Tease is a controversial and thought-provoking novel, written by Amanda Maciel.
Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault.
At least, that’s what everyone seems to think when 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. But Sara is sure she’s done nothing wrong and that Emma brought it on herself. Sara is adamant that she was the victim – not Emma.
This book has been on my To-Be-Read pile for ages, and so I was thrilled to finally get around to it. I knew this was going to be unlike anything I’d ever read before when I picked up this book, and boy, was I right. Tease is a book that I think everyone should read at some point in their lives. It teaches us that there’s never just one side to a story and that everyone deserves to have their voice heard. While this can be viewed as simply a sad book with unlikable characters, it’s so much more than that. It’s touching and heart-breaking and teaches us that people make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve to be given a chance to be forgiven. This is both a controversial and thought-provoking novel, and one which I highly recommend.
Let’s talk about one of the main ‘issues’ that people have with this book. I’m just going to put it out there – the characters in this book aren’t very likeable, particularly not our protagonist. Most of the characters are immature and insecure, willing to belittle others to gain some twisted sense of power and confidence. These types of people are not always so willing to admit that what they’ve done is wrong and often blame the victim for the bullying. But the point is… you’re not meant to like the characters. It’s meant to give you an insight into the minds of bullies and experience what they can think and why they can act the way they do. In that way, this book felt exceptionally and tragically real.
What’s important to keep in mind while reading this book is that Sara, our protagonist and bully, it’s evil. Sure, she’s made some bad decisions, but that doesn’t mean she’s irrevocably and undeniably villainous. In fact, I’m going to make a bold statement here and say that I see her as another victim. It’s hard to like her, yes, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t feel sorry for her. She desperately wants to be liked by Brielle, her friend and the ‘Queen Bee’, and is willing to go to extreme lengths to do so. She doesn’t realise that their friendship is toxic, and that’s a tragic thing. Who knows? Maybe Sara wouldn’t have been in the same position as she ended up if she hadn’t have been friends with Brielle. It’s definitely not easy to sympathise with Sara, but I urge every reader to be open-minded while reading this book and dig deeper into the personalities of the characters and don’t be too quick to judge and criticise them. Wouldn’t you want to be judged based on more than one back-handed remark?
If you want a book that accurately and even painfully portrays high school bullying, look no further than Tease. One of the things that was most troubling to read about was how the bullies blamed the victim for being outcast and ridiculed. It was hard to imagine how a bully could blame their victim before I began reading this book, but as the novel progressed, I came to understand what kind of things they thought to justify their actions. Tease certainly doesn’t defend bullying or say that it’s okay, but it allows the reader to experience this from another person’s perspective and allows them to realise that not every story is one-sided.
Another great thing about this book was how it was told from two times – before Emma’s suicide and after, the past and the present. These alternating chapters allowed me to really understand the characters and the strong contrasts between these two seasons. I was pleased to find that this book was never hard to follow and it didn’t feel like it was jumping around that much. This book was fast-paced and impossible to put down. From the moment I picked up this book I was desperate to see how things worked out. I couldn’t be more pleased with the ending and I’m so glad to have read this book. This story will definitely stay with me for a long time.
I strongly believe we need more books like this one. Yes, it’s great to be able to escape from reality for a few hours and swoon over fictional romances, but it’s also important to think deeper about an issue that is all too common in society. This book will make you mad and frustrated and upset, and I think that’s one of the best thing about Tease. But it also allows you to make up your own mind about whether some of the actions of the characters was justifiable. This novel doesn’t force anti-bullying slogans down your throat, which was a relief. Tease could have easily turned into a book that shamed the bullies and proclaimed that all bullies should be burnt at the stake. However, it allowed us to realise that bullies don’t often realise that they are bullies, and they can’t see that their actions are wrong a lot of the time. It allowed me to consider whether their actions were always uncalled for or not, and I know that this would spark a lot of debate amongst readers.
Overall, this is an extremely thought-provoking and controversial novel which will haunt you long after you’ve turned the last page. I definitely recommend this book to everyone who is looking for something different and will go into this book with an open mind, but be warned that the characters are not all that likeable and some of the themes are quite dark. I’d give Tease by Amanda Maciel a score of 9 out of 10. Let’s discuss this book! Have you read it or are you planning on reading it? What are your opinions on the themes of this book? Are you willing to read about ‘unlikeable’ characters? Have you read any books similar to this one? I’d love to know 🙂