3.2 33
by Alissa Nutting

View All Available Formats & Editions

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

…  See more details below


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.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
In Nutting’s graphic first novel (after her story collection, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls), soon-to-be eighth-grade English teacher Celeste Price can barely contain her excitement about her adolescent boys; the 26-year-old passes the night “in an excited loop of hushed masturbation” while her good-looking but dull-witted husband slumbers. Celeste’s mind is as pragmatic as her body is luscious, and her patience (“I had to regard the students like a delicate art exhibit and stay six feet away at all times, lest I be tempted to touch”) pays off. Before long, she coaxes shy Jack into what becomes the first of many liaisons. Unlike American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman, Celeste is aware of her depravity—she fears that were she to work as a model, as some suggest, photos would capture “a soulless pervert”—but she indulges anyway. Her bold choice of meeting Jack at his house after school leads to unsurprising complications, as does the boy’s budding love. When Celeste’s usual caution erodes, all might be lost were this young woman not lover and fighter both. Nutting’s work creates a solid impression of Celeste’s psychopathic nature but, unlike the much richer Lolita, leaves the reader feeling empty. Agent: Jim Rutman, Sterling Lord Literistic. (July)
Marilyn Dahl
“TAMPA is one of the most shocking books I have read; it’s also one of the most mesmerizing and surprising. I expected to be disturbed, even appalled; what I did not expect in this story of a female teacher fixated on 14-year-old boys was lyricism and black humor.”
—New York Times
“...A highly diverting read...Ms. Nutting lands it.”
—Daily Beast
“Impeccably written, full of smart cultural observations, and no small amount of wit...A very bold book.”
—Entertainment Weekly
“The writing is often excellent, hilariously dark, and mean…Reading about [Celeste] was honestly disturbing and fun.”
—NewYorkmagazine.com's Vulture
It’s as riveting as it is disturbing.”
“Completely entertaining.”
—San Francisco Chronicle
“In this sly and salacious work, Nutting forces us to take a long, unflinching look at a deeply disturbed mind, and more significantly, at society’s often troubling relationship with female beauty.”
—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“A work of serious ambition, both literary and moral. It’s also laced with dark, sometimes savage humor and juicy riffs on consumer culture and its twin obsessions, youth and beauty.”
—Shelf Awareness
“Tampa is one of the most shocking books I have read; it’s also one of the most mesmerizing and surprising. Alissa Nutting has written a stunning, brutal book.”
“A deliriously enjoyable, absolutely shocking book—a morality tale that tempts and taunts readers to succumb to every kind of immorality.”
—New York Journal of Books
“Smart and biting.”
“A brilliant commentary on sex and society.”
—Tin House
“Tampa takes on a very serious and disturbing subject with such flair and dark humor and bawdy sexual energy that Nutting is sure to become a member in the small club of authors who turns risky writing into high art.”
—MSN Entertainment
“Bold and fascinatingly transgressive…Tampa may be the new American Psycho.”
Kirkus Reviews
A middle school teacher in Tampa, Fla., goes to outrageous lengths to hide her voracious sexual appetite for adolescent boys. Nutting certainly brought dark overtones to her story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls (2010), but even that auspicious debut pales next to the unclean psyche at the heart of her first novel. In a story that makes Nicholson Baker's work look hygienic by comparison, Nutting unleashes a devious temptress whose acts of deception are as all-consuming as her incessant masturbatory frenzy. Our narrator, Celeste Price, looks absolutely harmless on the surface. She's married to a rich suburban police officer, drives a hot car, and her looks could cause car wrecks. Unfortunately for her, Celeste is also deeply, unfixably broken. She says that the loss of her virginity at age 14 imprinted on her, and she has been working unceasingly as a student teacher to get to the mother lode: a gig as a full-time teacher of eighth-grade boys. In her first year, she obsesses over her chosen target, young Jack Patrick, on whom she ruminates in the most illustrative fashion. "Something in his chin-length blond hair, in the diminutive leanness of his chest, refined for me just what it was about the particular subset of this age group that I found entrancing," Celeste confesses. "He was at the very last link of androgyny that puberty would permit him: undeniably male but not man." Once she convinces Jack to give in, Celeste performs every salacious, graphic sexual act under the sun--almost as if she is committing these brazen acts on him and not with him. She even starts sleeping with her lover's father just to cover her tracks. For decades, transgressive fiction has traditionally been grim, male and graphic. For those few voices asking why there aren't more women working in this swamp, this one's for you. A taxing attempt to penetrate the mind of female child molesters with grimy, mundane results.

