Tease by Amanda Maciel

The Blurb On The Back:

Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault.

At least, that’s what everyone seems to think when Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, are criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide.

But Emma brought it on herself.  Emma stole Sara’s boyfriend.  Emma stole everyone’s boyfriends.  Surely Sara was the victim, not Emma?

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

17-year-old Sara Wharton is on trial for harassment and stalking along with her best friend Brielle, ex-boyfriend Dylan and Dylan’s baseball teammates Jake and Kyle.  Their victim was 16-year-old Emma Putnam, a recent transfer to their High School who committed suicide as a result of the group’s bullying.  At least, that’s what everyone thinks.  But Sara doesn’t believe that she did anything wrong.  Everyone knew that Emma was a boyfriend-stealing slut who’d slept with half the boys in the school.  Everyone joined in.  So if anyone’s the victim it’s Sara, right?

Amanda Maciel’s debut YA contemporary novel is a thought-provoking take on school bullying told from the bully’s perspective and inspired by real life tragic events and although I think Maciel deals sensitively with a difficult subject, the victim is peculiarly under-developed, which means that you’re never quite sure what tipped her over and I think that did her – and other bullying victims – a disservice.  Sara is a well drawn character – needy and complicated, her friendship with the controlling but broken Brielle is especially well observed and I completely believed in her crush on Dylan and desire to be with him in part because of the kudos it gives her with Brielle and the other high school students.  Maciel also does well in drawing out Sara’s home life and the dependency placed on her by her mother in helping to look after her two younger brothers.  However I felt that Emma was too much of a cypher whose own story never really gets explored and as a result I didn’t really believe in her or understand why she decided to kill herself – in particular I wanted to know whether her promiscuity was real or projected and more about her relationship with Dylan.  I also felt that Brielle disappears towards the last quarter of the book and I wanted a resolution to her relationship with Sara beyond what’s presented on the page (the letter was a shallow device that offered nothing) and I also wanted more of the participation of the wider student body in the bullying and whether anyone else accepts their role in what happened.  That said the redemption romance with Carmichael evolved naturally and I felt that Sara’s self-revelation fitted in with the wider story.  Ultimately this is a thought-provoking look at a difficult subject and I would definitely check out Maciel’s next book.

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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