Emma Putman moves to a new school, and is labelled a slut as she associates mainly with boys. Girls seem to hate her for it, guys seem to dislike her for sleeping around with guys who aren’t them. Sara and her friends give her a hard time and, eventually, she kills herself.
Tease follows the tale of slut-shaming and bullying from a perspective rarely told: the bully, from start through to finish and then some. From the off it’s divisive – some are repulsed by Sara’s lack of remorse and self-centred attitude, others find it something refreshing. Personally, I just found it disengaging. Of course you’re not going to like the bully, but despite dealing with emotionally charged material, it was difficult to actually feel remotely connected to any of it.
There are some glimmers of naivety in Sara, who is called a tease for being with her ‘hot boyfriend’ for two months without having sex. In time, she eventually loses her virginity more through social pressure than desire. With the high-tension and often childish way in which cliqués and teenagers in general can operate when it comes to sex and relationships, it’s unsurprising that things can get nasty, and that even the bullies can succumb to some negativity.
This is, I guess, a realistic take on bullying and the slut-shaming that’s rife in society, especially in high school. Slut, bitch and skank are thrown around like there’s no tomorrow. It doesn’t make it easier to read, nor does it make this book – though different and painting a different viewpoint – overly enjoyable, personally at least.
But, as I said, this is one of the most divisive books I’ve come across, from seeing what others think too. It’ll probably be your literary marmite.
Pub: 1st May 2014 | Hachette Children’s Books