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3.8 12
by Amanda Maciel

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

At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the


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

At least, that's what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma's shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who's ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media.

During the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her role in an undeniable tragedy. And she'll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

In this powerful debut novel inspired by real-life events, Amanda Maciel weaves a narrative of high school life as complex and heartbreaking as it is familiar: a story of everyday jealousies and resentments, misunderstandings and desires. Tease is a thought-provoking must-read that will haunt readers long after the last page.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Inspired by a real-life case of bullying and suicide, editor Maciel’s debut novel depicts a harsh environment of name-calling, both face-to-face and via social media, and girls policing other girls’ behavior. When new student Emma seems to have eyes for Sara’s boyfriend, Dylan, Sara and her best friend Brielle label Emma a slut. Maciel isn’t telling Emma’s story—she’s telling Sara’s, in sections that alternate between the escalating bullying and the aftermath, with Emma dead and Sara stuck in summer school and her lawyer’s and therapist’s offices. It’s hard to be with Sara as she insists that it’s Emma’s fault, that “No one hung the rope for her,” but as Maciel reveals Sara’s desperate efforts to hang onto a social viability that’s tied to Brielle and Dylan, the pressures of her world become clear. It’s to the author’s credit that she doesn’t make Sara immediately sympathetic, but the end, with Sara moving forward in a way that incorporates what happened rather than denying it, although welcome, feels rushed. Ages 14–up. Agent: Holly Root, Waxman Leavell Literary Agency. (May)
VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Twila A. Sweeney
Although Emma is tormented throughout this exciting and painful novel, she never speaks, which seems unlikely. Her perspective is needed, as reasons for not defending herself and the behaviors that triggered the harassment remain unknown. The characters’ actions are disappointingly typical of any high schooler, especially when rumors are spread, entitled girls feel threatened, and parents are unaware. Sadly, Emma’s suicide means more to the adults than to the students, due to legal issues. Reviewer: Twila A. Sweeney, Teen Reviewer; Ages 11 to 15.
VOYA, June 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 2) - Lisa Hazlett
The summer after Sara’s junior year is very different from the carefree one she anticipated. Instead of pool parties and planning for senior year; she, her best friend Brielle, and three others are facing criminal charges for relentlessly bullying their classmate, Emma, into hanging herself. After discovering Emma’s texts to Sara’s boyfriend, Brielle and Sara bombard her with shockingly cruel Internet postings and personal harassments. Brielle masterminds their torments while Sara assists, partly for Brielle’s approval but also because she believes that Emma was no saint and made equally spiteful choices, including suicide. Vilified by the media and separated from friends, Sara now resentfully shuttles between her attorney and therapist while attending summer school. Although expected to reflect upon her role in Emma’s death, Sara continues to feel unjustly accused, hotly arguing she hardly killed her. It is not until beginning her senior year, away from Brielle’s sway and grounded by family and a thoughtful new boyfriend, that Sara can more accurately become retrospective. Based on an actual event and narrated by Sara, this riveting page-turner switches from the present to junior year, painfully tracing the girls’ relentless harassment. Although Emma’s voice is unheard and needed, readers see how quickly technology, carelessly used to express anger, exacerbates and accelerates bad behavior, creating overwhelming situations for the immature teens involved. Worse, adult supervision is cursory until tragedy occurs, with subsequent attempts to place blame elsewhere and reduce or eliminate consequences, mirroring the teens’ actions and again silencing Emma, an especially important point. Helpful bullying resources conclude this haunting novel. Reviewer: Lisa Hazlett; Ages 11 to 15.
