Tampa by Alissa Nutting

Tampa by Alissa Nutting
Ecco | Hardcover, 266 pages
Published July 2nd, 2013
Adult Fiction
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

The story of a pedophile who preys on young boys, Tampa is a cringe-worthy read that will push your gag-reflex to its limits. When I picked up this book, I knew what I was getting into; it is  shelved under “morbid-curiosity” shelf in my Goodreads, after all. Regardless of the disgusting subject matter that’s a normal repellant for me, I opted to pick it up because I’ve always been a believer that no one could learn by being comfortable. Sometimes, you have to test your boundaries. Well, this book, had me shifting uncomfortably and sweating under the collar.

I wasn’t expecting love; not even the sweet thrill of forbidden romance. Instead, I got this story of an unscrupulous, unrepentant woman whose hunting style rivals that of a serial killer profiling her next victim. She’s got it down to Science – everything from maintaining her teen-boys-wet-dream’s appearance to drugging her husband to avoid sex (that happens pretty regularly); not to mention the way she meticulously picked her victim. It wasn’t just that they have to be somewhat appealing, but the boys would have to have the right psychological make-up. She’s cunning and – dare I say it – brilliant.

There’s nothing else to be gleaned off this story but the flimsy divide between love and obsession – sickness, too. Her sole focus was on her selfish need to satiate her desire to have sex with fourteen-year-old boys. She was repulsed by the mere thought of having sex with her husband, who incidentally, was much older than she. Her obsession with little boys started when she was a teenager herself. I guess you can say she never really got over it.

I’d imagined pedophiles to be contrite once they were caught. Not Celeste. Her sickness didn’t stop. Even while briefly incarcerated the sexual fantasies didn’t stop. She looked forward to getting out not to  create a different life or to seek help. She looked forward to being around children once again.

This is a story of a one-sided love; one that predictably ended badly. Celeste loved only herself; while her victim loved her in a way that’s no less motherly.