Google+ YA Romantics: Mini-Reviews: Tease by Amanda Maciel and Pointe by Brandy Colbert

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Tease by Amanda Maciel and Pointe by Brandy Colbert

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Tease
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!

Pointe
by Brandy Colbert
Published by Penguin
on April 10, 2014

Source: bought

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!

24 comments:

  1. Great mini-reviews, Jen. I don't think I can handle Tease; even though a perspective from a bully is somewhat a novelty. I'm curious whether or not she finds the realization in the end that she's accountable for her actions.

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    1. Some readers have had an issue with her, but I was happy that she was kind of misguided at first!

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  2. What an interesting take on bullying in Tease, from the bully's POV and such. That intrigues me though I think I'd really have to be in the mood to take that one on. And Pointe is new to me. Not sure it is for me but it does have some appeal. :)

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  3. Wow! both books sounds intense. I hope I can read Pointe someday, I´m not really into Tease.
    Great reviews! and thanks for the recommendations!

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  4. Tease sounds good. It's not often that we get that perspective and that she's adamant that she didn't do anything wrong.

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    1. I agree and think this book would spark some interesting discussions as I think people will react in varying ways!

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  5. These sound good! I like your mini reviews!

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  6. I've been on the fence about Tease. So many people have said they didn't like it, but part of me still thinks it looks worth the read. I really loved Speechless and Some Girls Are so I'm now hopeful about it.

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    1. I think in Speechless and in Some Girls, the main characters have to own up to some hard truths. And I liked that. Not to say that it wasn't frustrating to watch this character keep rationalizing everything...

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  7. Love your banner for the feature-so cute :) Now I can kind of see why people would hate Tease if the story is written in the POV like that. Definitely unique. I'm so excited for Pointe!! Glad you liked them for the most part!

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  8. Great mini reviews. I don't think the first one is for me, but the second one sounds great as I love ballet books. Haven't heard of it. Thanks for sharing.

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  9. These are both on my wish list (gah, I swear my wish-list is going to drown me one day. >.< I need more time to read!) and I looove the sound of Pointe. The cover is quite gorgeous and eerie too.

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  10. Both sounds amazing. I have Tease on my shelf. Hopefully I can get to it soon.

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  11. I am def an issue contemporary reader and Tease is on my list to read soon

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  12. Hmm. Tease may turn into a DNF for me after reading your review. I'll give it a try though. Pointe sounds interesting. That's quite a mix of elements to have a kidnapping survivor and a ballet dancer.

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  13. Thanks for the mini-review! Pointe actually sounds kind of awesome; I think I'll enjoy it when i get to it.

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  14. Ohh, both sound so good! Especially Pointe! Some of those books tackle too many elements and it just doesn't fit, so it's good that it's done well in Pointe. Definitely going to check both out!

    Great reviews!

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  15. I really liked Tease, but I would have liked to have had a couple of chapters fromEmma's point of view to balance the story.
    Just got pointe and am looking forward to it!

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  16. When I saw that you wroth mini-reviews, my reaction was this: "Oh, no! She hated them. They are horrible." But I am so happy that it's not the case. Tease is next on my ARC reading list and I was looking forward to read Pointe since the first time I saw it on GR.
    Great reviews, Jen.

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  17. I've read Tease too and I must agree that it's not an easy read. It's definitely different and definitely hard to explain my feelings on it. Never heard anything about Pointe though

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  18. Both of these books sound good and complex! Tease sounds like something I'd love, and while I'm drawn to books about ballet (I danced ballet and tap and jazz for 12 years), some of the issues within Pointe sound a bit too heavy for me. But I might just have to give it a chance. Great reviews, Jen!

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