Tease by Amanda Maciel
How I Acquired This Book: Library Rental
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.
(Summary from Goodreads)
First, before I continue to my review I have to say that this is the third or fourth time I have began to write this review and have erased everything to start over from the beginning. I have been debating on whether I share my true feelings and thoughts of Tease, or sugarcoat my review to make it sound like I’m this super sweet, nice person. Well after unsuccessfully trying to review this book so many times, I have come to the decision to be completely honest, even if it seems like I am “mean girl” or a bitch. I read and post HONEST reviews on books and I don’t feel like I’d be being honest by not including everything, the good and the bad. So, I apologize now if I offend you or for any offending words I may use. Now, let me also make one thing perfectly clear, I do not condone or encourage bully of any type. These are just my feelings towards the characters and situation in a fictional novel. This review will also include spoilers, which were pretty obvious to begin with, but if you plan on reading Tease and don’t want to know what happens then I would stop reading now.
When I first rented Tease from my library I didn’t really expect too much from the book. While this book is disturbing, I also loved it yet didn’t at the same time. Tease was emotionally real in some aspects of the book, while in other aspects some things were unrealistic and didn’t exactly make sense. For example, Emma supposedly committed suicide because she was being bullied. Yes she was being bullied, but she didn’t commit suicide until the guy she was dating cheated on her with his ex girlfriend who happens to be the narrator, Sarah. Do I personally feel like she committed suicide because she was being bullied? No. Throughout the entire book it is made perfect clear that Emma has had what could only be assumed as mental health issues in the past. She has transferred schools a lot, the reader can only assume from hints that it’s because she had issues at each one of those schools. Do I feel like had she not been bullied but Dylan still cheated on Sarah with her only to later cheat on her with Sarah and then decide it’s really Sarah he wants to be with (confusing I know…Sarah and Dylan were dating, Sarah caught Dylan and Emma making out at a party and then dumps Dylan, Emma and Dylan begin dating, at a party Emma is not at Sarah and Dylan hook up and Dylan tells her he is sorry and actually wants to be with her not Emma, Dylan admits to cheating to Emma, Emma then commits suicide the next day), she still would have committed suicide? Yes. From the hints and evidence the reader gets about Emma’s shaky mental history and previous school transfer history, along with the way she behaves and acts at school, I do believe Emma was mentally unstable and would have still committed suicide bullied or not. Now I am not saying she should have been bullied or that it didn’t make things harder/worse, I just don’t think the blame should have been completely on Sarah, Brielle, Dylan, Tyler, and Jordan. If her mental issues were that obvious to readers, than it should have been clear to her parents who were the ones to transfer her from school to school and to have her go see a psychiatrist. Her parents could have completely prevented what was happening to Emma, but they didn’t. They could have found a special school for her, they could have had her put on medication, or even transferred her to an all girls school. No more rambling, back to the review. The book did grab my interest from the beginning, mainly because I wanted to see the outcome of the trial. It took me two days to finish, in between school and homework. When I first finished the book I was like, “That was amazing, totally 5 stars!”, now I’m like, “eh I don’t really like the outcome, 3 stars…”. Overall I think the book was enjoyable, although the topics are serious topics that students are facing everyday across the nation.
Onto the characters…Sarah, Brielle, Dylan, and Emma. Those in my opinion were the four main characters. Two other boys, Tyler and Jordan, were also pressed with charges but not really as big of characters as the other four. I’m going to do the character part of my review a little different than usual (this whole review is different than my usual).
Sarah – Sarah is one of the main characters and the narrator of Tease. She’s a junior in high school when all of this takes place and ends up missing a lot of school after Emma commits suicide and has to attend summer school. Her best friend is Brielle who is without a doubt the definition of a mean girl. Sarah tends to do whatever Brielle wants to do. Sarah is one of the biggest bullies to Emma. It only gets worse when Sarah realizes Emma is texting her boyfriend Dylan. She continues to go after Emma to try to scare her away from Dylan. At a party she catches Dylan and Emma making out. Sarah breaks up with Dylan and the bullying towards Emma only gets more intense from there. Later at another party she gets dressed up in an attempt to win Dylan back. When it works, they spend the night together with Brielle and her date going to the diner and other places. Dylan then decides it’s Sarah who he wants to be with. Sarah is charged with stuff like stalking, and other things I forget. She ends up taking the plea, although I was hoping she’s go to court and fight it. (I guess you could say I was team Sarah in a way. While I don’t agree with her bullying Emma, I did feel like she shouldn’t have been held responsible.)
