Tampa (Alissa Nutting)

Celeste Price is an eighth-grade English teacher in suburban Tampa. She’s undeniably attractive. She drives a red Corvette with tinted windows. Her husband, Ford, is rich, square-jawed, and devoted to her.

But Celeste’s devotion lies elsewhere. She has a singular sexual obsession—fourteen-year-old boys. Celeste pursues her craving with sociopathic meticulousness and forethought; her sole purpose in becoming a teacher is to fulfill her passion and provide her access to her compulsion. As the novel opens, fall semester at Jefferson Jr. High is beginning.
In mere weeks, Celeste has chosen and lured the lusciously naive Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his teacher, and, most important, willing to accept Celeste’s terms for a secret relationship—car rides after school; rendezvous at Jack’s house while his single father works late; body-slamming encounters in Celeste’s empty classroom between periods.

Ever mindful of the danger—the perpetual risk of exposure, Jack’s father’s own attraction to her, and the ticking clock as Jack leaves innocent boyhood behind—the hyperbolically insatiable Celeste bypasses each hurdle with swift thinking and shameless determination, even when the solutions involve greater misdeeds than the affair itself. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress driven by pure motivation. She deceives everyone, and cares nothing for anyone or anything but her own pleasure.

I don’t know how to explain it and I don’t know if this makes me wrong, but I very much enjoyed this book. Too much. Since finishing I have read a lot of judgmental reviews on this book but I feel like it’s actually a very accomplished book. The author herself wants you to get inside the mind of a sexual predator and guess what? SUCCESS. You’re in her head and it’s uncomfortable and your skin is crawling and your face is cringing but that is what made it such a well-executed book for me. If you are not sitting there going “omg, am I enjoying this book?” then you aren’t reading it right.

I felt like Celeste had the intensity of a serial killer when it came to her “preferences”. The desperation she had in doing whatever it took to satify her needs was so disturbing but I would be lying if I didn’t sit here and tell you that Celeste was one of the most warped characters in books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. And I enjoyed being in her head, very much so.

I feel like this book could open up a lot of discussions regarding women “always” being victims. It’s a book that forces you to look at the stereotypes based on looks alone or even gender. Please be noted: the graphics in this book are brutal. You will feel uncomfortable and you will cringe. I wouldn’t classify this as “erotica” just because of the subject matter. I would maybe go with explicit, shocking, terms along that line.

The book stays in Celeste’s POV for which I am glad. I couldn’t have been able to handle being in the head of the victims. I like how everything was played out with Celeste’s POV only. Alissa wrote this book in such a way that you don’t even think of the boys being “abused”. But, in reality it is. What is happening to these kids is disheartening and sickening. But since we are getting it from her POV we don’t see it as much. We see it as consensual. Some might even see it as love.

So a round of applause to Alissa Nutting for creating one of the most complex and memorable characters I have read in a long time. I feel like she took a story that most people would be afraid to write and brought great awareness in this world. I think as long as readers are able to keep an open mind, they will find a book with great writing.


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