Robin Reads: Tampa
Holy Toledo, I read/watch a lot of dark stuff, but Tampa, the debut novel from Alissa Nutting was so troubling that…I couldn’t put it down. The book is told from the perspective of Celeste, a 26-year old middle school English teacher who targets and manipulates 14 year old boys into sexual relationships. It’s not something that just happens, she plans out every step, selecting her victims carefully, seeing which if them is most likely to tell on her, who is innocent enough but will be open to her sexual advances, etc. etc. And she thinks of nothing else. She is a total and utter sociopath. Everything she does, every part she plays, is all for the purpose of her sexual manipulation of these boys. She literally cares for nothing else or no one else. It brings to mind the movie To Die For, except that the main character manipulated a teenage for the goal of fame. Celeste sexually abuses these boys for the purpose of the abuse. Comparisons to Humbert Humbert from Lolita have also been brought up, but I believe she is far more evil.
We’re all familiar with the anti-heroes, the ambiguous morality of our antagonists that make us root for them, i.e. Dexter, but this is not one of them. This woman is pure evil and pure predator. So, it’s a risky move to write from her perspective, but damn it’s compelling.
Another note, whomever designed the cover for this is one sick and genius designer.
Not recommended for the squeamish. But recommended.