I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Tease by Amanda Maciel
Published by Harper Collins on 2014-04-29
Genres: Bullying, Emotions & Feelings, Law & Crime, Social Issues, Young Adult
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From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide.Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault. At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.With its powerful narrative, unconventional point of view, and strong anti-bullying theme, this coming-of-age story offers smart, insightful, and nuanced views on high school society, toxic friendships, and family relationships. Supports the Common Core State Standards.
One of the most awesome challenges during the Booktubeathon was to read a book that someone else had picked out for you. I decided that one person I could trust to pick out a book for me was Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, and from a limited list of books, she decided that I had to read Tease by Amanda Maciel. Being kind of a magpie, I already wanted to read Tease for the super shiny and super pretty cover, so Jamie’s choice thrilled me. Overall, I really liked Tease even though it made me kind of angry.
Tease opens with point of view main character Sara meeting with her lawyer to go over some of her testimony. Sara is on trial along with a few other people for the bullying suicide of Emma Putnam. The storyline then moves between present day with the trial and also with Sara visiting her therapist to the past, where we see the events leading up to Emma’s suicide. This is a heartbreaking book which did move me. However, I can see where people are going to not like it. It is told from the mean girl’s point of view and I know that a lot of people just are not into that.
Maciel wrote Sara Wharton in a way so that I actually didn’t hate her. I mean, I felt like maybe I should hate her because her bullying lead to a girl committing suicide. I didn’t. I mean, yes there were parts where Sara was kind of a bad person, but I saw her as a person who made bad choices. I did not see her as evil incarnate. I also really liked her voice. It’s not perfect, sure, but I could sort of empathize with her, because you know I am not into throwing stones at glass houses. Also, you get to see a softer side of Sara, especially when she’s around her younger brothers. You see how her parents’ divorce has negatively affected her. Sara’s life is not perfect by any means. We also get to see how this one toxic friendship that she has affects her as well.
I am not sure if we’re supposed to empathize with Emma or if we’re supposed to empathize with Sara, however, I will fully disclose that I empathized with Sara much more. I mean, she’s mean to Emma because Emma is going after her boyfriend. It’s terrible that I identified more with Sara, but honestly, you can’t go after someone’s romantic partner and expect them to be totally cool with you. Yes, Sara’s actions are over the top but ugh, Emma sucked. Like, she sends flirty texts to Dylan who is Sara’s boyfriend. Or at least, this was my initial impression.
Then, I got to thinking and discussing on twitter and well, you guys this book is told in first person from Sara’s perspective. We don’t get Emma’s perspective. We see a girl who is totally unreliable narrating the story. So, at the end, my assumptions were challenged. I mean, I read the whole book assuming Emma was the school mattress. But, yeah, that’s Sara’s jealous perspective talking and maybe she’s not that awful. But at the same time, I still have empathy for Sara because it just really sucks when a girl comes along and thinks that she can just force her way into your relationship. ALSO there’s this whole double standard in the book where the boys essentially get off scot-free but the girls are really taken to task.
Tease by Amanda Maciel is a book that really, really made me think and I actually loved it. I would recommend it to people who do not just automatically write off mean girl or ‘unlikable’ characters. I really think that this book is relevant to current social and contemporary issues that plague our schools and that teenagers will be able to see themselves in the different characters in this book.