I’m not usually a fan of those books that look at modern teenage life. It all seems so sordid and a bit pathetic from my thirty-something perspective (although I’m sure that will change in a decade or so when my son is a teenager). I always have trouble believing that teenagers are so awful these days. Then again, I grew up in the nineties (which in my opinion was the last decade of the age of innocence as far as being a kid), so I think I view those years through a nice soft lens that makes everything look good.
That being said, Tease drew me in with the amazing cover. All shiny silver foil with a hot pink lipstick title scrawled across the front. I couldn’t resist picking it up (being a sucker for shiny things). Now here’s why I actually checked it out of the library and read it: perspective. It’s all about the perspective. When I saw that the story was from the bully’s perspective, I just had to read it.
I’m always looking for something different, and after seeing so many books from the perspective of the bullied, I was excited to read the other side of the story. The usual formula for such books is to tell the story of terrible persecution from the victim’s perspective. Don’t get me wrong. Those stories need to be told, but I also think the other side of the story is also important. Tease changes things up a bit by telling the story from the perspective of one of the bullies. And that’s something you don’t see often (and you know how I’m a sucker for the unique).
I really loved how the story covered the aftermath of the bullying as well as what led up to the criminal charges against Sara and her friends. Sara’s evolution as a person is really what drives the story and makes it compelling. If we had only one period of time or the other, the story would have lacked depth and been entirely too simple (and actually kinda boring).
I’ll admit, though, that Sara isn’t the true bully in this story, so it’s not quite as raw as it could be. Sure, she participates in the nastiness, but she’s almost a victim herself. Her (supposed) BFF is the one who instigates pretty much every awful prank, and Sara goes along with it because she petrified of being alone. She thinks that without her nasty friend she has no social standing (and therefore no boyfriend). She’s right, but that turns out not to be a bad thing. There are always things going on in people’s lives that we won’t know about. There’s a reason bullies are bullies. Of course, that doesn’t excuse their behavior, but it’s easy to forget that bullies are people as well and may be victims in their own right.
Tease is a really good example of a book that challenges conventional beliefs in a way that is fair and compassionate to both sides of the issue. It also addresses the consequences of bullying and questions the wisdom of criminally prosecuting teens for that kind of behavior. It’s such a complex issue, and there are no clear answers.
And now I have no idea how to end this review, so I’ll stop here before this becomes an essay. You’re welcome.