Thursday, June 26, 2014

Tease (ARC Review)

Thursday, June 26, 2014 12:00 AM with 15 comments

18599901

Tease

Author: Amanda Maciel
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Number of Pages: 328
Release Date: April 29, 2014

Synopsis from 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.



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MY THOUGHTS:

Even though I have a review copy of this, I let the release date come and go without picking it up. While I had seen a couple of fairly positive star-ratings for this one, it just sounded so...cringe-worthy. After I sincerely enjoyed the similar story The Truth About Alice, though, I decided to give this a try after all, and I am so glad that I did. Tease is important and thought-provoking and just so real. 

Tease deals with a tough subject matter from a unique perspective. After a fragile young teen named Emma commits suicide a community turns on the two popular girls (and a couple of guys--although not nearly as much) who bullied the girl throughout the past year. The story is told from the POV of one of the accused, Sara. The story is told in non-linear way flashing back and forth between the present--the summer that finds Sara talking to a therapist and a lawyer while possibly getting ready to go to trial--and the past year that follows the Sara's and her best friend, Brielle's, torture of the girl. 

Sara is an insecure girl who rides the coattails of the stronger-willed, more popular, Brielle. She can't believe that she is lucky enough to be dating a popular and cute senior named Dylan even if she isn't sure whether or not she is ready to have sex with him yet despite pressure to just get it over with from Brielle. She decides to go for it for the worst reason there is: because if she doesn't than she knows somebody else, Emma especially, will. See, Emma is the school "slut". She tries to be friends with the other girls, but she still goes after their boyfriends. Beautiful Emma with her gorgeous red curls has made it clear that she likes Dylan and that she is going to get him despite the fact that he is with Sara. 

I'm just going to lay it out there. I liked Sara. I didn't like her actions, but I liked her. And I understood her. In junior high I was definitely a follower. I grew out of it in high school, but when I was in the ninth-grade (which is jr. high in WY), I was basically a lap-dog to a mean girl who ruled our small clique. When she was mad at somebody, I was mad at her. When she was mad at me, I did everything I could to get back into her good graces. Just thinking about it makes my stomach ache for the tiny, naive girl I was. Again, by the time I got to high school, I found my way out of that clique and formed true friendships that helped me grow into the woman I am now, but, yeah, I got Sara. I wanted to shake some sense into her, but I completely understood how things just snowballed out-of-control. She didn't like Emma, but she certainly didn't want her to die. 

What I liked about this book is that Sara isn't vilified. Her actions are despicable, but she is still just a young girl who had no idea that her actions would have such dire consequences. I also really liked how Emma wasn't canonized. She isn't shown as some angel. She definitely goes after Dylan and plays the game of teenage girls. She was obviously a sad and confused girl, but in my (maybe not popular opinion) I don't think that the bullying could have been the only reason she committed suicide. We'll never know what really caused her to go to such horrible extremes, but that's how life is. In real life there will always be a question of WHY? What could cause somebody to just give up on life completely? 

The only issue I had with this book is pretty minor: I feel like about 50 pages or so could have been shaved off as the later half starts to drag, but, again, that's a minor complaint. I didn't LOVE this book because it would be hard to love anything with such a sad, hard-hitting subject matter, but I did admire it and I would absolutely recommend it. When I have my own secondary classroom, this book will definitely be on my shelves for students to read. It really is such an important book. It's easy for teenagers to forget that their words and actions hold weight. It's important to remind teenagers that high school will be over soon enough and that they still have their whole lives in front of them. What seems SO important now will be something they will laugh at in 10 years. You just have to get through it. 

Definitely recommend.


15 comments:

  1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, but I'll probably skip it. I did read The Truth About Alice and I liked it, but I generally try and stay away from these types of books. I'm like you, I can never love such a sad, realistic book, and I feel like I've read a few recently so I've reached my quota. But it sounds like it was well done and important for teenagers to read. Great review! ~Pam

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    1. I really seem to be drawn more towards more serious books lately which is unusual for me. Like Alice, this book is immensely readable. I can understand needing to take breaks from certain genres, though. Thanks, Pam!

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  2. What a great review Natalie! I was little iffy on this one myself, wondering how it would be, but I DID accept it for review. (And just haven't gotten to it.) Being a teacher myself, I really respect books that are realistic and also serve to educate as well. I definitely can relate to the follower aspect as well, because that was more me in middle school, and like you realized in HS that I didn't need to be that way. I'm really glad you enjoyed this and am looking forward to reading it now!

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    1. Thanks, Jess! I hope you enjoy it if you do decide to pick it up. As a teacher, I do think it's something you will connect with.

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  3. Exactly why I liked it, because of the different perspective from the bully, it kind of shows how what they think they're doing isn't bullying- or in Sara's case, she knew it was mean, but after Emma and Dylan, she wanted payback (which, come on, anyone would). I got her, too, and again, I didn't hate her either. And loved how Emma was shown, and yeah, she isn't and wasn't exactly how they portrayed her, but she wasn't innocent either, and it's great that they showed that side of it too, she needed take responsibility for her actions, just as Sara. Definitely a book teenagers should read, there's a small line between teasing and bullying.

    Kirsty @ StudioReads

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed this one, too. The characterization of both girls was so spot on. Nobody is all good or all bad, and I loved that the author made that clear. Thanks for stopping by!

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  4. This is a lovely review, Natalie. <3

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  5. Beautiful review, Natalie! I really haven't read much about this one, but it sounds great. Especially as you compared it to The Truth About Alice, which I also ended up quite enjoying.
    I really like that this story is told through an unconventional viewpoint. It definitely works as a selling point - at least, to me.

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    1. Thanks, Amanda! The unconventional viewpoint was great. The whole book really rang true-to-life. I hope you enjoy it if you do pick it up!

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  6. While your review did make me reconsider this novel -- and The Truth About Alice -- I still think I'll end up passing. It is a very cringe-inducing topic, and though I was that naive girl, too, I don't really want to read about it and dredge up old memories that are better left forgotten. But this is a really, really great review. You *almost* convinced me.

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    1. Haha! If you don't pick this one up, I would still recommend The Truth About Alice. That one is a super quick and easy read (this one is very readable, too, but a bit longer). Thanks for dropping by!

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  7. Your positive reviews are always so convincing! I think that as a young person, I'd be able to relate to a topic like this pretty well. Or at least understand it. I have to try to get my hands on it! Lovely review Natalie! :D

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    1. Aw. Thanks, Laura. I hope you do give this a try. It's pretty awesome.

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  8. Both this book and The Truth About Alice have been enticing me for a while since I heard their premise. I like more serious books and books that deal with problems. I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed both of them. I want to read them as soon as humanely possible.

    I'm amazed you let the release date come and go without picking it up. Of course that's because I'm so excited to finally read this.

    I love that you put your own experiences into your review and sort of compared them with those of the girls in Tease.

    This is a great review.

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Hello, there! Thanks for taking the time to comment. I read each and every one and will do my best to respond--usually on your blog instead of on mine. I will, however, always answer direct questions. Due to serious time restraints, this blog is now an award free zone, but I appreciate the thought!