Read More

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >

Tampa 3.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 33 reviews.
jeanniezelos More than 1 year ago
Tampa.Alissa Nutting. ARC supplied by Netgalley. Mostly I'm a paranormal/fantasy/romance reader but I like to stretch my mind with something different sometimes – something thought provoking. Well Tampa certainly does that. It makes us look at our perceptions of acceptable behaviours and think how? Why? What should we do? Celeste is a high school teacher, married to Ford, a policeman though there doesn't seem to be any passion there. I get the impression its his money that she was attracted to and her appearance that hooked him. She's described by her father in law as a “trophy wife” and she's very, very keen to keep her appearance youthful, spending a fortune on high end cosmetics for that purpose. She a very clever manipulator as we can see from the text, its told completely from her POV which allows us access to her thought processes. So far she just sounds like an attractive but shallow teacher doesn't she? But she hides a huge secret – she's sexually attracted to schoolboys, those around fourteen, before they develop any sign of maturity, and at the start of each school year she picks out carefully which one she's going to target. She takes into account their backgrounds solely to ensure they are unlikely to report her ,or be caught out by family watching their behaviour. We see just what thoughts she has and how she goes about the process of selection. It's like being inside her head listening to her thinking what she needs to do. She's amazingly single minded, to the point where seduction of her chosen victim – and I use that phrase deliberately – becomes an all consuming obsession. Clearly she's got psychological problems, and yet like so many paedophiles she's very clever at manipulating people and circumstances to her best advantage. Poor Jack is her target at the start of the novel and slowly she lures him in. They quickly become sexually active, and she's has a stroke of luck when he discloses he lives with his father, and he's at work often after school so they have the house to themselves. Of course they have a time when they're almost caught ,and Celeste begins a very strange time where she convinces Jack father that she's his girlfriend, and that allows her to spend even more time there. Jack is convinced they're in love and will marry when he's eighteen. I feel so so sorry for him. Of course things go wrong, Jack moves away and Celeste picks up a new victim. Jack is able to return periodically so she's using both boys without the other knowing. Its a real study in how carefully child groomers work to seduce and convince kids they are wanted and loved, and that everything is done consensually when of course in reality they don't have the full story, or the maturity to see they are just being used. Sadly its a sharp look at life when all falls apart and Celeste is caught. Everyone is shocked at she's such a model teacher, good looking wife etc – its as if we only think of child molesters as sleezy, grubby, easily recognized characters ,when in reality they can be anyone. Even in her teaching lessons she obsesses about sex, talking about Romeo and Juliet, lord of the flies etc and bringing the sexual side in. She uses essays to discover what attracts her chosen boy to females, so she can emulate their choice. The kids love her as they see her as one of them and that's one of the dangers. Because she does well with them the other teachers assume all is well. Its a sharp reminder we need to look beyond the surface of people and see what they are really doing. At her trial there a part which mad me really sad, a bad reflection of society and yet very, very true. Her solicitor pushes the jury towards the view that 14 year old boys are ruled by their hormones, and that they made advances to her, and that most kids (and adult men) would envy them being sexually active with such a good looking young woman. I can see that as an argument used in reality. :( We're shocked at girls being groomed and yet a boy groomed by an attractive lady – its “whoa, good for you mate!” kind of attitude. We need to change that quickly. Alissa goes on to show us a bit about how badly affected the boys are – especially Jack who threw his emotions whole heartedly in and now has guilt feelings about what happened, including his part in what happened with his father. Its something that would be hard to recover from, and if it were real I think he'd need a great deal of help to get past it. It left me wondering what made Celeste this way, someone doesn't suddenly