Confidential Confessions, Volume 3

Confidential Confessions, Volume 3 - Reiko Momochi, Amy Forsyth The third volume of CONFIDENTIAL CONFESSIONS contains two stories: "Dizziness," a tale about the raise and fall of a meth addict, and "Our Future," a short story about a girl who dates a boxer.

"Dizziness" takes up most of the volume, and it's probably the quintessential story anyone thinks of when they think of CONFIDENTIAL CONFESSIONS.

It begins with a shy girl, Kyoko, who's insecure about her body and having a hard time passing her classes. All and all, her life's not so bad-- aside from her strict and perpetually disappointed father, her family life isn't in tatters, she has friends who love her, and she's never had anything really bad happen to her before. After a chance encounter with a classmate who uses drugs, Kyoko gets hooked on one in particular: speed. At first, it seems to solve all her problems, as she's quickly losing weight and passing all her exams with ease. As the high quickly turns to addiction, however, it becomes clear that's no way that Kyoko can keep using without it tearing up her life.

Like "The Door" from volume one, "Dizziness" uses two characters to illustrate what could happen. Kyoko, of course, fills the role of the relatable everygirl, though she quickly becomes a partner in crime to Aya, a fellow classmate who introduced her to drugs in the first place. Aya is peppy, gorgeous, and lives in the moment: she's everything that Kyoko isn't. That facade slowly starts to crumble as she becomes more and more dependent on both drugs and drug dealers. While portrayed as bad news from the get-go, Aya isn't some one-note villain from a drug PSA. Even at the end, it seems like she genuinely cares a little for Kyoko and is trying to do her good in her own little way-- it's just a pity that she mistakes feeling good for actual good. It makes her downfall all the more tragic.

While there are a few plot threads that seem pointless, like the weird abusive and perverted tutor, the story does try to explain the cycle of drug addiction without outright preaching to its readers. The progression from casual one-time use to full-blown addict is explained gradually, which definitely does a story a lot of favors, as the fears of a sweet school kid turning into drug addict does feels a tad sensationalized. I do appreciate that the main character has legitimate reasons for turning to drugs instead merely succumbing to "peer pressure," and book also emphasizes the importance of having a good support system. All around, it's a far more impactful message for teenagers than the typical "don't do drugs."

As par for the course, the story is somewhat dated, particularly with its drug-related jargon. It's probably one of the best written of CONFIDENTIAL CONFESSION's signature depressing tales, but it's also kind of forgettable in comparison to the extreme situations that crop up in the rest of the series. It feels like this is the volume where the author really started to hit their stride with the material.

The bonus story, "Our Future" is sweet, but also feels like whiplash after the serious story preceding it. In fact, it's not even listed in the table of contents in the volume itself. There's really not much to say about it either: a boy has to chose between devoting himself to the ring or being a good boyfriend. Like everything in this series, the ending is bittersweet, but definitely one of the most positive yet.

All in all, this is a recommended read for fans of the series, and maybe teenagers that need more than DARE's iconic failure of a program to teach them about the dangers of drugs.