Tease by Amanda Maciel

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Tease by Amanda Maciel

Category: Teens
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Jill Murphy
Reviewed by Jill Murphy
Summary: Strong story about bullying and its horrific consequences. Told by a not always reliable narrator, it will challenge readers while drawing them in to a very recognisable world.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 368 Date: May 2014
Publisher: Hodder
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 1444918710

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Emma Putnam killed herself and it was all Sara's fault. If Sara and her other mean girl friends hadn't hounded and bullied Emma to the ends of the world, Emma would still be alive. And so now it's Sara's turn to be ostracised - by her old friends, by the community in which she lives, and even by the media.

But is it all as simple as that? As simple as a mean girl getting her just deserts? We follow Sara in the build-up to the court case Emma's parents have brought against her. It's not an easy read because Sara is rude, uncommunicative, resentful, and above all - NOT SORRY.

I think Tease is going to polarise readers. And I think that is a good thing. Unreliable narrators are always tricky to read and Sara is particularly tricky. She was part and parcel of some concerted vicious bullying that led to a teenage girl committing suicide. And Sara can't understand why she should be sorry. After all, the dead girl, Emma, stole Sara's boyfriend. She stole other people's boyfriends too. And the only person who put a noose around Emma's neck was Emma herself.

How many readers will ask, can I read about a person like that?

But here's the horrible truth: while few of us have been a part of bullying so severe that someone has died, equally few of us can claim that we have never spread gossip, been unnecessarily mean about or to another person or failed to stand up and be counted when someone else is being bullied and it doesn't affect us. Tease holds up a mirror to us all and it asks us all to be brave enough to judge ourselves.

The book also covers slut-shaming - there's little other than gossip that suggests Emma was hooking up with so many boys and even if she was, so what? - the pressure to have sex too early - and it's not even Emma who succumbs to that - and the way in which one strong negative personality can so strongly affect group behaviour in the pressure cooker environment of high school.

As a mother of teenagers rather than a teenager myself, I found Tease an impossibly sad read. But this isn't a book for me. It's a provocative topic and I hope the feelings it is sure to provoke will lead its readers into honest discussions and perhaps even the courage to stand aside from the herd if that's the right thing to do.

Carnaby by Cate Sampson also features an unreliable narrator, as does Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas. And for another story exploring the important subject of bullying, try Don't Call Me Ishmael by Michael Gerard Bauer.

Buy Tease by Amanda Maciel at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tease by Amanda Maciel at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy Tease by Amanda Maciel at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Tease by Amanda Maciel at Amazon.com.


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Jim Dean said:

Fab review, Jill! I wasn't planning on reading this because I didn't think I could cope with reading about someone who'd done something so terrible, but a friend pressed her copy on me and demanded I read it. It's one of the best of the year so far for me - as you say, it will certainly polarise readers, but I think it's massively powerful and really thought-provoking. I hope it's read by lots of teens, parents and teachers.

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The Bookbag said:

Thanks, Jim. I just hope readers will follow it to the end.