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Cover image for Blank confession
Blank confession
1st ed.
Publication Information:
New York : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ©2010.
Physical Description:
170 pages ; 22 cm
A new and enigmatic student named Shayne appears at high school one day, befriends the smallest boy in the school, and takes on a notorious drug dealer before turning himself in to the police for killing someone.
Reading Level:
Ages 12 up.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader Grades 9-12 4.4 5 Quiz 140863 English fiction.


Call Number
YA Hautman

On Order



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.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

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 (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publisher's Weekly Review

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 ("[A]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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Horn Book Review

In the first chapter of Hautman's character-driven thriller, Shayne Blank, a slight sixteen-year-old, walks into a police station and calmly confesses to murder. Shayne is the enigmatic new kid who befriends outsider Mikey Martin. The smallest kid in school, Mikey wears formal suits and has a big mouth -- traits that only make him more vulnerable. During a raid at school, Mikey is forced to dump a stash he's holding for his sister's "violent, psychotic, drug-dealing creep" of a boyfriend, Jon Brande, who then insists that Mikey pay him for the loss. Shayne steps in to defend Mikey, further angering Jon and his henchmen. Hautman deftly builds tension with escalating violence and the mystery surrounding Shayne, who looks unassuming but has the fighting skills of a martial arts master. Shayne's confession unfolds a piece at a time in sections labeled "The Interview Room"; these are interspersed with Mikey's narratives and those of good-guy detective George Rawls. Hautman draws us into a side of teenage life darkened by drugs, and the story asks whether violence can ever be justified. Though we see the tragic roots of Jon's cruelty, he is nonetheless detestable. Does such vicious behavior deserve punishment? Shayne's history of vigilantism offers a resounding yes, and despite his "Blank" identity, he leaves a lasting mark on those he encounters. Hautman's philosophical yet suspenseful novel will have a similar impact on readers. lauren adams (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

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 Blankhis 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)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

A 16-year-old kid named Shayne Blank walks into a police station and announces that he has killed someone. Detective Rawls, intrigued by Shayne's calmness, allows the teen to lead him through the entire story, right up to the murder. These chapters, told from Rawls' point of view, alternate with the backstory, told by Mikey, a perennially bullied, suit-wearing eleventh-grader who makes a bond with the new kid Shayne who Mikey describes as always measuring, evaluating, computing. Shayne also has jaw-dropping hand-to-hand combat skills, and soon both kids are unwillingly dragged into the drama of a teenage drug dealer. It's a classic crime setup, but in Hautman's hands, character comes first, and Mikey is better fleshed out than most protagonists. Shayne provides a different and unusual challenge: by definition, he is a mystery, something of a blank slate. He is more superhero than anything else, and an epilogue explanation may divide readers into those who appreciate Hautman's finality and those who would have preferred not knowing the full truth.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist