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Review: Tampa

April 15, 2014


Ever since her first sexual encounter at age fourteen, Celeste Price has only been attracted to young adolescent boys.  Well, not just attracted to – she is obsessed with them.   She has a strong libido and has earned a degree in education just so she can be near young males on a regular basis.  She gets a job as a middle school teacher and begins her hunt for a young man to fulfill her need.

My time as a student teacher had been a wake-up call for how complicated my needs actually were.  Initially I’d hoped that just being around them would be enough — that like coral among anemones, I could glean all needed vitality through their swirling hoards moving past my body in the hallways.  Within a week, I knew this to be a lie.

Tampa by Alissa Nutting feels like a story that was snatched from the headlines and, as a matter of fact, it was based on the Debra Lafave case.  I’d heard good things about the book in spite of its difficult subject matter so I decided to give it a try.  Before I get any further, I must say, this book is very graphic.  Celeste is a predator with a capital p and the story is told from her point of view so readers know her thoughts and actions and Nutting doesn’t water any of it down.  I thought the sex scenes were far more graphic than they needed to be and they left me feeling yucky.  I have a feeling that was Nutting’s intention but I feel like she could have been more subtle and still gotten her point across.

I also found much of the book to be unbelievable.  Celeste was so focused on her hunt for prey that she spent very little time on her career and turned classroom discussions towards sex every chance she got.  I just can’t believe none of her students told their parents.  I also had trouble believing a principal would use a first year teacher like Celeste as a mentor to an older, more experienced teacher.  I felt the storyline was rather convoluted, too, but don’t want to give too much of the plot away.

Tampa felt like erotica to me and the fact that it involved an adult and a minor made it pretty disturbing.   In the end, this book just wasn’t for me.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
27 Comments leave one →
  1. sandynawrot permalink
    April 15, 2014 5:56 am

    Well, I’ve heard good things about the shocking nature of the book, but we have freaking lived this story (more than once) down here, so I really don’t need to subject myself to it again. And you are right, at least one kid would wave the red flag if this were the teacher behavior. Even at that age, some of them still do have a conscience.

  2. April 15, 2014 7:55 am

    Yeah, that sounds really skeevy!

  3. April 15, 2014 8:06 am

    It would make me also uncomfortable.

  4. April 15, 2014 8:33 am

    What a disturbing book. I’m not sure I could have read it. Since I work in a middle school, i would have had a difficult time with it I am sure. Definitely not something that should be glorified even though, sadly, it happens.

  5. April 15, 2014 8:48 am

    I would rather not hear about such things!

  6. April 15, 2014 9:10 am

    I read it last year, and while I agreed with much of what you say I also thought it was well done in the teacher’s unending pursuit of the young boys. Disturbing yes, and some scenarios far fetched but interesting.

  7. April 15, 2014 9:16 am

    Before I moved up where we are now, we lived near Tampa, FL and believe me, this happened not just the once (case the book is based on); it happened probably 4-5 times in the 5 years I lived there. All were women teachers after young boys. I just could not stomach this story, fiction or not. Having the adult be a female does not make it less upsetting to me. I agree with your review.

  8. April 15, 2014 10:39 am

    Sounds like a book I would want to avoid.

  9. April 15, 2014 11:22 am

    This book wasn’t for me either. I didn’t finish it, because I just thought it was ridiculously overly graphic for not reason, except to shock. I can definitely agree with you that it reads more like an erotica novel than anything else. Such a disappointment!

  10. April 15, 2014 11:41 am

    I felt like this would have been a disturbing book, even if it was about two consenting adults, it was just the way Nutting wrote it.

  11. April 15, 2014 1:03 pm

    I’m sure it’s not for me, either.

  12. April 15, 2014 2:25 pm

    Ick. I really liked Lolita, even despite my disgust and strong dislike for Humbret Humbret, and so maybe would be a little more open to read a book like this than some. But after reading your thoughts on it, I don’t think even I would be able to stomach it.

  13. April 15, 2014 2:50 pm

    As the mother of two adult sons, I don’t think this book is for me either.

  14. April 15, 2014 3:05 pm

    Sounds like a dark one! eek.

  15. April 15, 2014 4:57 pm

    I got a major case of the creeps from that first paragraph! Ick! I had a friend once, who had a friend that was like this. She was like 50 years old and hitting on teen aged boys. It was really something to behold.

  16. April 15, 2014 5:05 pm

    Thank you for the review (I will skip the title!).

  17. April 15, 2014 7:51 pm

    I started listening to this audiobook and put it aside for now. It is a little out of my comfort zone as well, and I also got the erotica vibe. I’m impressed you stuck with it!

  18. April 15, 2014 8:37 pm

    Kathy, thanks for sharing your honest thoughts. It doesn’t sound like a book I’d want to read.

  19. Patty permalink
    April 15, 2014 9:26 pm

    Wow…the mentoring thing…that just does not happen…at all…I know I can’t go near this one! You are brave, very brave!

  20. April 16, 2014 1:27 am

    Good review.
    Without reading the book I think I feel would end up agreeing with you. While this book is fiction, there must be a sense of realism.

  21. Beth F permalink
    April 16, 2014 6:39 am

    I’ve been on the fence on this — still haven’t decided if I’ll give it a shot.

  22. April 16, 2014 7:37 am

    I guess I would still like to read this though I’m going to suspend my belief a little bit to be able to read without saying ‘what the heck’ often.

  23. April 16, 2014 3:58 pm

    Definitely not for me either. I appreciate your honest review!

  24. April 18, 2014 9:15 pm

    Just reading your review about it made me feel yucky!

  25. swright9 permalink
    April 21, 2014 5:30 pm

    Yeah I have no interest in this book or subject matter. Ick is right

  26. bookingmama permalink
    April 22, 2014 7:20 pm

    Pretty sure this one isn’t for me. Kudos to you for giving it a shot!

  27. April 25, 2014 11:11 am

    I’ve got this one on audio and didn’t get too far before setting it aside. I agree with you on many points that you made especially that none of the kids would have went home and told their parents what the teacher was talking about. Also the graphic nature of it. I think the point could have been made without it being as graphic. Anyhow it’s definitely out of my comfort zone as well and one day I pick it up just to see how it ends but it is a difficult one to listen to at length.

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