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.
The minute I read the blurb for this story, I was interested in reading it because it was such a different premise. All of the bully books that I’ve read to date have been told through the victim’s point of view so to finally get a book from the bully’s perspective? Yeah, I wanted to read it.
And then I started the book, and I stopped wanting to read it. I had to stop reading the book far too many times because my emotions kept getting the best of me. This book was not an easy book to read. It was an extremely hard story to get through because the main character, Sara, one of the bullies who harassed a girl so much that she ended her life, was not a likable character.
She was completely selfish and while that’s understandable, being a teenager and all, it did nothing to make me connect with her at all. There were times when I would put the book down and tell myself that I would not be picking this book back up again but I always made a liar of myself because I wanted to see if Sara would wake up and realize that her actions and her hatefulness led Emma Putnam to do what she did. And all over what? A freaking boy? It was hugely disappointing to read chapter after chapter of Sara feeling sorry for herself. Of reading Sara tell herself over and over again that she did nothing wrong, at the same time that we’re reading about her doing some pretty stupid and hurtful things to another girl.
One of the things that really pissed me off while reading this book was how Sara never really blamed Dylan for anything. Her anger and resentment was for Emma, and Emma alone. Dylan was her boyfriend, not Emma. Dylan cheated on Sara, not Emma. It was a really bitchy thing for Emma to do but still, you don’t hold Emma accountable for Dylan’s actions. And that’s the thing that pisses me off about teenagers in books like these, and I’ve seen it done in real life. Where the girl is always mad at the girl their boyfriend cheated on them with, but never really the boyfriend.
This is a really hard review to write because on one hand, I didn’t enjoy this book at all but on the other hand, it’s a book that I want my teenage daughter to read because I want her eyes to be opened to the right and wrong way to handle situations. There are lessons to be taught by reading this book and in that aspect, it’s a book that people with teenage kids should read and a book that they should make their kids read.
Emma wasn’t perfect but she didn’t deserve the treatment that she received. She didn’t deserve what Sara and her friends did and even though we see that Sara didn’t want to do a lot of what her friends were doing, she never stepped up and told them to stop. And it is because of that, Emma killed herself. Because they didn’t stop. And if you don’t feel right about something, then you speak up and you say, “Stop.” I wish that Sara had been stronger. The only person who seemed sorry about how everything turned out was Dylan.
I will say that this book has made me mighty curious to have Emma’s story. To read her story and to see what she was going through, what really happened between her and Dylan. Between her and Tyler. I think that would be an interesting story to read. But as for this book, it’s definitely not an easy story to read and the characters in the book do nothing to make you want to continue reading the book, but the story itself is powerful because it was about a bully dealing with the consequences of their actions. Some people learned their lesson and some people didn’t. And really, that’s real life for you.
Grade: 2 out of 5