Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tampa

by Allisa Nutting
Sept 26-Oct 13, 2013

This book should have come with a warning: Rated M for mature audiences. Seriously. But it also should have come with a lesser-known warning: this book will absolutely make you squirm. While reading I felt both criminal and twisted for continuing to turn the pages. My conscience told me to put it down. But I just couldn't. I needed to know that Celeste Price wasn't going to get away with it.

And by "it" I mean preying her on 14-year old male students. To fulfill her sexual needs. Nutting does not gloss over details; she embellishes to the point of jaw-dropping disbelief. What was going through the author's head as she penned each chapter?? Controversial subject matter is sure to sell more books, is my opinion. When I was ready to give up on Tampa, I decided to check out a few reviews on Goodreads to see if I was the one who was off-base. It seems the general consensus was that her writing was great and that was what kept readers interested to the end. I'm not sure I agree with that. Not that it was horrible, but it just "was." I suppose it if was really awful I would have been more inclined to quit. But I just had to make sure justice was served.

The official synopsis goes as far as calling Tampa "seriocomic;" yet I never once cracked a smile. And while I'm quite sure the controversy over this book will simply be because the so-called gender roles are reversed, I can't necessarily say that this was a tale that needed to be told. Getting into Celeste's mind is no place I'd ever want to be. When she described her target as an "adolescent morsel," I gagged. First because GROSS and second because I hate the word morsel. This is the point where I can chuckle. The bottom line is that reactions like mine wouldn't even occur if the teacher was a male and obsessed with young girls. We'd condemn him, yes, but it wouldn't have the same shock value.

The last few chapters were the most intriguing for me because I felt they did the best at really getting into a pedophile's mind. To explain that no amount of punishment would cure this sickness. To show that there is no remorse in the merciless. And as to whether or not justice was served... well... you'll have to find out for yourself.

It's interesting to note that Allisa Nutting is an assistant professor at John Carroll University, which many of my friends attended. I wonder if any of them ever crossed her path?! I'd love to know what is on her creative writing class syllabus.

* * * * *