Apr 21, 2014

Review: Tease by Amanda Maciel

Title: Tease
Author: Amanda Maciel
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 4.29.2014
Pages: 336
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Issues, Bullying
Series: No
Source: ARC from ALA MW

Rating: 5 Stars

Summary (from Goodreads):
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.

During 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 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.

In this powerful debut novel inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar: 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.

I am fully expecting to be in the minority when it comes to my thoughts on this book, but I loved it. I don’t know that most seasoned authors would try to tackle this aspect of bullying, let alone a debut author, but Amanda Maciel utterly blew me away with TEASE.

Let’s talk about Sara, our narrator. Sara is unapologetic and truly doesn’t see what she did was wrong for the majority of this book. She blames Emma for killing herself, Emma’s parents for not watching out for Emma, Brielle for being the dominant friend she had to please … Emma was an annoying, whiner who truly could not see what she did wrong.

I will admit that this floored me. I wanted to shake her. How did she not see that what she and Brielle were doing to Emma was cruel and bullying? It took me half a book to wrap my head around Sara, and even then I frequently had to set this book down for a day or so because she left me fuming with her ignorance and aloofness. It took me a couple weeks to read this book. Weeks.

But here’s where I finally figured Sara out and it both humbled and sobered me: We’re all Sara. Sara didn’t do or say anything that we haven’t. I could be all pious and stand on my soapbox and say what a disgusting, disturbing book this is because the main character feels no remorse for what she did, but I challenge any of you to read this and not find yourself in Sara.

How many times have you been with your girlfriends and laughed about another girl? Gone out with coworkers and bashed another girl in the office? How many of you have been cheated on and blamed the other woman instead of your guy? Every time you’ve thought, muttered, whispered or shouted, “whore” “bitch” “slut” “skank” or any other colorful insult (that admittedly flies off my lips with way too much ease), you are Sara. You are a bully.

Yes, Sara does go through a shift of her personality and while she spends the vast majority of the book in an ignorant, bitter haze, she does start to come out of it. I love that Maciel told it from Sara’s point of view. We’ve all seen the newspaper articles, People magazines, news blasts of these tragic suicides brought about from bullying. But it always bothered me that as much as people spouted the evils of bullying, they bullied and condemned the bullies. Somehow two wrongs made a right, and that never sat with me.

This book is going to be very polarizing. You will love it or hate it, but I beg of you to see it for what it is and see the power and raw beauty in what Maciel says. It takes a remarkable author to make me love a book and hate a main character, but that was the line Maciel walked for the bulk of this book with me. It is incredibly powerful and moving.

Buy: Amazon


  1. I actually really want to read this one! It's all fine and well to be against bullies, but we often forget that most likely we've all bullied someone at some time in our lives. How easy is it to get caught up in insecurities and peer pressure? Unfortunately I think it's human nature to want to feel superior to someone, anyone, else. Books like this just help to bring a mirror up to our faces. That's it, I'm going to go order this book now!

  2. NOTHING wrong with being in the minority (I know I'm in the minority with one of my DNFs today so, yeah.). Sadly, I think most people have bullied someone in some way at some point in their lives. We really need to stop and think about our actions but...we don't. Especially when we're young and impulsive. Not an excuse, of course.

  3. What a great review, Hannah! It's so true that even though Sara was horrible and I really disliked her for the entire book, we all have a little bit of Sara in us. I think that this book is super important and really makes you stop and think. I love your point about bullies being bullied, because I definitely felt the same way reading when the tables were turned and Sara became the victim. Part of you wants to say, "how does it feel?" but the bigger part of me just felt bad for her. I really think that this book should be taught in schools. I think it shows just how ugly bullying is and will make people really look at themselves and hopefully try to make changes.

  4. I'm not sure this will be the book for me Hannah, but I do like that it tackles the issue of bullying and does so with a largely unlikable heroine who forces us to find some of ourselves in her even when we want to vehemently deny it. Gorgeous review, I'm glad this one worked so well for you!!!

  5. So many people seem to love Tease that I might change my mind and give it a try. I originally didn't think that the topic was for me. Great review!


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