tease by maciel book coverReviewed by Melanie Kline

Bullying is a huge issue these days. Bullying has always existed but public attempts to stop bullying is a fairly recent development. Bullying can come in so many forms – emotional, physical, sexual, etc. Tease is based on a true story of bullying.

Sara Wharton is on trial with her best friend and three other classmates for the death of Emma Putnam. Sara and her friends bullied Emma relentlessly because Emma was dating Sara’s ex-boyfriend. Unable to handle the harassment, Emma hung herself.

Sara and her friends decided to wage war on Emma and ruin her reputation. They spread lies, completely ignored her when they weren’t making rude and hurtful comments and even started a Facebook page about her that practically went viral. Sara and her friends were popular at school and people either believed what they said about Emma or just participated in the bullying in order to stay in the good graces of and friends with Sara and her “gang”.

Emma was a truly sweet girl who had a really difficult life and never meant to hurt anyone. It was not her fault that Sara’s boyfriend left her in favor of Emma. Sara began her attack on Emma the minute she saw her in the school. Emma was the pretty new girl and Sara felt threatened from the first moment she laid eyes on Emma. Her constant tormenting and trash talking only made Tyler want to shield and protect Emma from Sara.

After Emma’s death, everyone in the school turns on Sara and puts the blame on her and her friends. Even then Sara remains indignant that Emma’s death is completely on Emma and that she was a weak person to begin with. Sara never accepts responsibility for any of her actions that led up to the suicide until she is at the trial and comes face to face with Emma’s parents. Even then, she does not grasp the full reality of the terrible situation.

I feel that Tease could have been better written but since it is based on a true story that I have no knowledge of, I could well be wrong. Tease addresses the bullying issue but does so primarily from Sara’s perspective–we never get much of Emma’s side of the story. I felt that Emma’s perspective would have been valuable to the story.

I would recommend this book to anyone who isn’t familiar with bullying and its consequences. There are so many forms of bullying and most people would not even recognize certain actions as constituting bullying.

Rating: ★★★☆☆ 

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Harper Collins. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.