~TEENY TINY SPOILERS MAY DWELL WITHIN
What I really want to do with this review is write: It was okay, I laughed a lot – and then move on.
I don’t know why my opinion on this story of Celeste, a middle school teacher with a penchant for 14-year-old boys would be so ‘meh’, but it is.
When I started it, I had high hopes. Since I am reading this a year after it burst onto the bestseller lists and shocked everyone with its controversial subject matter, I guess I had the luxury of enjoying it my way. You know, without being swayed by the hype buzzing around it.
And it delivered in some ways. Aspects of this book are genius. It is also very funny and at its heart is a protagonist so vile that you just don’t know what to do with your feelings toward her.
Celeste is married to Ford, a somewhat hapless cop who affords her the comfortable lifestyle and the expensive facial creams she needs to live. He also works odd hours which leaves her plenty of time to plan and execute the grooming of her pupil, Jack Patrick.
After carefully selecting the perfect
victim? recipient of her tireless sexual attention, Celeste is rabid in her quest to quench her decade long thirst for nubile flesh. It’s not giving too much away to say that the inevitable sex scenes are graphic to the max and this is exactly how it should be. You can’t take such an unapologetic topic and then pussyfoot around the physical scenes.
I guess what I liked was the fantasy line her mind takes when she’s thinking about what is sexy to her. I also found myself sort of liking Celeste at times, despite the fact that she hasn’t a good bone in her body. Since the story is told from the point of view of Celeste herself, and that we learn this all via her own inner monologue, we are under no illusion about that.
She is blunt, calculating and vain, only too aware of how ‘unusually attractive’ good looks are perceived by the world. First by the opposite sex, then to manipulate other members of the faculty, including her grotesque colleague, Janet; through to the law and the media.
Incidentally, what is as shocking as the crime itself, it the notion that somebody so good-looking should not be treated in the same manner as other criminals, or that the boys she has groomed were more ‘lucky’ to have been picked than anything else (mostly male consensus there). Since this is inspired by the true story of Debra Lafave (and others), this angle is not so much a fictional fabrication, more a depressing insight into the way conventional beauty is rewarded, or more appropriately, excused.
In the real world, of course you would never warm to a person like Celeste, yet on paper she’s a character that will stick in your mind, if not literary history.
So, instead of my original one line synopsis, I will offer this: When it is good it is very very good, but when it comes down to it, it skips the mark ever so slightly for me.
As Celeste begins to make clunkier life decisions, allowing lust to rule her, her life begins to unravel. Unfortunately, it’s round about here that I started to lose interest. Once or twice I was a bit like “Realllllllllly? This woman is monstrous” and not in the fun way.
It is filth. It is shocking. It is interesting to read something like this from a female perspective and it is also fascinating to meet a woman who doesn’t show remorse, doesn’t apologise and when caught doesn’t reassess her life and then have a massive change of heart.
It’s well worth a read because it is well written and unfluffy, it’s about a female paedophile for shit’s sake! Again, I can’t stress enough how much it made me laugh, at times out loud.
Hell, make up your own minds but take the time if you can stomach it.
Guess I had more to say about it than I thought! For another insight into the same book, check out Hannah’s.
- Title: Tampa
- Publisher: Faber & Faber (1 Aug 2013)
- ISBN-10: 057130334X
- ISBN-13: 978-0571303342
- Bought paperback (secondhand)
Happy reading, Bookworms!