Kirkus Reviews
An intense examination of bullying from a seldom-heard-from side: the bully's. After months of physical and verbal intimidation, stalking and cyberbullying, 16-year-old Emma Putnam hangs herself. Her classmates, high school juniors Sara Wharton, Brielle Greggs, and several of their friends are being held accountable for playing a role in Emma's death. Sara narrates the story in chapters that alternate between the present and the two months leading up to Emma's death. Readers will surely hate Sara from the start. She shows no remorse for tormenting Emma, the school "slut," whom Sara sees as a threat intent on stealing her boyfriend, Dylan. Sara and Brielle launch a full-on campaign against Emma, with each "prank" more vicious than the last. After Emma's death, the bully becomes the bullied, and Sara finds herself being made fun of, ignored and called a slut herself. She finds a friend in summer school classmate Carmichael, who is sympathetic to both Sara and Emma and who reminds readers there are two sides to every story. The moving story is informed by the 2010 bullying and suicide of Massachusetts teen Phoebe Prince and is bound to open up debate on who is to blame when a bullied teen commits suicide. Maciel includes an author's note describing her decision to write the book as well as a list of anti-bullying resources. An emotional, deftly paced and heartbreaking first novel. (Fiction. 14-18)
Katie Cotugno
“Tease is a book I wish I’d written—shocking, subtle, and emotionally raw.”
Jennifer Brown
“Tease masterfully shows that when it comes to bullying, nothing is black and white, no side of the story is the only side of the story, and there are no winners. A compulsive read, and an absolute must-add to all bullying discussions.”
Ellen Hopkins
“Horrifying. Satisfying. Remarkable in so many ways. Tease is a brave debut.”
Courtney Summers
“Amanda Maciel’s timely exploration of bullying pulls no punches. Tease is a bold, hard-hitting and memorable debut that needs to be read and talked about.”
“The novel enters fearsome territory honestly and will give teenagers a great deal to think about.”
Justine Magazine
“This powerful and realistic Mean Girls story had us addicted from page one... A thought provoking must-read that haunted us after the last page.”
“First-time novelist Maciel has done an exemplary job of giving readers a multidimensional portrait of a bully that is psychologically acute and emotionally resonant. Realistic and suffused with truth, Tease is an excellent choice for both independent reading and classroom use.”
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Who is responsible when a bullied teen commits suicide? Sara and her friends find themselves embroiled in a legal nightmare after new classmate Emma hangs herself following months of their ruthless harassment. In Sara's mind, Emma was at fault: she stole Sara's boyfriend, so retaliation was fair game, and suicide was an unwarranted overreaction. That the story is told from a bully's perspective adds complexity to this compelling, ripped-from-the-headlines novel. The characters are three-dimensional and nobody is completely right or wrong in this realistic exploration of how bullying-related suicide affects everyone involved. Sara is in denial about her reprehensible actions, and readers who love a flawed character will root for her as she comes to terms with her role in Emma's death. It's clear how easily Sara got caught up in the act of bullying through the influence of her mean-girl best friend, Brielle. The two carelessly indulge in cyberbullying as well as face-to-face taunting, effectively demonstrating how cruelty can seem so simple when there are no immediate consequences. Family bonds and a tentatively blossoming romance play a vital role in Sara's journey to self-awareness. This nuanced look at a controversial topic will keep readers hooked until its satisfying conclusion and makes great fodder for discussion among high school students.—Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.50(d)
HL810L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Amanda Maciel has worked in book publishing since graduating from Mount Holyoke College and is currently an executive editor of children’s books. She spends her free time writing, running, and helping raise her young son with her husband and their cat in Brooklyn, New York. Tease is her first novel.

