Author: Amanda Maciel
Synopsis: 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.
During 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 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.
In this powerful debut novel inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar: a story of everyday jealousies and resentments, misunderstandings and desires. Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page.
Huge thank you to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for this ARC.
You’re going to either love this or hate this. I’ve seen A LOT of DNFs and 1-star ratings because people don’t like the narrator. She feels no remorse, she’s not sorry, she’s self-centered. I feel like that’s the point of this book though. The narrator, Sara, is part of a group of popular kids who bullied a girl until she killed herself. Sara doesn’t understand why she’s to blame. She didn’t make Emma kill herself. She didn’t KILL Emma. She doesn’t know why she has to be sorry, why she’s the one being attacked now. In her eyes, she’s blameless.
I think the biggest reason Sara doesn’t feel that she holds any blame is because she was essentially following her best friend through all of the bullying. Sara’s the side kick and her best friend is the mean girl. Sara does a lot of shit to keep up with Brielle, from sleeping with her boyfriend to bulling Emma both online and offline. Sara gets a kick out of being powerful, and essentially, anyone who is the bully does. That’s why people do it. They want to feel powerful, it makes them feel powerful. And with the internet these days… it’s just even easier.
The lack of empathy and remorse Sara and her friends show really highlights a huge problem that has cropped up these past 10 years with young people using facebook and twitter. I remember being harassed on livejournal when I was in college by my roommate and a group of her friends. I’ve seen my fair-share of online bullying. It makes me sad and sick. But it’s just so EASY. And it seems to be getting worse as time goes on.
I liked that this book showed the flip side of the bullying. Most books show what it’s like to be the bullied. I’ve read a lot of mean girl books where the popular girl loses her popularity and gets crushed. The fact that this story led to suicide and was shown from a different perspective made me think a lot. It’s hard to think about who is wrong, who is to blame, how should this be handled and fixed.
I liked the ending when Sara does start to feel sorry and remorseful. People make mistakes, teenagers especially. There are no excuses, and she doesn’t make a full recovery, she doesn’t suddenly become a saint. She essentially learns from her mistakes. And I guess that’s all we can hope for, really.
This story is told in first person with alternating chapters taking place in the past and the present. I LOVED this. The winter is when all of the bullying took place and the summer is when the deposition and aftermath took place. I loved the juxtaposition of the two seasons.
The only thing that I would have liked would have been more information about Emma. I never really felt like I had any sense of who she was and how she was feeling. We’re told a lot of information, but she’s surprisingly absent from the book (no pun intended). I would have liked more characterization for her.
This is another powerful mean girl story that I think fans of Courtney Summers would really enjoy. It also reminds me quite a bit of The Truth About Alice (coming out later this year, which I’ve already reviewed).