"But it’s not crap. Everyone thought Emma Putnam was a pain in the ass. We didn’t kill her, but I’m sorry, that doesn’t mean we liked her. And now that everyone’s decided we did kill her, or at least sort of, I think I like her even less than I did when she was alive."
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.
If you've heard about Tease you must have seen that many people weren't happy with this book at all. I read some pretty bad reviews about this novel and got more and more disappointed after each of them. I might have skipped reading it if not for my lovely friend who suggested that we should read Tease as our first buddy read. Well, I said yes because I thought if it's bad than at least I'll have someone who I can talk it out with but to my surprise it wasn't bad at all, actually I loved this book way more than I ever thought I would.
As I said, I absolutely loved Tease, it completely blew my mind, but I can see that this book is not for everyone. Amanda Maciel chose a very hard subject as her first novel but as far as I can see she did a great job and wrote an amazing debut novel.
Bullying is a very sensitive subject more so if it ends with suicide and I don't think there's anything you can say about it which will make everybody nod in agreement. That's the thing with Tease, I think that if you like it or not mainly depends on which character will you identify yourself with.
That takes us to my favorite part of the novel: the characters. All of them, especially the main ones were well-made and very real. The character development was so well-written, it didn't happen from one moment to the next, it was a slow process you had to pay attention closely to see it slowly happening.
Let me tell you that you'll have problems accepting our main character Sara because she does not feel sorry. At all. She blames Emma for taking away her life and ending theirs with this step. She's angry at the world, angry because they make an angel out of a girl who was billed slut by the whole school, angry because everyone was bullying Emma not just them and still they can live their life like nothing happened. Sara lives in a state of denial, she will not admit that she was responsible for what happened because she just can't see that she did anything wrong.
Maybe what made this novel enjoyable for me was that I did not hate Sara, oh believe me when I say that there were times when I wanted to punch her with a brick but all considered I was able to connect to her character. Many of her feelings I could get completely, mostly the ones after the suicide because before that she was kind of crazy.
She lost many things and like most teenagers /hell many adults would do the same/ she had to find someone who she could blame. So she did. Emma. Emma who was the slut of the school. Emma who stole Sara's boyfriend. Emma who hang herself and ruined Sara's life. Sara believes these things because this is what she wants to believe and not because she's stupid or such a bitch.
I think the only reason why after the mass amount of bullying I could still like Sara was because I could see where she came from. She had the perfect boyfriend, perfect relationship until some girl ruined it. Sara would not, could not see her ex as the villain so she took her rage out on the girl who hit on him. Unfortunately, this wasn't all, she had a best friend, Brielle who was a complete bitch and who didn't just make her hate Emma but made her question herself. For my taste Sara depended on others opinion way too much and believed everything what Brielle said. This still not make what she did okay and if that had been all I wouldn't have liked the story but it wasn't.
After the suicide Sara's life completely changed, she rarely leaves the house and has no idea about what her future will hold. It was the most wonderful thing to see how she slowly realized how many mistakes she made and how her so called best friend wasn't the best for her by far. She still made mistakes and the change in her was slow but it was there and it was real and that's what counts in the end.
Sometimes I felt really sorry for her, not that she wasn't drowning in self-pity already because how other people treated her was horrible. I'm not sure which was worse, how they whispered behind her back in school or how random people from the street sent her hateful glances. I mean at school no one protected Emma, no one but still they had big ass mouth like they didn't do anything.
"I never really understood irony when Mrs. Thale tried to teach us about it in English, but I sure get it now. Now that I get bullied for being a bully. I haven’t tried explaining it to the people at the grocery store, though. Mom says that they’re morons and I should ignore them, and for once I agree with her."
Another thing I really liked was how some things that Sara thought were completely true, some of these things criticized society like what she said above that others bullied her because she was a bully. Or this:
"And anyway, if what we all did was so horrible, why didn’t we get sued when Emma was still alive? "
The school had this huge anti-bullying policy but they didn't do anything at all when Emma was still alive, sorry to say that but asking two girls into the principal's office and talking to them isn't a serious action.
Remorse will not make Emma alive again, nothing will but by the end Sara realized that even if Emma would have been the evilest creature, she still hadn't deserved to be treated like trash.
There's always two sides of the story and I'm sad because we never get to see Emma's side who was apparently not an angel but not evil either. I'd love to read some parts of her life, see who she was because hearing that her parents weren't the best is simply not enough for me.
Carmichael was an important character for many reasons but unfortunately I couldn't love him because besides that he helped Sara I never felt like he did anything else.
“You going in? I mean, of course you are, I just—should we go?”
“Well, we’ve already come this far,” he (Carmichael) says. “Why not just enter the mouth of hell?”
Sara's little brothers were sooo adorable, I always like books in which there are little brothers.
All considered Tease was an incredible read about a girl's struggle to accept others and move on even if it seems impossible. I'm a bit sad though, I think Sara still needed to learn so much about real friendship and about love and actually we never got the chance to see her in a healthier relationship than what she had with Dylan. Anyway, I'd still recommend Tease to everyone who's interested in reading a very realistic story.
The story idea: 5/5
The realization of the story: 4/5
The characters: 5/5
The cover: 5/5