Review: Tease by Amanda Maciel

Thursday, April 17, 2014
Title: Tease
Author: Amanda Maciel
Genre: contemporary, young adult
Series: N/A
Pages: 336 
Published: expected April 29 2014
Source: publishers via edelweiss
Rating: 3/5

From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide.

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.

This is the second well-written, thoughtful issue book about bullying I've read in the last two months. Like with Jennifer Mathieu's saddening The Truth About Alice, Amanda Maciel's debut tackles big issues with complicated (or unknowable) characters, but tries to examine the way denigrating words and clique-ish behavior can have unintended, and serious consequences. Told with dual timelines, the book closely examines the way people can judge and mistreat one another. It's not a comfortable read -- it will make some readers angry, others sad -- but Tease is a worthy addition to the bullying conversation.

I can appreciate what  Maciel was attempting to do with Tease, even if the end result left me emotionally cold. Part of that could be because as the author Maciel presents the story so dispassionately, or because the foregone conclusion of Emma's death colors every action of the antagonists with an unintended level of malice. I thought the plot a good, realistic adaptation of the bullying problems that face so many real teens, but couldn't emotionally invest or empathize with the cast of Sara, Brielle, Dylan, etc. But, then again, that was part of the point of Tease for me. 

The fact is these aren't necessarily evil people, but they're thoughtless, selfish, clueless teenagers. That doesn't come close to forgiving them what happens, but it helps to explain and foster and understanding. The narrator Sara shows a marked growth and maturity over the course of the book, but this is much more a plot book than a character-book. You don't really finish the story knowing anyone -- Emma Putnam least of all (mirror Alice from The Truth About Alice who also had no say in her own story). For me, Tease was a story much more about the society that created the situation than the individuals who operated within that frame.

I thought the story would have been stronger without the romance. The lack of an emotional reaction to any of the story and the unnecessary (if charming) Carmichael plotline distracted from the many strengths of Tease. A promising debut unafraid to paint unforgiving pictures, Maciel's debut is hopefully a harbinger of more good things to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Copyright © 2015 Ageless Pages Reviews. All Rights Reserved.

Amelia Theme by The Lovely Design CO and These Paper Hearts.