Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Tease by Amanda Maciel
Release Date - April 29, 2014
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 336 pages
My Rating - 3.5/5
**received in exchange for an honest review from the publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
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.

During 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 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.

In this powerful debut novel inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar: a story of everyday jealousies and resentments, misunderstandings and desires. Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page.
Words are powerful. They can heal, and they can hurt. Sometimes we forgot how powerful our words actually are. Tease looks at the power words have, and the true nature of the harm they can inflict. It's a novel that might make you feel a little uncomfortable, but it will also make you sit up and listen to what it has to say.

Tease is told from the perspective of Sara, a bully. A unique perspective that immediately caught my interest. What must a person who knows their actions  (at least partially) caused someone to harm themselves feel after something like this happened? I was both hesitant and intrigued to pick this one up, mainly because it requires it be done well for the novel to have an impact. Luckily, Sara's story, and the way it's written, are both done with care.

Sara is exactly what you'd expect to find with a character like this. At times she grated on me, and I found myself wanting to shake her. More worried about her life, and how it was ruined, she seemed to give little thought to Emma and how her life wasn't just ruined - it was over. As frustrating as Sara's self absorption was, it felt authentic and natural. Much is made of characters and whether they have to be 'likable'. I personally think that I can hate a character, and still want to know their story. It's understanding the character, and what motivates them that is important to me, and I feel I got that from Sara.

The 'other side' of a story like this is one that most people don't want to consider. That's why I think this novel is important. Of course the bullied party should garner sympathy, and cases like this should be taken seriously. This novel, in conjunction with showing that, also flirts with the idea of what the punishment should look like. How do you atone? Can you? Is this something that should dictate the rest of your life, or is there moving forward? The novel doesn't present any clear answers, and instead leads the reader to think about these things themselves. The idea that this should curb any future these teenagers would have is tough to swallow, and yet what happened is truly awful. I think the novel does a great job of showing that there are no easy solutions.

As Sara grows, and begins to realize the true nature of what happened, there is some hope woven into the story. The hope that talking about these issues can help others, and that education may lead to understanding. It's this aspect that made me think this book would be a wonderful addition to schools everywhere. Teens will, sadly, see recognizable elements from their own school experience in this novel, and it would be a great discussion point for classrooms.

My only issue is that I wanted the novel to go a little deeper. Maybe show the changes within Sara happening much more gradually. It was logical, and fit within the story, but I wanted just a little bit more from this aspect. The writing itself flows, and the plot movement ensured that I read it quickly.

Emma's side of the story felt lacking to me too. It wasn't Emma's story, but I wanted to know more about what she was dealing with. You get the sense that the words Sara and her friends hurled like weapons were just another layer to the hurt Emma already was dealing with. That's the message the novel is trying to send. You don't know what someone else's life is like outside of school. You don't know what's happened to them, or what they deal with everyday. Your words might just have the power to push someone over the edge. That is, I feel, what the author is trying to show within these pages. I think, with minor issues, she succeeded.

This issue might stem from the feeling I had that the issues dealt within the novel felt too big for such a constrictive space. It's one that needs to be tackled, and the approach the author took is what really ended up standing out when I had turned the last page. It's such a huge discussion point in society and I felt the author tackled the subject with sensitivity, but also didn't hold back.

Tease left me conflicted, and that means it did what it set out to do. It also made me want to talk. If this book does nothing else but start conversations about bullying, than I think it's accomplished something the author can truly be proud of.


  1. Wonderful cover! This book seems to be covering a pretty serious topic. Although I definitely enjoy reading about high school romance and all, this book sounds worth reading. Great review!

    Cindy @ In This World of Books..


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