intrest .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the way u almost knew what coming next and right at tgat moment it changes on u to something better or atleast unexpected. I loved it especially the main character if only i met someone like that i wouldnt let him get away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like the way the book was written, being told from 2 different point of views in 2 different settings. Characters were good, I thought the main character Mikey was a little odd. Overall nothing that really stuck out to me as amazing but nothing wrong with it either. A good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book very nice
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was really good