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The Sin-Eater's Confession

3.53 of 5 stars 3.53  ·  rating details  ·  444 ratings  ·  124 reviews
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....more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2013 by Carolrhoda Books (first published January 1st 2012)
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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly BlackThe Sin-Eater's Confession by Ilsa J. BickThe Curiosities by Maggie StiefvaterThe Darkest Minds by Alexandra BrackenThe Dark Unwinding by Sharon Cameron
2nd out of 58 books — 6 voters
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert MurdockShadows by Ilsa J. BickThe Off Season by Catherine Gilbert MurdockAshes by Ilsa J. BickThe Sin-Eater's Confession by Ilsa J. Bick
YA Books set in Wisconsin
5th out of 21 books — 6 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,999)
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i honestly don't know what to do with this review.

because i feel bad for only giving the book 2 stars, but it just didn't work for me. and that doesn't mean it's not a good book or that it's not an important book, it just means that i, karen tiffany brissette, did not enjoy reading it. which is a drag, because i have liked every other book that i have read by her. this one seemed weak,but then in the endnotes, she says that this is the first YA book she ever sold, which i guess means it is a re-...more
Initial reaction: Honestly I'm torn as to how to rate this because this was a very tough, raw read, and I need some time to meditate on it to explain my thoughts in full. In short sum, I thought this was a brilliantly told story of a boy who feels guilt over the murder of another - and his powerlessness of being able to do anything about it. Granted, what happens to Jimmy's character broke my heart, even made me cry, but while I could've raged at Ben's actions, inactions, and thoughts, I felt ba...more
Cassi aka Snow White Haggard
4.5/5 stars
The Sin-Eater's Confession is a very dark and disturbing book. Not because of ghosts or horror, but because the realism and prejudice represented. The book is mostly internal dialogue, following the story of Ben who witnessed his friend Jimmy's murder. Nobody knows he was a witness and he can't bring himself to tell anyone. So he struggles with what he saw alone.

According to everybody in town Jimmy was murdered because he was gay. Not that anyone really knew, but everyone suspected. T...more
Nope. No no no. Uh uh.

You can say dead body. You can even describe how bloody it is. Or mention his guts or whatever. But I can't handle lengthy (this is page 3, now) descriptions of how a blanket of flies are eating his lips and laid eggs in his eye sockets, or how his splattered brain looks like melted butter.

As much as I loved Ilsa's other book I think I may just vomit on this one for real.
How did we end up here?

Carolrhoda Lab + Ilsa Bick = GIMME NOW

Really, it’s not rocket science. Hey, you want some Carolrhoda Lab books one of which is written by Ilsa Bick? Hey, do my lungs want oxygen?

Okay, book. You've got 50 pages. Go!

I’ve been reading Ilsa’s work since she published DRAW THE DARK and I’ve watched her craft develop over those years and I have to say she’s getting more and more succinct. The voice in SIN-EATER’S was immediately engaging (although the military aspect ended up be...more
I must start out by saying that I am a huge Ilsa J Bick fan! I discovered her with Ashes (which I almost didn't read but am SO glad I did!) and have clamored to get my hands on everything else since.

With that said, when I heard this one was available, I had to get a copy as soon as possible! I was able to do that and immediately began the book. It didn't take long to realize that unlike all the others I read, where I would start and not stop until the last page, then re-read multiple times, I n...more
Jenni Frencham
Ben is in the army, and he thinks he's going to die on his next mission, so he's taking time to confess everything before he heads out. When Ben was in high school, Jimmy was beaten to death because some people suspected he might be gay. Ben saw what happened and never told; since then he has felt responsible for Jimmy's death.

I didn't really like this book. Ben's mother has been running his life, which is not an atypical storyline for a young adult novel, but Ben doesn't have that epiphany whe...more
A Book Vacation
To see my full review:

This is one of those books that punches you in the gut, mainly because you cringe for the main character, his bad decisions, and the fact that this really could happen. We learn the sad and often gruesome details of this story through the penitent letters of Ben, an extremely sad character who, a victim of circumstance, was at the wrong place at the wrong time, both literally and figuratively. We often ask ourselves, “what if?” when d...more
I received an ARC of this from NetGalley. I tried reading Ashes by the same author and didn't really like it, but I figured a more contemporary, non-dystopian-bandwagon novel might be better.

I feel really awful, but I really, really didn't like this. At all. It felt extremely drawn-out and tortured. It could have been a very, very good short story or even novella, but I feel like a lot of authors don't consider that--or maybe publishers don't want to publish it. Beats me.

I was also interested b...more
This book was graphic; it was intense and it was uncomfortable at times. That said, when I finished I felt like I was left reeling because it sticks with you.

There's a message there, about finding who you are, knowing what you want, and the point when children begin to separate themselves from their parents and become their own people. The horrible things that happen in this book? They are made worse by the fact that similar things have actually happened before.

Not sure how I would go about reco...more
Finally! A four star read. Well, actually it's more like 3.5 stars for the lack of a proper ending. (When I read a mystery/thriller book, I expect to know "who dun it" by the end of the book. I appreciated with Bick was trying to do with the ambiguous ending, but appreciating and liking are two different things.) Minus the ending, this book had a lot of good things going for it. First, there was a strong protagonist voice. A rarity inside YA fiction. While I didn't actually like Ben as a charact...more
Ok, Ilsa. You win. Your books are kicking my ass. And they KEEP kicking my ass long after the last page has been turned and devoured.

