Celeste Price is a predator. There is no doubt of that. She preys upon the innocence of barely teenage boys to meet the needs of her arrested sexual development.
As we meet Celeste, it is the night before her first day as a middle-school-teacher. In some ways, she is the perfect criminal. She is gorgeous. Her husband, Ford, is gorgeous and rich. On paper, she has no reason to behave the way she does. There is nothing appealing about Celeste as a person. She is a horrible person.
In Tampa, Nutting investigates a double standard. If there was a late twenties man, having sex with his middle-school students, the public opinion would be that he should be castrated. However, a sexy young female teacher, divulges in similar acts of pedophelia and the boys are seen as lucky.
Society tends to see a young female teacher who preys on her students as a sex symbol. Nutting plays out exactly how this situation is a violation. However, she does so in a very sexually-graphic way, often making me feel uncomfortable during the reading.
Now, why does this story take place in Tampa? Well, those of you who don't live in the Tampa Bay Area (as I do) may not recall the rash of female teachers who were arrested around 2005-2008. The most famous being Debra Lafave, who is an obvious model for Celeste. On a side note: I am familiar enough with the area to know that Nutting is not at all familiar with the area. A bit more fact checking could have gone into the work. It was bothersome to be pulled out of the story to think, um that's not accurate.
This is Nutting's first novel. This was a brave work. The initial reviews of this work are mixed. Popular opinion may not support this work but the literary community will. This book was interesting, well though out, and well written. Definitely worth the read, if for no other reason, to see what the fuss is about.
Tampa was released on July 2 by Ecco Press.
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