Confessions, by Kinae Minato
This is the best book we have read so far. It's so good that it has been passed from PAL to PAL. It deserves all the awards it won in Japan.
It opens in an 8th grade classroom on the last day of the school year. The teacher is giving one last talk to her students, explaining her decision to retire from teaching. It's clear from the things she says that she was a great teacher, one who gave and earned respect from her pupils. Her talk starts with a mundane explanation of the "Milk Time" program, moves on to her philosophy of teaching, why female teachers respond to female students out-of-school needs and male to male, and other school related subjects until she finally gets to the main subject.
To tell you what that subject is would spoil the book. Once you read that part you are led down a path that weaves like a dancing maze until the very last page. The next to last paragraph, in fact. Don't look at it. Wait until you get there. The journey is worth it.
Many book review say, "I couldn't put this book down." This is one of them.