Review: Tease by Amanda Maciel

Book Title: Tease
Author: Amanda Maciel
Published Date: April 29th, 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.

Disclaimer: This was a library book.

It was no secret that I couldn’t finish my e-ARC of this book. It was too personal and as a former victim of bullying, I couldn’t swallow it without remembering my own experience with bullies and the acts of bullying I was subjected to. After talking to a few blogger friends, specifically Jamie, I decided to get it from the library and give it another shot. 

This book really doesn’t have a lot of decent characters, but thankfully, I don’t need the book to have decent, likable characters in order for me to actually like the book. Sara was not a likable character. She was beyond mean to Emma, she refused to see where she had done wrong and she didn’t see how it was a double standard of sorts for her to call Emma names, but heaven forbid Emma do anything like talk to Sara’s boyfriend. I do think Sara was a redeemable character which is much more than I can say for Brielle.

Brielle was the instigator of this stuff. She was always the one to come up with these “pranks” to hurt Emma and I think Sara, though she prided herself on knowing how to stand up for herself, was very much a follower. I think Brielle kind of controlled Sara and while I know Sara should have put an end to it, I don’t think she was brave enough to. 

In high school you have all of these expectations about sex and if you don’t measure up, then you are considered “weird” or “stupid” even “frigid” and “prude”

“I don’t- I mean everyone has sex.” -Sara-
“Not everyone does in high school.” -Teresa-
“Well they’re supposed to.” -Sara-

See, what did I say? Expectations.
The ending was my favorite part. Watching Sara realize exactly how she contributed to Emma’s suicide was a very satisfying journey. I would actually argue that Sara’s storyline was the most compelling part of the entire book. Watching her realize that yes she was to blame. So was Brielle. Her statement at the end of the book made me sob. It was beautiful and eloquent.
The split timeline was sometimes difficult to follow, and it was definitely hard for me to read sometimes. The flashbacks to where Brielle & Sara bullied Emma was hard for me to read because I’ve been in Emma’s position before and it was awful. High school was absolute hell and sometimes I begged for it to be over. I’ll be honest, yes I did think about suicide, but I never attempted it. 
I ended up enjoying this book more than I expected to. It was an important book and it was a book that transported me back to high school, a place I never, ever wanted to return to. I think high school students need to read this book. They need to know that their words can hurt. They need to know that their actions can hurt. 4 stars to this book that told the story from the point of view of the bully.

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