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Tease 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
Sarah_UK1 More than 1 year ago
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to HarperCollins and Edelweiss.) 17-year-old Sara didn’t want Emma Putnam to kill herself, she just wanted her to stop sleeping with her boyfriend, but that’s not the way the general public saw things when Emma committed suicide. Did Sara’s bullying lead to Emma’s death though? And should Sara and her friends be held responsible? This was an interesting story about bullying, but I could definitely see both sides of the story. Sara was quiet a hard character. She believed that she was in the right, and while she didn’t want Emma to kill herself, she still thought that Emma had brought the bullying on herself for sleeping with other people’s boyfriends, which to be quite honest, she kind-of did. The storyline in this was pretty good. I know a lot of other people haven’t liked this book, but I did. I was really interested to find out what exactly had been going on, and how Emma came to commit suicide, and while the bullying was bad at times, I liked how we saw things from the bully’s perspective rather than the victims. At face value it may have seemed that Sara and her friends were just bullying Emma, but for Sara it wasn’t that simple. This is where I can see both sides of the story; because yes – Sara was calling Emma nasty names on facebook, and pulling mean pranks on her, but also – Emma was flirting with, and having sex with Sara’s boyfriend behind her back. Okay, Sara should maybe have gotten angry with her boyfriend as well as Emma, but when Emma was going around sleeping with as many boys as possible, you can see why Sara was annoyed. I think a lot of the problems in this book were due to peer pressure, because Sara most likely would not have thought up these pranks on her own, and she wouldn’t have spent an hour calling Emma names on facebook if there was nobody else around encouraging her to go on. I think this book could have been improved if we’d had access to Emma’s point of view as well. I felt like I was only getting half of the story all the time, as who knows if the information Sara was getting about Emma was really true? Did Emma sleep with Dylan? Who instigated it? Was Emma really going around sleeping with as many boys as possible? Was she doing this for attention? Or was she purposely trying to hurt the girls that the guys were dating? Were there any signs that Emma was suicidal? Could someone have prevented her suicide somehow? The ending to this was satisfactory, although we didn’t find out 100% what punishment the girls received for their part in driving Emma to suicide. I did enjoy this book though, and I would definitely read another book by this author. Overall; an interesting story about bullying. 8 out of 10.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Honestly, I loved tease. I loved the end and i swear i could have cried. My feeling throughout the book about Sara changed a lot, but by the end i think that Sara was a girl with one friend who more like her boss, and a boyfriend which she needs for her social life. The story is really touching and i think it was an amazing book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book. I love a book that deals with current and real problems in this world. This will open your eyes to bulling. Great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I feel bad for Sara. She was a confused insecure kid caught up in a very nasty situation. I think she and Emma were more alike than different.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In all honesty, I didn't like Tease. It was a well-written novel, but I didn't really like the message in the book & I certainly don't like that the author ended up letting the bullies off the hook in the end. And the thing about bullies is that they are never sorry for bullying someone until that someone ends up killing themself. And I think that is exactly what happened here. Sara wasn't sorry when Emma was alive. She became sorry when she was in the middle of a lawsuit. That being said, she didn't deserve to be left to carry on with her life without proper repercussions or victimized in any way in the novel. That's just my two cents right there.
KDH_Reviews More than 1 year ago
After I finished reading Tease and before writing this review, I read some reviews on Goodreads. I noticed some people say that the reason they didn't enjoy this book was because of Sara being such an unlikeable character. Well... duh! She's selfish and cruel and, frankly, thoughtless. She wasn't supposed to be the likeable best friend character. She was supposed to be the realistic mean girl. And while part of Sara knows that what she's doing to Emma is wrong, it's the part that bullies Emma that she feeds. After all, it's much more enjoyable to give into the things that make us feel better about ourselves than to admit what we're doing is wrong. So, yes. Sara is completely unlikeable, but I think that should be expected. However... SPOILER I think Sara was supposed to viewed as repentant at the of the book, but I didn't really buy it. Her remorse felt very surface and unrealistic. Yes, I believe that she was more apologetic about what happened and the role she played in Emma's death than anyone else, but I have a hard time believing she was truly sorry. There was no moment in the book where she really comes to an understanding about the role she played. It was more of a spontaneous "Oops! I did a bad thing!" than a legitimate realization that she had a hand in causing someone to take their own life. END SPOILER Overall, I think Tease was a good book (even if the ending didn't work for me). I think it provides a realistic and gritty look at how out of hand bullying can become. While it's not a nice and easy read, it was worth it. You can read all of my reviews on my blog, KDH Reviews.
Dazzlamb More than 1 year ago
TEASE was a book I hadn't originally planned to read. Then a copy showed up on my doorstep and I decided to give it a try. I wasn't blown away by the story, but was more often engaged than I thought I'd be. TEASE tells the story of Sara who is accused of bullying fellow student Emma. A girl who is dead now. Chapters about Sara's current situation and the months before Emma's suicide alternate. They are about ten pages each which makes it easy to read short chapters in between your daily activities. The 'now' chapters consist mainly of lawyer and therapist visits. Sara is worrying about the upcoming trial and is trying to sort out her feelings about what happened with Emma and figure out her role in all of it. I wasn't always happy with her and her learning curve was kind of slow. It was almost immediately that I knew I wouldn't be able to get inside her head, wouldn't get to close too her. But Sara's new relationship to a boy from summer school was why I wanted to keep on reading, making the 'now' chapters those to look forward to. Bullying, the actual important and central part of the story was the aspect I was least interested in. Sara, her best friend Brielle and other friends were really mean to Emma. Their schemes were repetitive and circling around the same thoughts of hatred and resentment. When I pick up a new YA contemporary novel I want to read a story that's basically positive, someone looking for love, building new friendships, rekindling old friendships. I guess I just wasn't in the mood for such a negative and problematic story like Sara's. Her family life isn't looking too harmonious either and all her friendships are practically nonexistent. I know that the story of a girl who kills herself because she's been bullied is tragic and is mostly made up of dark thoughts. This kind of story is important to prevent bullying and alert people who see it happening and have decided to ignore the symptoms until now. But how about a little more perspective and hope for the future? Also, I can imagine that additional chapters from Emma's perspective could've worked for TEASE, too. They could've given us a more complete picture of the whole story. 