Brielle – Brielle is Sarah’s best friend and the definition of a mean girl. She even physically bullies Emma in the locker room at one point. Brielle began as the leader of the bullying towards Emma. As things got worse, she often encouraged Sarah and took things to an extreme level like making fake social networking sites of Emma and commenting on Emma’s Facebook page. Brielle even at one point convinces Sarah to go with her to Emma’s house to warn Emma’s mother that Emma is sleeping around with so many guys, and some who are legal adults (making it statutory rape). After the charges are pressed against the girls, Brielle and Sarah no longer talk, or rather are not allowed to have contact with each other.
Dylan – Dylan is the middle point of a lot of the drama that unfolds in Tease. He is Sarah’s boyfriend, a senior, and the classic “super hot jock”. Sarah finds texts from Emma on Dylan’s phone and pictures of them together at a party Sarah wasn’t at. Dylan also begins to defend Emma saying she’s “cool, nice girl” and that he thinks Sarah would get along with her. At a party Sarah catches Dylan cheating on her with Emma. Dylan later cheats on Emma with Sarah and then decides he made a mistake and wants to be with Sarah. Dylan goes and admits everything to Emma. After the suicide, he is also pressed with charges that are later dropped. He also continues to defend Emma to Sarah during the few times they sneak around together.
And I saved the best (ha ha sarcasm) for last.
Emma – Emma is a sophomore and the new girl at school. She immediately gets disliked by many of the upperclassmen girls at school. She is often referred to as a “slut” or “boyfriend stealing bitch”, along with similar names. Call me a mean girl, bully or bitch, but yes Emma is a slut, a boyfriend stealing bitch, along with everything else they called her. She is the girl who in high school had a new boyfriend every week and then moved onto the next guy. Both girls and guys knew she was easy and would put out. She also went after other girl’s boyfriends, Sarah and Dylan as well as Brielle and her boyfriend (I forget his name…maybe it was the kid Jordan?), for example. In public Emma cried a lot in attempt to gain sympathy from people, but alone she would be a bitch to Sarah. Emma knew what she was doing but constantly played dumb saying stuff like, “I didn’t mean for this to happen”, and other excuses that just made you shake your head and want to chuck the book across the room.
I felt like the author made it near impossible to feel sorry for Emma. I do feel like Emma brought a lot of the issues onto herself and she was full aware of what she was doing. Now I’m not saying anyone deserves to be bullied, but some people do deserve to be put in their place. I do feel like Sarah had every right to put Emma in her place after she went after Dylan knowing he was with Sarah. I know personally in high school had I found the school slut and my boyfriend making out, I would probably have thrown a few punches at the both of them. I also feel like Emma’s parents were partly to blame. I was kind of surprised that Sarah’s lawyer never made that point. Emma’s parents were full aware of the bullying going on and of her mental instability. They obviously had seen this quite a few times before and thought the simple solution was to transfer schools, not to get her serious help or homeschool her. I think that yes Sarah and Brielle should have gotten in trouble for bullying, but they in no way should have been held responsible for Emma’s suicide. As I think of it now, I also don’t believe they once ever suggested she kill herself. That idea clearly came from Emma herself. I feel like I am ranting now because this book really did piss me off the more I think about it. More or less, Emma really pissed me off.
Anyways, I hope I didn’t offend anyone and if I did I am really sorry. Like I said in the beginning, I don’t agree with or encourage of bullying in any form and I do think there should be serious consequences when it comes to bullying. I guess to easily sum up this book, I feel like the author didn’t do a good job portraying the true story of bullying when it leads to suicide. When I have read real articles about young/teen girls and boys who have committed suicide after being relentlessly bullied, I always have such disgust and hatred towards the bullies. I feel like Tease was lacking that as the author pretty much made Emma the antagonist of the novel. There is another similar book that I am interested in reading called The S- Word by Chelsea Pitcher. In a way I feel like it is really similar and that it will also leave me disappointed, but I am going to give it a chance. I’d say give Tease a chance. I mean it definitely will give you some emotion, just probably not the kind you’d be expecting from what this book is about.