Monday, 23 June 2014

Tease by Amanda Maciel




Tease by Amanda Maciel
Published May 1, 2014 by Hachette
Source: the publisher via Netgalley
Rating: 5 stars
From the blurb: Emma Putnam is dead, and it's all Sara Wharton's fault.
At least, that's what everyone seems to think when 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. But Sara is sure she hasn't done anything wrong, because Emma brought it on herself. Sara is adamant that she was the victim - not Emma.
I’m going to start by saying that Tease by Amanda Maciel neither condones nor encourages slut-shaming or bullying. I know these two elements have made readers quit this book after only a few pages or decide not to read it at all.

So, it might surprise some readers when I say that I found this story completely captivating. Every time I had to put my tablet down, I would be itching to pick it up again. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. When I finished it I kept going to pick it up my tablet only to remind myself that it was over. And now I’ve spent a few days thinking about it, I can’t get the characters or the events out of my head.

I can understand why a lot of readers have chosen not to read this, but at the same time it’s totally worth sticking this book out to the end. Yes, this is a horrible subject. Yes, the girls use nasty language, but there is a lot more to Sara’s story and it’s one I think all teens need to read.

Seventeen year old Sara Wharton is facing charges due to the bullying that lead to sixteen year old Emma Putnam committing suicide. Also facing charges are her best friend, Brielle Griggs, her ex-boyfriend, Dylan Howe, and his friends Tyler and Jacob.  The story is split between the present (July) and the events leading to Emma’s death (January – March). Despite knowing what was going to happen, the story was still utterly compelling and horrifying at the same time.

When we first meet Sara she is at yet another meeting with her lawyers and is going over the charges laid against her. Sara doesn’t feel at all sorry or responsible, she stands by the fact that none of them physically killed Emma and that Emma chose to do what she did. Despite this callous attitude, Sara is not as heartless as she seems, and more of her true character is revealed as she tells her story.

Told via first person we get a realistic look at what it can be like for a teenage girl at school – obviously not all girls will have the same experience, but Sara’s story felt true nonetheless. Brielle is the more dominant one in their friendship; Sara has quite low self-esteem and only feels like she’s someone when she’s with Brielle. Their dynamic was so complex, it was easy to see how Sara got caught up in Brielle’s need to bring down Emma. It definitely wasn't all Brielle’s fault, Sara played a big part, but I did like seeing the moments where Sara wanted to stop, when she got scared or felt guilty. I can understand why Sara would put up a wall and deny any wrong doing, sometimes it’s easier to keep going, even when you wish you could stop and face the truth, especially when what you've caused is so horrible.

The reason I think this story is worth reading is due to the character growth, Sara has a completely different mindset by the time the end of the year rolls around, and no, this doesn't make what she did ok, but I was happy to see her learn from her actions rather than continue to be a bully. Also, it’s based on a true story, and I have no doubt that there are plenty of teens that half-heartedly participate in bullying, or allow bullying to happen and do nothing. This could be an enlightening read for them, highlighting the potential consequences of their actions.

Tease is a sad yet captivating story, so relevant to today when bullying in schools only seems to be on the increase, and when the outcome often involves injury or death. Amanda Maciel took a risk telling this story from the bully’s perspective, and it absolutely paid off, it’s a thought-provoking young adult novel.

Thank you to Hachette for my review copy via Netgalley.

20 comments:

  1. I like your review! I too found the relationship between Brielle and Sara convincing. I wasn't quite so convinced by her change/redemption, but that's a difficult story to write at the best of times.

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  2. You know what? Even though I've only read about 20% of Tease, I completely agree with you! I had been crazy excited for Tease but I put off reading it because everyone was all ew no. But then I read Corey Ann Haydu's Life by Committee which deals with cheating and is a very messy book and now I really want to read Tease because books shouldn't always be reading what's comfortable for the reader. I like it when books make me uncomfortable.

    I'm really glad you liked it and I know I will.

