[ARC Review] Tease by Amanda Maciel

Monday, April 28, 2014

Title: Tease
Author: Amanda Maciel
Series: Standalone
Genre: YA Contemporary, Bullying
Format: Hardcover, 336 pages
Release Date: April 29th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Source: ARC received from publisher at OLA in exchange for an honest review

Amazon | Indigo | TBD | 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.

I really do not know how to review this book. In over 2 years I have never read a book and been this undecided as to its rating. I went into Tease knowing what it was about and the subject matter and I knew I would have an opinion on it, but honestly I did not know that my emotions would be split this much.

Before I go into the book itself, I feel like I need to state that I was bullied when I was in elementary school and into middle school. These were probably some of the hardest years of my life because I honestly felt so alone and unprotected. I have been bullied by both boys and girls, and as most know, being bullied by girls is the hardest thing to go through because we can be mean and vindictive, and that is something I related to in Tease.

I have no sympathy for bullies and what happens to them after they get caught. Honestly I think that bullies need to be punished harshly or they will never learn the ramifications of what their actions and words can cause. Maybe it is because I have such deep hatred for bullies that I felt no sympathy for Sara. I know that the author tried to make her sympathetic and worthy of our trust and appreciation but for me everything that came out of her mouth was either an excuse or placing blame on someone else. I honestly feel like if you have never been bullied before then you might feel for Sara, whereas I only see her as someone who verbally and physically attacked another person, and thought the end result was in no way her fault. And I think the hardest part for me was that in the end, Sara didn't change. She still did not think Emma's suicide was in any way her fault, and to me that made Sara very hard to like as a character.

To be fair we really have no idea what Emma's story was. We only have Sara's version of the events and honestly I wish we could have seen another side. It might have cleared up some things for me as a reader, like why Emma hung out with certain people, why she never really fought back and if her mother really knew the extent of what was going on. I also felt like the secondary characters gave us no real insight into the story itself and I think I just wanted someone else's point of view because I felt like Sara's was clouded by hatred and jealousy.

Now, I am giving this book 3 stars, and it took me over a week to figure out if this was the right rating. I read the book extremely fast, but it was really hard for me to read in general. I did not like the narrator or her voice so that made getting through the book a lot harder than usual. But I also think that the subject of bullying and its consequences is something that needs to be talked about and read. I did not hate this book, but I disliked that I was meant to feel for a character that did not deserve forgiveness. I am giving this book 3 stars because my emotions are in the middle and that rating seemed fair. I think that this author has a talent for writing tough situations and I give her kudos for tackling a subject that is so media heavy at the moment. But in the end, my own bad experiences with bullies and the consequences on not only the bullies themselves, but me as well, made liking this book a lot harder. But I definitely think it should be read by all teenagers so they understand what can happen if things go too far.

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  1. I know this is one of those books where readers would need a bit more empathy than usual. With a character that's difficult to like, I'm afraid the lesson of the story would get lost in all the hate (which, is ironic in itself).

    You tried. :)