turn to kids for sex, there must have been some indications somewhere before it got this far? Something that happened to her maybe? Abusers are often abuse victims themselves. Sadly we also see how lightly she gets off at the end (IMO anyway) and how all the restrictions on keeping her from schools etc doesn't stop her getting in contact with more kids for sex. Its a sad story, really well written and realistic. Its not one I'd re read but was incredibly moving thinking about what went on, why she was as she was, what would happen to the boys after, and why the trial went as it did. I could relate it easily to a real event, everything was so carefully written and full of realism. It felt like reading a factual tale of something that had happened. It left me feeling sad for all of them, all those affected, the boys and their families, and even Celeste in a way, as though she was caught she didn't get the help she clearly needed, and went on with her sad and dangerous obsession. Stars: its rare I give full stars for a book I'll only read once but this one deserves it., so five it is
JustineLynn More than 1 year ago
I am only 30 pages in, but I definitely know that I'll be recommending this book to anyone with a strong stomach. Normally I'll read anything, from Stephen King to Jodie Piccoult, however this is realllly out of my comfort zone.I was on page 8 when I put my nook down and called my husband to rant.. I've read books like the Exorcist and have never been as horrified as I was reading this.. I just HAVE to see where this book goes... So far it's been worth the 2.99 I paid for it. We shall see what happens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
And stuff like this happens EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
KDH_Reviews More than 1 year ago
Goodness. This is definitely a book that everyone’s going to have an opinion about. Never mind whether or not they’ve actually read the book, they’ve got something to say! Alright, so this book was a little difficult to read. Well, not so much difficult as uncomfortable. Yes, that’s it. I was uncomfortable, but who wouldn’t be? (That’s totally a redundant question, by the way.) I knew the book was pushing boundaries and going for that shock value (let’s be honest, right?). I didn’t quite expect something as graphic as what I got, but I should have known better. I felt torn between whether or not the vulgarity of the book was necessary (it’s generally harder to imagine a woman in such a position) or just purely shock. In the end, I sided with necessary. I think Celeste needed to be painted as she was to really convey that she was as much of a sexual predator/monster as a man could be. That being said, there’s a very fine line between necessary and shock value here. It was well written. It was disturbing, especially in the “I probably shouldn’t like this. Maybe I should. I don’t know! There’s way too much grey area here… but I do like it!” kind of way. And just to clarify, this is a good book. I don’t condone Celeste’s behavior, whether male or female, so it makes it somewhat strange to enjoy about something I am so against. Weird, I tell you! By the end of the book, I was slightly disappointed. I’m not sure exactly how I wanted it to end, but it certainly wasn’t like it did. I suppose, though, that the ending was, unfortunately, pretty realistic. While the review was hard for me to write… because really, I don’t know how to express how I feel after reading something like this, it was an easy book to rate. I enjoyed reading it and would certainly recommend it. That recommendation, though, would come with a warning that it is pretty vulgar and cringe-inducing. Be sure to check out all of my reviews on my blog, KDH Reviews.
BrandyGirl More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book because it was certainly very unusual. I really liked the idea of seeing things from a pedophile's standpoint which is what made this book so good. I found it hard to put down and couldn't wait to see what happened next.
Anonymous 10 months ago