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  3. Character growth is a big win for me, personally, when I'm reading. I'm SO tempted to try this one!! But I've had a bit of a bad run with books that "deal" with bully/slut-shaming so I'm kind of avoiding them for now. :| Doooon't tempt me for Tease again! XD lol

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  4. Thanks for this review. I've been considering reading this book, but I can't figure out whether it would be too much for me or not.

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  5. Great review. Sounds like something I'd love to read. I like intense stories.

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  6. I like hearing about books that you think about when you're not reading them. Thanks for the rec- I'm going to give this one a try!

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  7. Definitely going to pick this one up now after your review. I've had a few people tell me to read this because it's so good, so now I am :D It looks really interesting, especially for the topic that it covers. Brilliant review :)

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  8. I know a lot of people have given up on this book but the majority of my friends loved it which is why I do want to read it... eventually. It just seems so incredibly heartbreaking. I am always a little vary of reading books about bullying and this one seems especially intense since the victim took her own life. Even reading your review makes me feel so overwhelmed :/

    Fantastic review, Mands!

    Rashika @ The Social Potato

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  9. Mands - I read this a little while ago as well, and I think you hit the bull's eye with this review! So many people have been hesitant to read this, and not without reason. Like you said, it covers such a horrible topic and can hit quite close to home for some.

    I absolutely LOVED Sara's character growth as well. She grows up and learns so much during the course of the story, and it's wonderful to see that.

    I think this is SUCH a powerful book, and I'm glad you felt that way too. :) Thanks for sharing, and, as always, BRILLIANT review! <3

    ~ Zoe @ The Infinite To-Read Shelf

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  10. As much as this isn't my usual kind of book, reading your review makes me think I should give it a go. Bullying is something not a lot of people talk about but everyone has been bullied and for those who do the bullying, this could be quite enlightening too! The character growth here is what attracts me the most, as I love seeing characters evolve hard core throughout a book. Thanks for such a gorgeously written review (as usual) Mands and I'm thrilled you got hooked by this one this much. The best feeling ever is when an awesome book just won't get out of your head...even after you're done reading it!

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  11. I really think this is a book I'd enjoy. I like books that make me feel uncomfortable - so although the language/bullying would get to me, I'd keep on. (& I'm all about books that jump around in their timeline!)

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  12. This one sounds so interesting. I'm definitely intrigued. Great review lady.

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  13. Awesome review Mands, I'm actually one of those who quit the book after a few pages because the language was just way too much to bear. I wish I could have stuck it out because it sounds like a really relevant story is within it's pages, and she does come around later.

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  14. Yay, I'm happy to see that this was an awesome book for you. I loved Tease as well, and you listed accurately the reasons why. I definitely loved how she grew in the end, how she came to understand what her actions meant and what she needed to do to amend those she hurt, and how to also forgive herself in the process. Like you said, it doesn't excuse what she did, but it was a start. This needs to be read more because of the awareness it spreads - how bullying, cyberbullying, and slut-shaming can drive a person to the edge, and they can never be justified.

    Faye at The Social Potato Reviews

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  15. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I had seen some reviews that totally put me off reading this, and now I am so happy I have seen your review. You have convinced me that I really need to give this book a chance, I think I might end up loving this.

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  16. This is the only review of this book that really makes me want to read it.
    Thank you! I'll give it a try!
    Lis @ The reader lines

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  17. This is the only review of this book that really makes me want to read it.
    Thank you! I'll give it a try!
    Lis @ The reader lines

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  18. I'm very intrigued by this book but was unsure whether to bite the bullet with it or not, not anymore though...... so thanks for the wonderful review!

    Thea @ Gizzimomo's Book Shelf

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  19. I think a lot of people have kind of missed the point with this one. I have seen many reviews where they were just mad about the slut shaming, and well, that's the POINT! We should be mad because that is really happening in the world! For me I appreciated reading from the bully's POV. This worked well in this book and I really enjoyed watching her grow. Wonderful review!

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