Tampa by Alyssa Nutting

Well, it’s official.  I’ve just finished reading the second most disturbing book of my life.  I don’t even really know what to say about it.  It’s the kind of book that really makes you question what goes on in the mind of the author, not that I suspect Nutting of harboring these kind of thoughts but it is still amazing what the human brain can cook up.

In all honesty, while reading this book I always maintained a level of disbelief that I don’t usually have while reading.  First off, Corvette’s don’t have back seats.  It’s a little flaw but one that threw me again and again.  Second, Celeste is just such a psychopath.  That is not a flaw.  I think that having a completely unlikeable protagonist was the only way to pull this story off.

The story is of Celeste’s first year teaching 8th grade English.  Celeste is beautiful and smart and from the outside her life is perfect.  She’s married to a good looking cop from a rich family and drives a Corvette convertible.  She’s a great actress, able to flatter her way into anyone’s good graces.  It’s all a very useful cover, though.  Celeste has a thing for teenage boys.  Not just teenage boys but teenage boys who are not yet filling out as men.  She is looking forward to a year of close contact, planning out how she will start a relationship with one of her students.

It doesn’t take long for her to find one who meets her specifications and she embarks on an intense, mostly sexual relationship with Jack.  Soon imperfections in her fantasy world start to pop up, though, and things begin to spin out of control.

This was not an easy read.  It uncomfortable and, well, it should be.  It was a fascinating character study, however, and in the end I had a hard time putting it down.  I had to read it because I heard raves upon raves upon raves about it online and I don’t regret the decision one bit.  One of the most amazing things for me what how Nutting handled her sexual content.  It was straight forward and matter of fact, no pornographic or erotic euphemisms.  Definitely worth the read if you can stomach it.