Author: Amanda Maciel
Publisher: Balzer + Bray, 336 Pages (April 29th, 2014)
Add to: Goodreads
Order here: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, The Book Depository, Amazon UK
Synopsis: From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide.
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. In 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 own 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.
With its powerful narrative, unconventional point of view, and strong anti-bullying theme, this coming-of-age story offers smart, insightful, and nuanced views on high school society, toxic friendships, and family relationships.
Supports the Common Core State Standards.
Author Interview -
Hi Amanda! Thanks for chatting with us today about your debut novel, Tease for Harper's Summer Story Crush 2014 Tour! I was excited to have been asked to take part in this tour and to have been selected to host you and your title Tease!
Thank you, I’m so happy to be here!!
I have a few questions so how about we jump right in?
First off, since Tease is your debut novel can you tell us when you first got the idea, and a bit about the research that was involved in writing such a sad yet controversial subject?
Unfortunately, the idea for Tease came from real-life events— a few years ago, a similar case of suicide and bullying unfolded in the town where I went to college. It was long after I lived there, but a close friend was working at the high school where everything happened, and it just made all these sensational “mean girls” stories you see on TV feel really personal, and very real. As national attention and anger about that case heated up, I started to worry about the girls who weren’t the victims—I didn’t know them, but I knew they were just kids themselves. And I remember how complicated things get in high school, and how hard it is to explain to adults what you were thinking or doing when all they see is a terrible result.
What was the most shocking information you found during your research? Also would you please share some links and info for those who are looking for help with bullying?
I actually tried not to research very much. I felt very strongly that while this story was inspired by real events, it shouldn’t be a fictionalization or based on any particular case—because the whole point of Tease is that it is so, so, so hard to know the full, real story about anything. In the back of the book there are some resources for finding help with bullying. But when I was writing I just wanted to show how normal this kind of interaction can seem when you’re in the midst of it. There is so much more awareness of bullying now, but we’ve also made it this huge, almost obvious thing—like you could look into a classroom and spot the bully, or that bullying is a quantifiable action, not an unfixed system that changes daily. I wanted to talk about how intensely complicated it is, how sometimes kids think they’re just joking around, or just maintaining their daily status quo by knocking someone else down. Kind of like texting while driving, bullying can be something you don’t realize the dangers of—something you don’t even take seriously until things are suddenly out of control.
What was the easiest and the hardest part in writing Tease?
Mostly I worried that people would think that I’d written a true accounting of a real story, like the one the book was inspired by, and that I would somehow further damage the people who really went through all of that—both the victim’s family and her accused classmates. I think some readers do interpret the story as true, to some extent, and that worries me. But strangely, the easiest parts to write were the scenes where Sara and her best friend, Brielle, are feeling angry at Emma and lashing out at her. Because really, those scenes are about Sara’s relationship with Brielle, and that friendship felt very real to me. The power dynamics between them and the way Sara wanted to feel connected to her best friend but wasn’t sure how—I’ve definitely been there.
If you could sit down and have a conversation with Emma and Sara what would you like to say to each of them?
Oh, man, I don’t know! I think I would probably just hug them both and ask them to talk to me. When I was in high school, I remember people telling me it wasn’t my whole life, that things were going to change in a few years and none of the drama would feel so terrible—but it’s just so hard to believe that when you’re in the thick of it, you know? And even while people tell you to not take it so seriously, they’re also asking you to make all these huge life decisions, like where to go to college and what to do with the whole rest of your life. It’s a terrifying few years, and the stuff that happens with your friends feels HUGE, even if it’s not. So I think I’d be tempted to give Sara and Emma a whole “It gets better!” speech, but hopefully I’d do the opposite—I hope I would listen to them, take them seriously, and just let them feel heard for a minute. We ask teenagers to start acting like adults, but often we haven’t yet started listening to them, or believing them, and that’s a horrible disconnect.
What do you hope readers take away from the story?
I really hope they feel some sympathy for Sara and Brielle—or at least that, the next time something happens that seems very black and white, they consider the possibility of some shades of gray. Taking a step back and trying to really understand a situation is not the same as condoning it. Recognizing that everyone involved in a story, even a tragic one, is a person—not a monster, not a victim, but a real person with real feelings—is, to me, of the utmost importance if we’re going to function at all as a society.
Without giving too much away, could you share with us a line or two that’s a favorite from Tease?
Sara and Emma:
She held up her hands slightly, either like she was surrendering or finally trying to protect herself—I don’t know which. Or maybe I do. I guess it was surrender.
Sara and Brielle:
“Just because I’m not a slut like Emma doesn’t make me a tease,” I protest, finally.
“Well, I mean, he’s your boyfriend …,” Brielle says. “So it kinda does.”
And lastly, can you tell us anything about what you're currently working on and when it might be released?
Sure! I have another YA contemporary novel in the works, due next summer from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. The title isn’t quite final and we’re still working on the revision, but I can tell you that it’s about a girl and a boy who are each struggling with a version of survivor guilt after tragedies invade their lives but leave them mostly unharmed. The basic idea is: how do you heal when your scars are invisible, and when everyone else is in so much more pain than you?
Amanda, thanks again for answering my questions and hanging out with me today. Please feel free to stop by anytime and a HUGE congrats to you on the recent release of Tease!!
Thank you so much for having me!!
Check out all the dates and exciting info for the: Story Crush Summer 2014 Blog Tour AND Book Tour on epicreads.com and StoryCrush.com from HarperTeen!!!
About the Author:
Amanda Maciel has worked in book publishing since graduating from Mount Holyoke College and is currently a senior editor at Scholastic. She spends her free time writing, running, or riding the subway with her young son. She lives with him, her husband, and their cat, Ruby, in Brooklyn, New York. Tease is her first novel.
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