Saturday, July 5, 2014

Review: Tease by Amanda Maciel

TeaseTitle: Tease 
Author: Amanda Maciel 
Publisher: Balzer + Bray 
Publishing Date: April 29th 2014
Pages:  328
Genre:  YA Realistic Fiction 
Series:  Stand Alone
Source:  Audio


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.

I was on the fence about reading this book. It sounded intense and it covers a great subject for teens. But as an adult sometimes the issues are just not my favorite to read about,something I am past in my life and I just don't find enjoyment or a connection in reading the deeper darker issues of teens' lives. I decided to give this one a try and I was utterly amazed how much I enjoyed this book. I found a connection with all the characters and I felt I was living the drama that unfolded in this book. It was a very fast paced book and it was very easy to get hooked deep into the mess of this book. It was a hard subject and at times pissed me off, but it was well worth the read. 

This is the story of Sarah, Brielle, Emma, and a few others. A story of mean girls, gossip, lies, threats, fights, and death. Sarah and Brielle are best friends, have been since the 8th grade. Emma is new to the school. A transfer student. Emma is known as a boyfriend stealer. Sarah is dating the boy of her dreams. Someone she loves, trusts, and has fun with. Everything changes when Sarah finds texts on her boyfriend's phone from Emma. Brielle is not a nice girl, but is very protective over Sarah. Together Sarah and Brielle make Emma's life miserable and Emma in return destroys the life that Sarah knows. In the end.... Emma kills herself and now Sarah, Brielle, and three others are on trial from being the reason that caused Emma to take her own life. This is the story of Sarah, how she treated Emma, how she responded to Emma, her denial, her guilt, and her remorse. 

This was a very well written book. It had deep content, strong writing, well developed characters and it had me on an emotional roller coaster from the very beginning. There are very few books where I feel so mixed up about the story and the characters. In the beginning, Sarah annoyed me and I didn't much like the way Brielle sounded. Throughout the story my annoyance turned to dislike, can't stand, loathe, then finally to sympathy and sorrow. Sarah had quite a journey through this book and in the end I cared for her. 

Sarah's journey wasn't the only thing that put my heart on a workout. this book really shed a light on bullying. Yes, there were bullies when I grew up. Things were different, social media wasn't around to make things harder or easier on destroying a teenage reputation, but there were struggles and hurt much of the same. Something I really appreciated about this book, Neither side of the bully fight were innocent, and none of the actions deserved the outcome. There were things said and done that contributed to the way things went down. Sarah was not at fault for Emma's decision to end her life, but she did make it easier for her to make the decision. Emma didn't deserve the torture Sarah and Brielle put her through, but she didn't take any ownership to the part she played in the war between the girls. It's no ones fault but no one was innocent either. I felt this story was more true to life as things go... maybe not the exact moments or words, but the fact that it's not so black or white when it comes to high school, bullies, friendships, pranks, lies, and everything in between. It was gritty and dark and compelling. It was a story that needed to be told. 

The characters were very flawed but more true than most stories portray of teens. Teens can be over emotional, passionate, selfish, and many times see only one side of their story... their own. Also it is true some end up getting it and some don't. This is the way I saw both Sarah and Brielle and from what I could see,  of Emma too. Emma was the victim of the story... but not the only one. Emma didn't deserve to be bullied but she played her own role in things. She had issues that she needed help for. She did things that hurt Sarah. Sarah was hurt and she didn't know how to deal with her hurt. Naturally she turned to her best friend, Brielle. Brielle was a true mean girl, but also had issues she needed to deal with and was seeking no help for these issues. It was a bit of a domino effect. Sarah and Brielle were the dirtiest when it came to getting even. What they thought was deserved crossed the line and in turn put Emma over the edge. Sarah had to deal with this and come to terms with it. In the beginning, she wouldn't accept any of the blame. She could only see her hurt, her life that was destroyed, her woes. In the end, she came around. She seemed remorseful. The characters were definitely hard to lie at times but I felt they were easy to connect to. 

The writing of course made the story and the characters come together smoothly and effortlessly. The story was written in past and present chapters. We get what Sarah is going through with the charges, the trial, and the memories when the story is in the present.  From her memories we get the past, the whole story as it slowly evolves, and of course the feelings that Sarah experienced that caused her actions. I was able to see everything unfold... Sarah's romance, her friendship with Brielle, and the way it all fell apart from the moment Emma enters into Sarah's life. I really do believe the way the story was written, telling the Sarah's story... past and present... in bits and pieces is what made the book so intense. 

I really never imagined I would enjoy this book as much as I did or that it would be as real as it was. I really thought... another mean girl book. It thought shallow, unrealistic, annoying. What I got... deep, intense, and addicting.

Five starts to the narrator too. She was excellent at telling this story and making it so real in my mind.  I have been a fan of hers for a while and she was the perfect choice for this book.
Loved it. I can't wait to see what else this author comes out with. 

Amanda Maciel
Amanda Maciel has worked in book publishing since graduating from Mount Holyoke College and is currently a senior editor at Scholastic. She spends her free time writing, running, or riding the subway with her young son. She lives with him, her husband, and their cat, Ruby, in Brooklyn, New York. Tease is her first novel.


  1. I guess this is a topic that needs to be explored a lot. The problem of bullying exists and the consequences of it can be fatal.

  2. I'm really glad to see that more books are taking on this topic in such a real way.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  3. SO glad you liked this!! So many people I know didn't click with this book and for me it's been one of my favorites so far this year. I feel like it is a really important book to show that these issues aren't completely black and white. There aren't always villains and innocents. Everyone usually plays both roles. I love that the m/c in this novel is someone that I related to completely, but then at the same time I felt really uncomfortable relating to her! I thought it was an awesome debut!


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