This review of Tease by Amanda Maciel may contain spoilers. I’m not certain I can fully express why I did not enjoy this book without saying a bit about the plot.
I had high hopes for this novel (maybe too high) when I saw it pop up in the blogosphere. What caught my eye were the descriptions about how it shows the bully’s side of the story and the cause and effect of the bullying actions after the person being bullied commits suicide. The book does cover that, in a sense, but I don’t feel the message is delivered effectively as I had hoped.
Sarah, the main character, is a tag-a-long. She’s not necessarily the main bully; at least I didn’t see her that way. One could argue that Sarah, herself, is being bullied by the toxic group of girls she chooses to hang out with. Sarah doesn’t quite fit in socially or economically with the gaggle of popular girls, she seems to become the scapegoat in the trial that follows Emma’s death. Her parents are divorced. She can’t afford the fancy lawyer. In my opinion, Sarah didn’t lead the majority of attacks and suffers from Stockholm Syndrome. Her strong need to have Brielle accept her, drives her to ignore what her conscience tells her almost every time she’s in a bad situation. She tries desperately to be a good friend with Brielle despite what she knows is wrong.
In the end, Sarah does realize that her participation has caused irreparable harm. The fact not all the bullies came to the same conclusion and because some of them had better lawyers than others, I feel Sarah paid a higher price in the courtroom, in the public’s eyes and especially emotionally. As a result, I was disappointed in how the story wrapped up. I understand that not everything is fair in life, but if this book was truly about the bullies coming to grips with how their actions caused Emma’s suicide, Brielle and the others would have paid a greater price.