Thursday, January 2, 2014

Book Review: Tampa

Title Tampa

Author Alissa Nutting

Release Date July 2, 2013

Celeste Price is an eighth-grade English teacher in suburban Tampa. She is attractive. She drives a red Corvette. Her husband, Ford, is rich, square-jawed and devoted to her. But Celeste has a secret. She has a singular sexual obsession - fourteen-year-old boys. It is a craving she pursues with sociopathic meticulousness and forethought.

Within weeks of her first term at a new school, Celeste has lured the charmingly modest Jack Patrick into her web - car rides after dark, rendezvous at Jack's house while his single father works the late shift, and body-slamming encounters in Celeste's empty classroom between periods. It is bliss.

Celeste must constantly confront the forces threatening their affair - the perpetual risk of exposure, Jack's father's own attraction to her, and the ticking clock as Jack leaves innocent boyhood behind. But the insatiable Celeste is remorseless. She deceives everyone, is close to no one and cares little for anything but her pleasure.

With crackling, stampeding, rampantly sexualized prose, Tampa is a grand, satirical, serio-comic examination of desire and a scorching literary debut.

Goodness. This is definitely a book that everyone's going to have an opinion about. Never mind whether or not they've actually read the book, they've got something to say!

Alright, so this book was a little difficult to read. Well, not so much difficult as uncomfortable. Yes, that's it. I was uncomfortable, but who wouldn't be? (That's totally a redundant question, by the way.) I knew the book was pushing boundaries and going for that shock value (let's be honest, right?). I didn't quite expect something as graphic as what I got, but I should have known better. I felt torn between whether or not the vulgarity of the book was necessary (it's generally harder to imagine a woman in such a position) or just purely shock. In the end, I sided with necessary. I think Celeste needed to be painted as she was to really convey that she was as much of a sexual predator/monster as a man could be. That being said, there's a very fine line between necessary and shock value here.

It was well written. It was disturbing, especially in the "I probably shouldn't like this. Maybe I should. I don't know! There's way too much grey area here... but I do like it!" kind of way. And just to clarify, this is a good book. I don't condone Celeste's behavior, whether male or female, so it makes it somewhat strange to enjoy about something I am so against. Weird, I tell you! By the end of the book, I was slightly disappointed. I'm not sure exactly how I wanted it to end, but it certainly wasn't like it did. I suppose, though, that the ending was, unfortunately, pretty realistic.

While the review was hard for me to write... because really, I don't know how to express how I feel after reading something like this, it was an easy book to rate. I enjoyed reading it and would certainly recommend it. That recommendation, though, would come with a warning that it is pretty vulgar and cringe-inducing.


5 out of 5 stars

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