- Hardcover: 272 Pages
- Publisher: Ecco (July 2, 2013)
- ISBN-10: 0062280546
- Source: Publisher
Celeste Price is a middle-school teacher in Tampa, FL. She chose this career so she could have what she desired most right at her fingertips: young boys in their early teens. Starting in her own teen years, Celeste realized that she had a sexual desire that was more intense than most others. She married a police officer who came from money so she could afford to keep her body looking young by using expensive beauty products and undergoing a number of skin treatments. She had no attraction to her husband; their sex life was nearly nonexistent. His shift at work prevented them from spending much time together. When he was home, she drugged him so he would fall asleep, preventing any sort of intimate contact.
As the school year begins, Celeste begins hunting for her prey. She needs someone that is sort of a loner, too modest to share their indiscretions with anyone, one who has parents that won’t pick up on what is transpiring. This year, her victim is 14 year-old Jack Patrick, an attractive and modest student in her English class. It takes some time for her to transform their relationship into more than it is, more than it should be. When it begins, however, the intensity of their tryst is off the charts. Don’t let Celeste force you to believe she is in this for a romantic relationship for that is far from her intent. She is in it for the sex, manipulating those around her in a terrifyingly psychopathic manner. She takes numerous risks, always with an excuse planned in her mind should they ever get caught. Yet what she didn’t take into consideration is how Jack felt about her and what he would do to protect their relationship.
Tampa is by far one of the hardest books I have ever reviewed. The whole premise of this book is vile to me, a mother of a teen boy. The author does not hold back with the explicitness of Jack and Celeste’s sexual exploits. Doing so would diminish Celeste’s obvious sickness. One might ask why I opted to continue to read this book after learning the presence. Frankly, because the writing is brilliant. Nutting builds such an elaborate and atypical female protagonist. In most cases, when we read of such sexual behavior the main character is a male. Not necessarily in the same circumstance as this novel, but when we do read about it, we don’t attribute any feelings of disgust or shock to that character. What Nutting has done is put a female protagonist in this role, giving readers a unique female perspective on sexual addiction.
It is impossible to review this title without talking about the book’s cover as well. It is dark and simple, covered in a black velvet that at first feels lush, making you want to touch and stroke the book. As you read, however, that soft fabric begins to feel quite vile and disgusting. Much like Celeste’s character (a woman that is incredibly beautiful on the surface, a woman any man would desire), the reader’s opinion quickly shifts as more is revealed. It is certainly the most interesting (and successful!) bit of book marketing I have ever experienced.
This is not a book that I can recommend to just anyone. It does require a strong stomach and an ability to look beyond the story on the surface to get through to the message the author is trying to relay. I tend to think I have a pretty strong stomach. I’m a fan of horror movies and books and in most cases, I can stomach anything. This novel, however, was my true nemesis, one of the biggest challenges I have ever accomplished. It took me several breaks, putting the book completely out of my line of sight for several days, before I was able to pick it up again. Therefore, this (I hesitate to say positive) review comes with a big bright warning label with flashing lights: While this is a book that everyone will be talking about, if you don’t think you can stomach it, do not attempt it. This is a book that lingers with you, you will be unable to unsee (or unread) what transpires within its pages. However, if you are able to separate the incredibly explicit actions in this book from the true intent of this story, I promise you will see through the dark and the vile and will appreciate this novel for its brilliance.