Tease by Amanda Maciel
Young Adult Fiction (bullying and suicide)
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Rating: 4 stars
Provocative, unforgettable, and inspired by real-life incidents, Amanda Maciel's highly acclaimed debut novel Tease is the story of a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide. 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.
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.
I find myself at a loss for words when reviewing this book because it is extremely unconventional. The subject matter of bullying is the main theme of this book of course, but rather than focusing on how the victim feels and lives through the torment, we are taken into the mind of the teenage bully herself, Sara. This is very clever on the authors part however, readers are going to find it very hard to relate and connect with the character simply because it was her actions (along with her friends) that lead to the suicide of a classmate whose name is Emma. There were many points in this book where I shook my head and even moments when I wanted to stop reading it because Sara is such an unlikeable character, but I kept reading anyway to see where everything would go. Was I disappointed? Yes and no. Yes because I felt like the ending was kind of a letdown – I wanted more justice than what was served - and no because it was so interesting to be able to get into the mind of the tormentor (which is rarely done in any books) and see how and why things progressed as they did.
With that being said, this book really does a great job at diving into the minds of teenagers. Sure, many of us were not bullies in high school, but seeing the driving force behind everything in this novel made sense for the age. Adolescence after all, is a really hard time for many people, and when someone is stealing your boyfriend and screwing with your clique you are bound to do something unimaginable. Right? In high school, this is common. Everything seems more grandiose and life threatening at this age, and the author does a wonderful job of bringing this to life. Just be aware that if you do read this book that there is a lot of “slut shaming” and nastiness that will ooze from these characters. It may not be pretty, but think back to high school. I am sure some of you will remember exactly what that was like and how teenagers acted and ran off their mouths whether it be true or not. The author doesn’t seem to be condoning this behavior but she sure writes it as if she lived it herself to and I commend her for that.
Overall, this is not an easy read and I am sure you will either love it or hate it. There really is no in between. But, because I am a reviewer I wanted to make sure that I understood the point of the story and where the author was going when she wrote it, so I remained partial to the story until I could come to grips with what I was reading. Now, for me this could have been a 5 star review because of its uniqueness and the message the author was portraying, but because the characters came off a little dry and immature (yes, I know this is normal for the age) I had to go down a star. But believe me when I say this, the story is very good ESPECIALLY because it’s so unlikable. This may not make sense to you, but when you read it you will know what I mean.
RELEASE DATE: April 25, 2017
Lucky Girl is an unflinching exploration of beauty, sexual assault, and self-worth, from the author of the acclaimed novel Tease. Perfect for readers of Sara Zarr and Courtney Summers.
Being a pretty girl is who Rosie is, but it’s the start of a new school year and she wants to be more. Namely, she’s determined to be better to her best friend, Maddie, who’s just back from a summer program abroad having totally blossomed into her own looks. Rosie isn’t thrilled when Maddie connects with a football player who Rosie was hooking up with—but if it makes her friend happy, she’s prepared to move on. Plus someone even more interesting has moved to town: Alex, who recently garnered public attention after he stopped a classmate from carrying out a shooting rampage at his old high school. Rosie is drawn to Alex in a way she’s never really experienced for a boy before—and she is surprised to discover that, unlike every other guy, he seems to see more to her than her beauty.
Then one night, in the midst of a devastating storm, Rosie suffers an assault that tears apart her life and friendship with Maddie. Forced to face uncomfortable truths about beauty, reputation, and what it really means to be a friend, Rosie realizes that change doesn’t always happen the way you want it to—every disaster has consequences. But with a lot of help and the right people around you, there might also be a way forward.