Published by Balzer + Bray on April 29, 2014
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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.
Supports the Common Core State Standards.
Warning: This review could be a Trigger for bullying, depression, suicidal thoughts, suicide, etc. Please read with caution.
Tease by Amanda Maciel was an incredibly powerful book. It was emotionally difficult to read, but beautifully done. It’s an important book and everyone needs to read it.
I know a lot of people had mixed feelings about this book. The main issue, it seems, is that people didn’t like the MC, Sara. But… that’s to be expected. She bullied a girl to the point of suicide. That’s the point of the book! So if you go into it expecting to love Sara, then you’re gonna hate the book. And I get that and completely understand why people felt that way. I felt really disconnected from Sara because of her attitude and behavior. But at the same time, I knew that would be the case going into this book. In the flashbacks, I hate Sara. She’s a horrible person and she did horrible things. But in the present chapters, I feel sorta bad for her. At times, she seems so sad and miserable, it’s hard not to feel bad for her. At other times, I get so angry at her because she’s so convinced she’s done nothing wrong. But in the end, I saw some major, major character development with her and I was satisfied with where she stood by the time I was done reading the book.
Brielle was a horrible, horrible person. As bad as Sara was, Brielle was so much worse. Brielle was vicious and cruel. At least with Sara, she had moments where she felt guilty or bad, like maybe the were doing something wrong. But we never saw that with Brielle. We never saw even a hint of guilt or remorse. We never saw any character development. And I definitely feel like if Sara hadn’t been friends with Brielle, she wouldn’t have been so cruel or a bully.
Except for Dylan and Carmichael, I had a horrible time keeping track of the guys in this book. I know there was Tyler, Kyle and Jacob but I can’t, for the life of me, remember who they were or the parts they played. I’m not completely sure how I felt about Dylan. He was a nice enough guy and he tried so hard to be nice to Emma and tell Sara to back off. But… There’s just something about him that made me angry, especially in the present-day chapters. I can’t explain why at all. He just did.
I adored Carmichael so much, though. He was an awesome, fun, goofy guy. He was nice to Sara, even when she didn’t (in her eyes) deserve it. He was what she needed and I think he played a huge role in making Sara realize that she WAS a bully and she WAS mean to Emma. He opened her eyes to a lot of things and he didn’t hold back the few times they did fight.
The adults in this book really made me angry. I mean, I kind of liked the principal and the fact that she took action and tried to stop the bullying. My principal in elementary school never did that. But the adults just seemed to be so ignorant, they never asked the right questions, they always assumed the worst and they never seemed to bother getting the whole story.
There was a LOT of victim blaming, slut-shaming, etc in this book. And I knew there would be a lot of that, given the nature of the book. I knew there would be bullying, name-calling, all of that. But it still struck a chord, it still sucked and it was still upsetting.
This book brought back a lot of memories from elementary school and middle school, memories I’d rather forget. It made me think of my elementary school bully and how she probably had a shitty life and that’s why she tormented me. It’s made me feel bad for her and I don’t wanna feel bad for her. Not yet, when some of the things she said and did still hurt, even after all these years. This book also had me thinking about how kids who aren’t bullied don’t stand up for those who are, for fear of being bullied themselves. When you’re young, though, it’s hard to comprehend that doing nothing can be just as bad as being the bully. That not standing up for someone can have just as many consequences.
The ending was so difficult to read. The courtroom scene almost broke me. I broke down crying at this point in the book. I had maybe five pages left and didn’t feel like I could read any more. But I pushed through. The letters at the end made me cry again. And the Author’s Note was really touching and helped me understand why Maciel wrote this story.
Overall, as emotionally heartbreaking as this book was, it was incredible and so well written. It’s an incredibly powerful, moving, enlightening story and anyone who has bullied someone or has been bullied really needs to read it. It shows things from the bully’s perspective and it really makes you think. I think this book needs to be read in schools because it will open up a lot of important discussions in the classroom and maybe it will help with the anti-bully campaigns. I’m very eager to see what Amanda Maciel does next, though I’m sure it’s something that will require tissues and chocolate!
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, please speak up. Speak to an adult you trust.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website
Stop Bullying website
NOH8 Campaign website
Heather Brewer, a young adult author and a big advocate of mental health and bullying prevention, has a special message for you, too. Check it out here.
Words can hurt. Bullying can hurt. You can’t judge someone when you don’t know them, because as the quote above shows, everyone has their share of problems. You can’t know what someone is going through just by looking at them.