Published by Hachette Book Group on 1 May 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Young Adult
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. In 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 own 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.
With its powerful narrative, unconventional point of view, and strong anti-bullying theme, this coming-of-age story offers smart, insightful, and nuanced views on high school society, toxic friendships, and family relationships.
*I received a free ARC of Tease from Hachette Children’s Books via Netgalley in exchange of an honest and unbiased review*
My Tease Review
Tease is a hard story to read, for several reasons, one being that it is about bullying taken so far the victim takes her own life. The other thing that made it hard to read is that the whole story in Tease is from the point of view of one of the young girls who bullied Emma until she could no longer take it. And while I think it’s both interesting and courageous to write a book about bullying from that point of view, I think it also made it harder to actually connect with the main character.
Sara is very self-absorbed for almost all of Tease, she doesn’t have a lot of empathy, and she hates Emma almost on sight – mostly because Emma is good-looking and has friends that are boys. Sara is a very insecure girl herself, though, and she has realized for a long time that her best friend Brielle as a friend rather than an enemy. For a lot of what happens in Tease, though, it seems as if Sara is using Brielle as an excuse, though, instead of actually understanding how much of a hell she participated in making Emma’s life.
At the same time, the fact that Tease is written from a different point of view, and that Sara doesn’t realize how bad it is to be completely ostracized in school until this very thing happens to herself, certainly makes the readers think long and hard about the devastating effects of bullying. And for that purpose, I guess it is normal that Sara seems very unlikable, selfish and only sees what she wants to see, as she clearly wasn’t able to see how much Emma was suffering, in part because of her.
The point of Tease seems to be to bring more awareness to bullying, and I think it is well done in part because it is very different from reading such a story from a victim’s point of view. To see that teenagers who seem ‘normal’ and more or less well-adjusted can become bullies and actually not truly realize it themselves. Even if Sara is not exactly introspective, she does understand towards the end that her actions made Emma’s life hell on earth, and even if she might still not feel responsible – because she didn’t actively want Emma to die, nor did she kill her directly – she does see that she did have a part in why Emma decided that she couldn’t take it anymore.
Because bringing awareness to bullying is so important, I think Tease is likewise important for the cause. The fact that Sara seems like a normal teen in many ways also shows us that there is not a specific type of person who bullies, and that the reasons why the vicious circle starts are not very easy to pin-point. Did Tease make me angry? Yes, it certainly did! I wanted to shake Sara and tell her that her problems are nothing compared to what she put Emma through. However, Tease has also made me think even more about bullying, the effect it has on people, and how much more aware parents need to be about what their teens are doing online as well as offline. And it also makes a big point about judging people we don’t know based solely on our own perceptions.
Tease is written in first person point of view, present time; but with flash-backs to things that happened between Sara and Emma from the first time they met. The writing is good, and it was rather creepy to be inside of Sara’s head, because it was not a happy place at all. If you want to read a different story about bullying, you should pick up Tease, but be prepared to hate on Sara a little, and also to feel very frustrated with her selfishness.
Some of my favorite quotes
‘Yeah. I guess so. Was that a Tuesday? You know, because we have gym on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so I think it was a Tuesday.’ The no-eye-contact lawyer nods and then, of course, writes that down. Or she writes down, toilet paper, orange juice, I don’t know. Jesus, this is boring.
And now the whole world thinks Emma Putnam killed herself because we called her a slut – not because she was a slut. That makes sense.
Seriously, if what happened with Emma pushed everyone to suicide, every highs school in America would be empty.
I suddenly wonder if maybe she skips school all the time because it’s hard to get picked on every day, or called the wrong name or whatever, like you don’t belong. Like I’ve been feeling. But then she turns to Beth and they start laughing about something. They get into Beth’s care together and I remember: even among the outcasts, I’m the biggest loser.
Being with Brielle made me pretty, made me belong. Made me laugh. Being with Dylan made me a real person – people could see me.