3/5 *** TEASE - A dark and tragic teenage drama with an important message. Amanda Maciel's debut novel is a read for everyone who is into the more problematic and tough kinds of stories. If you follow Sara's case you'll learn what it means to be on the bully side and to be confronted with the legal effects of your actions. The story strongly concentrates on all the incidents that lead to the suicide of one girl. Sara and Emma's case is based on a true story, making it all the sadder and most unfortunate. It should be read as a cautionary tale.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of those books that will enter your heart and never leave. It takes you to a point of view that you never see, the bully. Sara and her friends bully the new girl Emma for being a slut up until Emma kills herself, and then they all face criminal charges after her death. Amanda Maciel has some serious guts to write from the point of view of the bully. It takes some incredible writing for you to actually see the other side of things, when typically all we feel for bullies is hatred. That's not to say you will love the main character Sara all the time, actually most of the time I hated her. I don't think I can say I've ever hated a main character in the story, but Sara and her friends are downright cruel to Emma. What makes this book so amazing is that you might hate the main character, yet love the book. This story broke my heart in so many ways, first and foremost is that it was inspired by a true story. High school is a difficult time for everyone and I don't think most people think about the detrimental effects that bullying can have on a person. But I do know that we don't think about why someone is being bullied, or what the bully is going through themselves. Tease puts you in the shoes that most of us never thought we'd walk in.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well that is an hour of my time I will never get back. I was at my local Barnes and Noble when I passed this book. I am so glad I read it in the store and did not buy it. This book jumps back a forth between the past and the present in a way the makes it very hard to follow. I really did not feel much sympathy for Emma or Sara both were flat characters. At one point i felt worse for Sara then Emma considering Sara's boyfriend cheated on her with Emma. All the other characters felt like theh were thrown in at the last minute to flesh out the story. The author had the opportunity to explore Sara's relationship with her dad but declined to do so in a way I found very confusing DO NOT READ
kirstyviz More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately bullying exists in all areas of society, both children and adults suffer and bullies can leave a lasting impact on the lives of everyone they touch. Interestingly, Amanda Maciel has chosen to tell Tease from the point of view of the bully, forcing the reader to question who the term of 'victim' applies to, thus I have found my rating and review of Tease very difficult. It is a complicated and emotive story in which I felt manipulated by the author to feel sympathy for the protagonist, who has committed an crime I would normally rush to condemn.  Initially I found Sara selfish, abrasive and defensive, refusing to admit any fault in  Emma's demise and ultimate death.  Yet as the story progresses Sara redeems herself and though she is still a deeply flawed character, I found her like-able. Amanda Maciel does not withhold anything from her reader, in terms of the story and the language used. However, I never felt that this was purely for shock value, instead these often uncomfortable elements make Tease more believable, forcing us to think about the society we live in.  Yes, Tease is a difficult novel to read in terms of its openness and honesty, but it reminds us that everyone is culpable despite the way 'facts' can be presented.  I admire Amanda Maciel's bravery for approaching this topic in such an radical way and would like to read more of her work. I was given Tease as a complimentary review copy, but this has had no influence on my opinion.
Take_Me_AwayPH More than 1 year ago
  Whenever there's a case of bullying, everyone looks to the victim. Are they ok? Will they be permanently affected from this? But no one ever looks to the actual bully. In this new thought provoking novel by Amanda Maciel, she makes that leap into the mind of the bully for us all to see.       Before Emma, Sara was just a normal high school girl who was worried about one of the most important things to her. Her boyfriend. But then rumors start going around that Emma is going after everyone's boyfriend. Including Sara's and her best friend Brielle's. But Sara and Brielle are already popular, so basically anything they say, everyone will automatically go along with it. So when they start calling her a slut, it's not long before mostly everyone else in school is too.       I really applaud Maciel for diving into the mind of the actual "villain." I have never read anything like this and it made me think of a lot of different things. Like am I supposed to feel bad about her getting everything that she deserved? Or am I supposed to feel sorry about her getting her boyfriend stolen? Or am I supposed to want her to not getting in trouble for just getting revenge for someone who wronged her as well? But then I realized that these things just can't be answered. Because although it was unfortunate that these events transpired over a boy, Sara and Brielle took things too far. They knew that Emma wasn't completely stable as it was and for them to continue doing these terrible "pranks," made them seem vicious. That's just how good her writing was. It was full of emotion and made me think of so much. It was really hard to tell this was a debut.       Being inside Sara's head made me feel for her though. Although she seemed like a terrible person by her actions, she was really just a confused, self-conscious teenager. She didn't know where she fit in and she clung to the only people that made her feel as if she did... Dylan and Brielle. But then even things with Dylan goes sour and she doesn't know what to do. All she wants is to get him back. But I think that's what made me upset with her. She only thought of herself. How she would look if she just let Emma take him. How she would look if Brielle thought she wasn't being mean enough. It was just all so selfish.      Bullying is such a serious topic and I haven't read a more emotional story about it. Clearly so many people are hurt by it so I'm surprised that things like this still happen. I would really like for this to be used in schools to see that being a bully doesn't prove that you're cool. it just proves that instead of being a leader and being your own person, you're nothing more than a follower. Stand up for yourself, but being hateful and mean don't need to be part of the equation.