23 October, 2014

Book Review: Tampa

From Goodreads: Celeste Price is an eighth-grade English teacher in suburban Tampa. She's undeniably attractive. She drives a red Corvette with tinted windows. Her husband, Ford, is rich, square-jawed, and devoted to her.
But Celeste's devotion lies elsewhere. She has a singular sexual obsession—fourteen-year-old boys. Celeste pursues her craving with sociopathic meticulousness and forethought; her sole purpose in becoming a teacher is to fulfill her passion and provide her access to her compulsion. As the novel opens, fall semester at Jefferson Jr. High is beginning.
In mere weeks, Celeste has chosen and lured the lusciously naive Jack Patrick into her web. Jack is enthralled and in awe of his teacher, and, most important, willing to accept Celeste's terms for a secret relationship—car rides after school; rendezvous at Jack's house while his single father works late; body-slamming encounters in Celeste's empty classroom between periods.
Ever mindful of the danger—the perpetual risk of exposure, Jack's father's own attraction to her, and the ticking clock as Jack leaves innocent boyhood behind—the hyperbolically insatiable Celeste bypasses each hurdle with swift thinking and shameless determination, even when the solutions involve greater misdeeds than the affair itself. In slaking her sexual thirst, Celeste Price is remorseless and deviously free of hesitation, a monstress driven by pure motivation. She deceives everyone, and cares nothing for anyone or anything but her own pleasure.
With crackling, rampantly unadulterated prose, Tampa is a grand, uncompromising, seriocomic examination of want and a scorching literary debut.

Thoughts: Purchased after watching an interview with the author, I always knew Tampa was going to be confronting.
Tampa is the story of Celeste, a middle school English teacher who has a predilection for 14 year old boys and sets out to deliberately seduce one of her students. Yep, I know, icky to say the least.
Let me get one thing straight here - sexual abuse of children is abhorrent, regardless of the sex of the victim or the abuser. The idea that what happens in this book is in anyway ok because it "fulfils the fantasy of just about any 14year old boy"  is bullshit. Reading this gives a very clear description of the manipulation and predatory behaviour that any sexual predator engages in. Celeste is all about the sex - for her there is no emotional connection and no thought for the emotional well being of her victim. Her description of the sex (and there is a lot) is clinical and all about her arousal and satisfaction. All her fear is around being caught and cut off from adolescent boys.
The end I found hard to read. As a reader, mother and teacher I wanted justice but the reality is in the real world what happened is most probably fairly close to what would happen. It was obvious to me that Jack was badly damaged by the encounter - obvious in more ways than one.
Tampa is not a book for all. It's confronting and not at all comfortable to read. It's not a book I would recommend to anyone although I'd be more than happy to discuss it with people and let them make their own decision. It was compelling though and hard to put down - if only to get it over and done with as soon as possible.