by Amanda Maciel
To be published by Balzer + Bray
on April 29, 2014
Source: e-ARC for review from Edelweiss.
Synopsis from Goodreads: 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.
My mini-take: Tease isn't an easy book to read for a number of reasons. It's a book about girl-on-girl bullying told from a bully's point of view. Sara, that bully, is in complete denial that she did anything wrong for the majority of the book. This is something that may frustrate and annoy some readers, but also presents a fascinating psychological study. The story is told in a forward-backward way, in which Sara alternates between remembering past events and dealing with her current legal problems. This format gave me hope that Sara would eventually come to accept the part she played in the tragedy, rather than continuing to rationalize and make excuses for what she did. Tease was hard to read at times, but I liked the fact that this story lets the reader watch Sara dig herself deeper and deeper into a dark pit of denial and wonder if she will ever be able to look up and see a glimmer of light.
Overall: a realistic story about taking responsibility for one's actions. Recommended for fans of Speechless by Hannah Harrington or Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers.
ETA: I apologize that for a day this post listed the author's last name as "Madel," which is what the name on that cover above looked like to me until I squinted harder. I think I need glasses. I'm sorry, Amanda Maciel, for misspelling your name!
by Brandy Colbert
Published by Penguin
on April 10, 2014
Synopsis from Goodreads: Theo is better now. She's eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor. Donovan isn't talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn't do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she's been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.My (mini) take: Theo is a talented dancer poised to take her ballet career to the next level. All that falls apart as her best friend -- a boy who vanished four years before -- suddenly reappears. Pointe has a lot of seemingly disparate elements -- Theo's ballet, her life as one of the few African-American kids in her suburban Chicago high school, her ongoing struggles with an eating disorder, her friend's disappearance, her social use of drugs for stress relief, her tenuous relationship with a new guy -- but all of them weave together seamlessly.
Theo herself was a bit of a cipher. The story is told in the first person, and Theo does not reveal much about her innermost thoughts. I wasn't even sure that she loved ballet, just that she was good at it and drawn the discipline of it. Theo is a character who uses fierce self-control to push down her emotions (and hunger) and that control rarely wavers. But that kind of narrator can be tough, because the reader has to work much harder to form a connection to her. While I had a tremendous amount of compassion for Theo and everything she was going through, I often wished for more insight into what she was thinking or feeling. At times, I wished Pointe had incorporated some sort of device -- like a therapist Theo could talk to -- to help me figure out what was going on inside her head -- and other times I admired the way the book just left me to wonder. But all in all, Pointe is an impressive debut!
If you enjoy YA contemporary that's on the more serious/issue based side, definitely give these two a try!