And I agree with your protagonist: some people might want to know everything that happened, and say "that's it?!" But I get it. I see. And I'm OK. Well, I'm NOT OK, but I understand. And I'll have to confess: I stalled out about 100 pages into it. It was almost PHYSICALLY uncomfortable for me to continue. I was so upset. I'm glad I finished it, but to be inside so...more
Bick has done it again with The Sin-Eater's Confession. The book had me riveted throughout the entire story.

I enjoyed the way The Sin-Eater's Confession was written. We learn that our main character (I don't know his name, and I'm not sure it was ever used) is in Afghanistan. He's ready to volunteer for a mission from which it is quite likely he won't survive. But first, he has to get something off his chest. He's been hiding a secret that is eating him up, and he's going to write a letter and t...more
Zabet The Dark Empress of Dark Chocolate

This and other reviews can be found on Reading Between Classes

Cover Impressions: The cover is what first drew me to this book. I loved the image of the letter and how it was a little faded and travel worn. The scratched in lettering and the blood add an element of mystery and an interesting edge.

The Gist: When Ben befriends a young boy who had lost a brother, he never thought that this decision would change the course of his life. When Jimmy reveals just how deep his feelings are for Ben, the t...more
The ending infuriated me ! That being said I did really enjoy this book. I haven't read any of her other books but this one was fantastic and i will have to pick up one of her other books to see of it's as good
Karyn Silverman
Review notes:
Repetitive. drags. Slightly incredulous but may be Northeast in me.

Good voice but character limited. Not sure I believe he joins the military.

Sort of morphs into murder mystery but then it isn't.

Overall lots of flaws.

Applaud lack of any answers. Deplore back and forth at the very end tho, which overdoes it.

Too much focus on Ben rather than what's his name. See, I forgot the name. Not a good sign.

Characters: only one really exists at all; all others are ciphers. Maybe sign of narrat...more
This book absolutely killed me. Its excellence completely snuck up on me and before I knew it the book was under my skin in ways a book hasn't done in a while. Though it took a while to read, because the school year has started and I'm back at work and have less time to read, when I *was* reading it I couldn't put it down, and it made me almost miss my bus stop on three occasions. It was horrifying, and beautiful, and chilling and heart-wrenching, and everything all at once and THE ENDING. THE....more
Elizabeth Everett
A dark novel about murder and hidden pain...but a really great read! I also loved Ilsa Bick's dystopian novel, Ashes.
Sep 12, 2014 Kimi rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya
I wanted to like this, but I don't think the execution of the story worked out. I felt like the author couldn't decide if she was writing a story about gay bashing, or about controlling parents, or a mix of the two. If it was supposed to be a mix of the two, I'm not so sure she did it very well. I thought it would have tied in together more, but it really didn't.

The style of writing was also really hard to follow. There were just huge blocks of disjointed thoughts and run-on sentences. I get tha...more
In spite of the disappointment i felt for the second Ashes book, I really like Ilsa J Bick. This was no exception. No answers, but well done.
Too stressful and hurt too much. I didn't think it was worth the heartache. Gore and violence don't bother me but the constant vigilance and paranoia the main character displayed really unnerved me. Way too many unanswered questions.
Intense. Sad. Ben was a mess and made so many bad choices. I wanted to scream at him, but also really liked him and wished I could help. Infuriating and so interesting.
Toni Vincett
I couldht really get passed psge 15. its such a shame because I loved the books that I have read of hers so fsr. I just couldnt get into this book.
May 10, 2014 Camille marked it as to-read
Shelves: on-hold
This book is really good and very well written. But I can't really handle the subject matter right now.
Here is an excerpt from my review: "The Sin-Eater's Confession is told in diary format by 20-year-old Ben, a medic in Afghanistan. But the story he's writing isn't about his time serving his country. It's about what happened to him three years ago in his rural Wisconsin town that made him leave for Afghanistan. It all started with a boy named Jimmy and a friendship gone sour. And when Jimmy needed Ben the most, Ben didn't offer any help. And then Jimmy died."

You can read my full review here: htt...more
one hell of a story.
Jill Urbanek Gauger
This book had me on the edge of my seat. I felt so sorry for Ben and everything he went through. I had a hard time myself with the murder of Jimmy. No one should ever have to go through something like that. There are so many sick people out there that could do something like this. What kind of people could live with themselves after that. The pastor was so bigoted! OMG he has no right being a pastor with his way of thinking. I just wish the identities of the killers had come out and their reason...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would after the initial few pages, where it opens with an explanation that this is a kid in a war zone (which, sorry, isn't really my cup of tea when it comes to literature). The author does well at putting you in Ben's shoes, conveying his sense of panic when appropriate and covering all his fears and concerns when he's in a panic mode. Dissatisfying as the conclusion is, in a "whodunit?" sense, the reader does know from the get-go, whether from the ear...more
Bick nailed it with this one. I can't even really remember how this got on my to-read list but I'm grateful I read it. I was ignoring things and holding the Nook while doing miscellany just to get further along.

First off, the narrator, Ben, is so real and confessional but so, so real. The first person was a great selection for narration and Ben is truly "any man". He has befriended Jimmy, who lost his older brother to a car accident in the hopes of guiding him a bit because he wasn't a popular...more
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Among other things, I was an English major in college and so I know that I'm supposed to write things like, "Ilsa J. Bick is ." Except I hate writing about myself in the third person like I'm not in the room. Helloooo, I'm right here . . . So let's just say that I'm a child psychiatrist (yeah, you read that right)as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe (meaning I did an internship in surgery an...more
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