Tampa by Alissa Nutting makes you uncomfortable. . .


Don’t you just love a book with a Caution: Explicit Content logo on the cover? It’s just so tempting!

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 (For example, 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, it’s not against the law to be on your cell phone (or text) in Florida while driving.

I even contacted Alissa on Twitter to let her know. . . (and she contacted me back!)

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?


Interested in getting your own copy? Check it out on Amazon & IndieBound. I get a small percentage if you purchase from those links, and it doesn’t cost you any extra.


35 thoughts on “Tampa by Alissa Nutting makes you uncomfortable. . .

  1. While I agree with you that an author who can make you really think about an uncomfortable topic is probably doing something right, I think the age difference would weird me out too much for me to want to give this one a try 🙂


  2. It sounds so shocking, indeed (just like the one I read about the father-daughter), and I agree that if the writer has made you feel something (except for boredom), it’s because they are good!


  3. I can see why this would be disturbing and make people uncomfortable. To be honest with you, I doubt that I would find it disturbing to read about the relationship, however if the sexual content about their relationship is explicit I wouldn’t enjoy reading it.


  4. I really want to read this. I love stories that unleash (is that the right word?) a feeling in me, because not a lot of books can do that. 😉 Also: maybe it’s not illegal, but I wouldn’t recommend talking on your cell while driving!


  5. Haha of course you caught the cell phone inaccuracy 😛 I’ve been really slowly reading Nutting’s short story collection, Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, and I like it so much better than Tampa. It’s similarly dark and twisty, and it makes me feel squirmy sometimes, but it feels more slyly funny than Tampa. You would probably really like it!


    • I’m just so picky about inaccuracies. . . I tried to not let it bug me, but for whatever reason it did. It’s funny, too, because I can totally do far-fetched. I’m cool with stories where people travel in time, but not when a cell phone driving rule is inaccurate! Haha!

      I’d adding Unclean to my to-read list now (and checking to see if they have it digitally). Especially if you like it more than you liked Tampa, and it’s still dark and twisty, it sounds good to me!


  6. I don’t want to sound like an echo here, but despite the shout out for writers who make you feel something (which is what I always hope to do when I write), I don’t think I could tolerate the image of the explicit relationship between the teacher and her young student. Just too uncomfortable.

    BTW, in case you read a book that mentions OR’s cell phone law, it IS illegal here to talk on your cell while driving UNLESS you’re using a hands-free device! And if you take time to cross the river into Vancouver, WA, you can legally purchase marijuana for whatever reason you want. So that’s two more laws covered for your scrutinizing eyes, Rebecca! Good job!


    • Haha on the cell phone thing! I actually have researched it often recently, since I’ve been moving every few months with my husband. I have to know lots of state cell phone rules, just to make sure we don’t accidentally break one and get a ticket!

      And Sherrey, like I said this book is FOR SURE not for everyone! It’s not a feel-good book or one that even glances over an explicit relationship: it’s graphic. It’s very much unlike what I normally read, but since it was “modern fiction” with explicitness (not like 50 Shades which is just explicitness with little to no literary value), the book was a worthwhile read for me. The majority of bloggers feel more negatively about Tampa, so you’re not alone in thinking this one is not for you.

      Thanks for being open enough to share your opinion! I like to hear both the good and the not-so-good. 😀


    • Exactly. It’s very brave of Nutting to be so open with her writing, it’s commendable, even if the book’s topic is not something that many people would enjoy reading. Freedom of speech, and someone brave enough to “go there.” 😛


  7. I think it’s awesome that you’ve reviewed this one. I decided not to because I’m a big chicken. It was the sort of book that I read with my eyes half-closed…I was so afraid of what was going to happen next!


  8. I don’t even know if I could stomach this book.

    But oooo, lucky Floridians! I think the no talking on cell phones laws are stupid. MAYBE no-texting, but geeez. I feel like eventually they’re going to outlaw eating, drinking (non-alcoholic), listening to music, etc while you drive, all under the “it’s a distraction!” scare.


    • I agree that texting is the larger distraction and that should be something that many more states pass laws against. I’m not sure about talking though. I don’t think that bluetooth or speaker makes you less distracted than physically holding the phone, but it is a tough call. I think I’d have to look at statistics with phone calls and car accidents.


  9. We’re never very comfortable reading about people with morals outside of the norm, particularly when young people are involved. But that’s reality; there are people like this out there. Pretending there aren’t is like trying to ban books so our kids can’t read them and find out about cursing, and sex, and violence.


    • You’re right. The topic is very sensitive and is tougher to read about due to the explicit nature, but I do believe that its important to read about things that are uncomfortable and “banned” because it’s life. I feel strongly for the First Amendment and think that banning books is just awful. . . Even the most radical, horrific people are still allowed to make their points.


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