This book contains some of the most vile and uncomfortable content I've ever read. However, I couldn't put it down! I read the entire thing in less than 2 days. Definitely an easy to read and engaging story, but I would strongly recommend it to those with "strong stomachs", as another reviewer mentioned. Celeste is easily recognizable as a dispicable human being and watching her story play out is sure to keep you hanging on to every last word.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I could not put this book down!  I literally tore through it in two days (I'm a slow reader!)  The first 20 pages or so are shocking and twisted -- not the kind of stuff I'd normally read, but it sucked me in real fast.  The book is very well written.  I live in Tampa and am remember when Debra Lafave was in the news -- this book is loosely based off  those events.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who can handle it.  It certainly provided for interesting dinner conversation when out with friends the other night!!  My only criticism is that the book should've been given a different title.  Yes, the story was based off an event that happened in Tampa, but really this book could've been set anywhere and the title "Tampa" doesn't have much if anything to do with this fictional story.  Brave to Alissa Nutting on her first novel!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Its a sick book but nicely written in the way of how much of an eye opener it is. There are people who get arrested everday for this, why didn't we see the signs ahead of time? More importantly, how is this still happening? Right now its happening. Tomorrow it'll happen. This book is gross in the way of teens getting seduced and the details of her fantisies and the sexual contact. It is however an obvious book that makes you think about our system and what happens. I started reading it because I heard it was a banned book. I didn't read the plot or anything on it. Its worth reading. It does have a twisted plot that makes you go "What the?" And another at the end. I was surprised. **reviewed by B.Amazing**
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RebeccaScaglione More than 1 year ago
Tampa by Alissa Nutting is not a book for everyone.  In fact, it might not be a book that you even want to read.  It's rated 3.33 on Goodreads.   But I'm giving this weirdly uncomfortable book 4 stars.  Why?  Because only great writers make you feel REALLY uncomfortable with the topic you are reading about.   Let me explain. . .  Celeste is a (fictional) teacher in Tampa, Florida.  She's 26, gorgeous, married to a wealthy handsome man, and is so excited to start teaching English!   Why is she so excited?  She wants to sleep with a fourteen-year-old male student and she can't wait to meet "the one," who turns out to be her student, Jack.  This book is sexually explicit.  Which isn't always a problem for people (See 50 Shade of Twilight Fan Fiction crap that was a bestseller.  Seriously, it's Twilight Fan Fiction.  Google it if you don't believe me.).   In Tampa, there IS a problem with the sexual explicitness: it's with a 14-year-old and a 26-year-old.  And it makes you feel REALLY uncomfortable.   But Alissa Nutting did a good job writing this book to make you feel that way on purpose.  Eliciting a reaction (positive or negative) out of your readers is a goal of writing, and no one can deny that Alissa did that well.  I gobbled up Tampa, felt very disturbed by Celeste, but would read another book by Alissa Nutting in a heartbeat.   Not-really-related side note: In one short scene in the novel, Celeste and her husband are on the phone, and Celeste says, "Isn't it against the law to be on your phone while you drive?"  Her husband responds, "Not while you're driving the cop car, sweets."  Just FYI for all of you (and to Alissa!!), it's not against the law to be on your cell phone (or text) in Florida while driving.  While it's not really related to the book, it bugged me enough to want to add it here.      Thanks to Leah @ Books Speak Volumes & Jennifer @ The Relentless Reader for passing the book along!   So, is this book for you or is it one you will skip? Thanks for reading, Rebecca @ Love at First Book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
mermao More than 1 year ago
A very guilty pleasure indeed. The heroine is an obsessed masturbating, child-molesting, somewhat homicidal sexual sociopath. Think of a female Dexter but without the redeeming social value. And you'll be cheering for her every step of the way and eagerly awaiting a sequel.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
...much more than i thought i would. She is soooo twisted.....
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a graphic book that is bound to make lots of people uncomfortable. It was an interesting subject and storyline you don't come up against often.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
We just read this my bookclub and all14 of us agree this is just not good. The writing is poor, every character is one dimensional making it so there isn't one likable character. In theory, this book could have been great, made relevant points about our societies stance on sex and gender, made me care about any character, but it fell very short.