Today’s book review is about Amanda Maciel’s debut novel called Tease. Tease follows the story of Sara Wharton, a teenage girl, who has been charged (along with 3 friends) for the bullying and harassment that ultimately lead fellow classmate, Emma Putnam, to commit suicide.
I am a sucker for YA high school novels that involve bullying/mean-girls-being-mean, but getting what they deserve in the end. A book that I can read in a couple hours, but still enjoy and be done with. So, that’s kind of what I was expecting from this. But it surpassed my expectations.
The novel is set both in the present day as well as the past (up until Emma’s death), all told from Sara’s perspective. While Sara was mean, she wasn’t the mean girl; that would be her best friend Brianna, who is the stereotypical mean girl in every YA novel (rich, pretty, vapid, extremely mean). But that doesn’t stop Sara from following her every whim and enjoying it. She doesn’t seem to ever regret any of the mean things she’s said or any of the mean pranks she’s done (either to Emma or to others), and that added an element of surprise to the story.
I mean, Maciel, played devil’s advocate for the reader. She shows us some moments where Sara’s not a complete bitch and you kind of feel sorry for her home life, but then you remember she did harass a girl until she committed suicide. And yes, all of the pranks she did were actually terrible, and you’re left wondering whether you sympathize with Sara at all because you don’t want to.
Sara was a realistic character because it seemed like how a teenage girl may react in that situation. She was clearly bothered that she was charged with this crime, but she bottles up her emotions, doesn’t talk to any one about it, but does not wholly regret what she did either because she believed Emma was just as mean/rude/vapid etc. as she was. It was a nice contrast in relation to other books about bullying where the author makes you feel sorry for the bully. I didn’t feel sorry for Sara at all; she got herself in that situation, but she did grow as a character by the end of the book.
Overall, a nice change to read when it comes to YA bullying/teen angst, and I look forward to more of Maciel’s novels in the future.