2014 EVENTS:
Holly Bourne, Non Pratt and James Dawson - 30th October
Becca Fitzpatrick - 15th November

Monday, 7 April 2014

REVIEW: Tease - Amanda Maciel

Monday, 7 April 2014

PAGES: 368
PUBLISHER: Hodder Children's Books
FORMAT: Paperback
BUY ITWaterstones
RATING: 4 Stars

This review refers to an uncorrected advance edition.

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. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community and the media. But Sara is sure she hasn't done anything wrong. Emma brought it on herself. Emma stole Sara's boyfriend. Emma stole everyone's boyfriends. Surely Sara was the victim, not Emma. During the summer before her senior year 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. 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.

A tense and intriguing novel the premise of which is so shocking because it is so true; a couple of girls making progressively nastier comments and isolating her until the girl breaks down and kills herself. In today's society of social media, cyber bullying is so prevalent that the plot points in this, that the people responsible should be punished even if they didn't physically kill her was very thought-provoking and really captures how important it is that people that are in that situation know that they are not alone and have resources available to help them.

Sara is the narrator and it is easy to empathise with her feelings; Emma had stolen her boyfriend, why would you take that lying down? But with each chapter more is revealed about the lead up to Emma's death and really I just felt sorry for Sarah - she was caught up in a vicious circle of trying to impress her "popular" best friend Brielle who was really the instigator in all of the mean comments etc. that were aimed at Emma. 

Knowing that Emma was obviously going to die meant there were no big shocks or twists in the plot, but I still enjoyed the way all the information was slowly revealed and that Sara developed as a character once the litigation started and she was separated from Brielle. It showed that she had been sort of bullied into acting like a bully...and was now getting bullied for it herself!

So all in all, I would say this was a very clever and enjoyable read and it'd be perfect for fans of Cat Clarke or Erin Lange.

Before going into Tease it’s important to know a few things about it. Tease is a gritty and controversial look at bullying. Don’t pick this up expecting to fall in love with the characters – in fact you’re going to get frustrated with them and will want to throw this book across the room at times although I say that in the best possible way. Tease is an angsty read that raises important questions on topics such as mob mentality, slut shaming, peer pressure, bullying and the competitive and destructive relationships girls have with each other. It’s an incredibly important book that isn’t afraid to ask the big questions and gives you difficult answers that will make you think outside the box.

The book is told from Sara’s perspective, a girl who was part of a group whose bullying drove classmate Emma Putnam to suicide. Tease is told in alternating past and present chapters as we watch Sara go on trial for the abuse she showed Emma and also go back in time to see how the bullying began.

It was fascinating reading from a deliberately unlikeable characters point of view. At the start of the book I really disliked Sara and her casual slut shaming drove me mad but as we get to see past events I could begin to understand her hatred towards Emma. Amanda Maciel never excuses Sara’s actions but she does make you understand her reasons. What I loved about this book is that the victim Emma isn’t a particularly nice person either. She deliberately goes after Sara’s boyfriend and does her fair share of name calling. It was so interesting having a victim who wasn’t entirely innocent in all this herself.

Another thing I loved about Tease was how Amanda Maciel shows how easily Sara’s boyfriend Dylan gets away with everything. To me he was the worst character in this book and as the cheat was the one who’d done something wrong. Yet the girls, law and media never blamed him or held him accountable for his actions. It really disturbed me how the girls would rip and claw at each other and yet never think to blame Dylan. This story is happening between girls everywhere and I think that Amanda Maciel drove a very clever yet subtle message home about girls uniting and holding the guy who’s actually at fault responsible.

Overall Tease was a captivating read. It definitely offers up something different in YA and is like a grittier more important version of ‘Mean Girls’. It’s about how we make mistakes as teenagers and learn to become adults by taking responsibility for them. Teens and adults alike are certain to relate to the issues raised in Tease in one way or another. This reader certainly did.

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