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Monday, April 21, 2014

Tease by Amanda Maciel

Title: Tease
Author: Amanda Maciel
ISBN: 9780062305305
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Released: April 29, 2014
Page #: 321
Source: ARC from the publisher


"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 lead 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 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. Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page."
First Lines: (Quote from the galley - see final copy for official quote.)
"'Did you ever have a physical confrontation with Miss Putnam?'
'Did what?'
'Did you ever have a-'
'Oh. Yeah. Uhm, yeah, I guess there was that one time in the locker room.'
The lawyer writes this down, even though the tape recorder is on, has been the whole time."
Page 1
Hearing the story from the perspective of the bully is pretty intense. She's torn about what's right and what's wrong - especially when there are lawyers telling her what she has to think.
Sara is being charged with harassment because her classmate committed suicide after being bullied by her. She's not the only one - her best friend is also being charged, along with some guys who went out with the girl. They all have various charges, but it amounts to them being responsible for the girl who hung herself in her family's garage. The problem is that none of these people actually think they're to blame. They're not allowed to see or speak to each other, so Sara feels very alone in all of these meetings and therapy sessions and getting through summer school.
It was really hard for me to like Sara. And Emma. And Brielle.
Okay, so maybe I wouldn't want to be friends with ANY of the characters in this book. It seems like everything they do is petty and stupid. And I'm not just talking about the bullies - yes, they act horribly towards Emma and don't care about anything. But Emma also does some pretty horrid stuff herself. I mean, assuming all of the rumors and stuff were true. It's hard to feel for someone who seems so weepie and possibly-slutty.
I know, I know. The story is being told from the perspective of a bully. That means we probably aren't getting an accurate picture of what Emma is actually like. But without that other side of the story, it's hard to feel compassion towards any of them. Maybe in the last, like, five pages. But throughout the entire story, I didn't know what to think. Was Sara bullied into doing the bullying? Did Brielle make her do those things? Maybe she's just as much a victim.
All of that being said, this book seems extremely close to real life. I can imagine all of these things happening in a high school right now. Which is sad for many reasons, obviously. It might have been nice to have more of the post-trial story. How did Sara pull herself together after all of this? What will she change about friendships and boyfriends in the future? There's a little glimpse of that, but it might have been helpful (for teens reading this book who are looking for some guidance on the "what next.").
It's a pretty raw book emotionally. I appreciate that Sara is not immediately apologetic for the things that happened. She deals with things in a very real and logical way. She can't see how she can be blamed for someone else's actions. It's a hard thing to grasp, for sure. The way she is written and the thought process she takes is really wonderful. Again... real life. That's definitely where this author excels.
I can't say that this was my favorite book of the year or anything, but I think it will be worthwhile for people looking for books about bullying. It's such a hot topic right now and I know a lot of schools are dealing with it in various ways. Hopefully the title of this book won't hinder anyone from getting it for a school. The perspective is worth it and is something that people need to read. Seeing things from the bullied standpoint is also very important, but it's nice to have something that explains the other side a little more.
So, good book. Worth a read. Be prepared to struggle with liking the characters. But it's a story that will stick with you long after you put the book down. There's a lot to chew on.
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