Amanda Maciel's Tease is a refreshing and original take on how far bullying can go and the consequences that such harsh harassment can have on both the bully and the victim. Tease chooses a different route from most novels about high school bullying and focuses on Sara, the bully, rather than Emma, the victim. Sara's insecurities and willingness to go along with whatever the popular kids tell her to do make Sara an interesting main character as well as a heartless bully. Pushed to the breaking point, Emma kills herself leaving Sara and her friends to stand trial for their actions. Rarely does a book focus on the consequences of bullying, but much like Jennifer Brown's Hate List, Tease showcases how bullying can be taken to deadly level.
Sara's unwillingness to understand why she stands trial is one of the most compelling pieces of her character. She's incredibly unlikable and impossible to feel sorry for, yet somehow you do. Her pliability stems from her lack of self-confidence which we can all relate to. Her need to fit in with the popular kids leads her to make hasty decisions and misguided choices. Her best friend, Brielle, is the only friend she truly has, and Brielle is the mastermind behind every viscous prank. Sara, in some ways, is also a victim. A victim of peer pressure, poor self-esteem, bullying on a minor scale, and the harsh realities of high school. I'm not saying that this excuses anything she does, but being that Tease is told from the perspective of the bully, as a reader I wanted to understand her and see her grow into a better person. We've all been bullies because we want to fit in, and we've all been bullied because with some groups we just don't. Tease digs deep into the complexities of high school bullying revealing that sometimes motives aren't as simple as they seem. Tease is an extraordinary novel that tackles real life issues in a way I've never seen before making Amanda Maciel a name to watch out for.
-- Anna from Books Inc. Palo Alto