Author: Alissa Nutting
Type of Book: Fiction, Ripped from the Headlines, hebephilia
Why Do I Consider This Book Odd: Well, because I had to create the category “hebephilia” just for this book…
Availability: Published by Harper Collins in 2013, you can get a copy here:
Comments: My friend Jessica and I have very similar reading tastes in fiction so when I saw her mention on Facebook that she was left uneasy by this book, I knew I needed a copy. Jessica is not one to be nonplussed, so I was intrigued. I have to say her reaction was on the mark.
Before I begin discussing this book in earnest, here is a brief synopsis: Celeste Price, who is definitely a stand-in for the real life hebephile Debra Lafave, is sexually attracted only to fourteen-year-old boys, preferably before they start puberty. This is especially problematic because she is married to an older man and has just begun a job teaching 8th grade English. Celeste is in her early 20s, quite attractive, and a complete sociopath, wearing her mask of sanity and passing muster with other adults but engaging in risky behaviors, like very public masturbation. Preying on the children in her classrooms, she soon has an adolescent boy in her grasp. I don’t think it is a spoiler to reveal that Celeste eventually is hoist by her own petard (or rather busted out because her lusts make her sloppy) and comes to a very bad end because that should pretty much go without saying. In a sense, it doesn’t matter how this book ends because the reason to read this book is to get a good look at the inner workings of a sociopath.
I feel very much like this book hits a discordant note, but it also occurs to me that I feel this way because Nutting got Celeste absolutely right. She nailed Celeste. And that is why the book was fascinating, forcing me to read it in two sittings, and left me feeling empty and disturbed.