Published by Balzer & Bray on April 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Source: For Review
I received this book for review consideration from the publisher. This in no way swayed my opinion of the book. Pinky swear!
Want an “at a glance” look at what I thought? Check out my Review On A Post-It or my “Final Thought”
Okay so Tease is told from the perspective of a girl who, along with her best friend and others, bullied another girl who ended up killing herself. It goes back and forth between what started the bullying/led to the suicide and then also is in the present where she’s fighting a case against her and the others for their responsibility in the girl’s death as well as trying to live life after this event.
What a compelling book! There was a lot of good and then there were some little details that would have made for a BETTER experience for me. I think, altogether, it is a powerful read (albeit a frustrating one at times) that will stir up a good conversation. I absolutely couldn’t put it down because it made my stomach all in knots.
Here’s what I liked about it:
1. Being in the head of the BULLY made for an interesting experience: Okay, so I’m just putting it out there. YOU ARE GOING TO BE FRUSTRATED. We are in the head of a girl who bullied a girl with her friends (though her bff was the mastermind) and was AWFUL… and for most of the books can’t see that she did anything wrong. But the thing there was constantly a war waging war in my head because we really get to know her — the good and the bad and what makes her tick — and it made it hard for me to HATE her despite the fact I wanted to strangle her half the time. We see her side of the story and, though I disagree with a lot that she did OBVIOUSLY, I really was able to understand in some ways where she was coming from — NOT that bullying is the answer. The girl who was bullied, Emma, from what we see actually DID things to warrant some of the feelings that she had towards her and was not innocent in the beginning situation. Stealing her boyfriend? Yeah no. Not cool. I GET that rage. I was mad FOR her. (Mad at the boyfriend too). I get the wanting revenge (not the actual carrying out of). I get that sometimes jealousy and fear and insecurities can manifest and it’s not pretty. I GET IT. As humans we are capable of these ugly emotions and feel them intensely. But the actual letting those feelings manifest into action like THAT? That’s where it was hard to stomach for me and I would feel so angry as 28 year old reader Jamie like, “NO! WHY! STOP!” But then I would feel compassion for her because, as a reader, we know she’s not just a 100% evil person despite what an AWFUL thing she was part of (and as an old lady I was like…ahh so many years to learn and grow from this).
It’s not black and white and I LOVED THAT because people rarely are so easy to put into a box. We never know the whole story — sometimes we just see the tip of the iceberg and we don’t know what is going on underneath. This story really captured that on all sides — especially Sara and a bit with Emma. There was obvious wrong and right but there was A LOT of grey for the reader to wade through.
2. It’s so, so relevant with all the bullying cases making headlines: There’s so many questions this novel brings up and I love that the author did not answer them but posed them through this story. There’s a lot to navigate — especially with online bullying. Emma’s bullying takes place in school, harassment outside of school and there is some vicious bullying on social media. During the whole book there’s the questions of: who is responsible? Should the bullies be held responsible and to what degree? What constitutes bullying and what is just catty teen stuff? It was just a really thought-provoking and compelling read because it’s so realistic and relevant.
Now despite the gripping and page-turning aspects and all the GOOD there were some things I needed to make it better:
1. At certain points it would linger and I found myself bored: Some of the timeline kind of would drag out and I’d just kind of be like OKAY LET’S GET ON WITH THIS.
2. I felt like a lot of the other characters fell a bit flat: I felt like our main character was really pretty fleshed out but some of the other characters just had nothing to them at all which frustrated me. Even with the one moment of vulnerability we see with Brielle, I still felt she just felt like a standard mean girl with nothing really to her. Carmichael was the most fully realized character, I thought, besides Sara but I still felt like he didn’t JUMP out at me. I liked him alright but I felt like I was missing something in his development. And even Emma was just like this sort of person to me. We know she steals Sara’s boyfriend and clearly has some things going on in her own life but other than that she just IS the person Sara is fighting against. I wish we could have learned more about her in the end. OR oh my gosh I would love an Emma novella or something to learn more about her!
+ the complexity of the main character, the unique way this story is told, how much it made me think & the conversation that can happen because of this book
– bad pacing at times despite me furiously turning pages for most of it, a lot of flat characters
Re-readability: Probably not. It was a one time read kind of deal.
Would I buy a copy for my collection? No but I want to buy it for every teen I know! And I want to make sure all the teachers and libraries have it on their shelves (I wish I could fund that).
people who don’t mind really difficult characters, people who are interested in books about bullying or slut-shaming that isn’t preachy and shows different sides, people who are looking for a good conversation starter or book club read (MAN I wish my book club read this), lovers of contemporary YA that deal with tough issues, people who liked Speechless by Hannah Harrington
What a uniquely crafted story dealing with bullying and slut-shaming that manages to NOT be preachy or make everything black and white. I was so intrigued by the POV of the bully and loved the switching of the story in the past and the present. I love a book that I REALLY have to engage with and think about and this book was certainly that. While it wasn’t a technically WOW book for me for a couple reasons, it really did absolutely pull me in and I do recommend it!
* Have you read this one? What did you think? Similar or different from me? I would LOVE to hear regardless!
* If you haven’t read it, is it something on your radar or that you think you will read?
* If you read, HOW FRUSTRATED WERE YOU WITH SARA ON A SCALE OF 1-10?? Did it impact your rating of the book or no? (It did not impact my rating personally).
* Does anyone else need an Emma novella?? LIKE I NEED IT.