Celeste has sexual desire for teenage boys - more specifically fourteen year old boys (not quite a child, not quite a man) - and she organises her whole life around this desire. She is essentially a sociopath who will do almost anything to satisfy her lusts.
The main bulk of the book concerns her affair (predation?, corruption?) with Jack Patrick - an easily led fourteen year old who eventually takes the encounters with his school teacher more seriously than she does. We are treated to descriptions of their sexual antics and the ways in which Celeste plans the meetings with meticulousness so as to avoid being caught. Near the end of the book she starts an affair with a much more willing boy and this proves to be her downfall (she lets her passions override her logical side).
The novel is told from Celeste's point of view and captures her matter of fact way of thinking perfectly (a similar style was used in 'American Psycho
') and, because it is from her point of view, there is no moralising, guilt or redemption - she does what she does because she wants to do it, and she doesn't see it as wrong but knows it is against the law. Of course by the end of the book questions will be raised about her actions in the reader's mind - is a female 'abusing' (in the eyes of the law) teenage boys as bad as a male 'abusing' teenage girls? don't some of a teenage boy's fantasies revolve around sexual contact with a good looking female teacher? how come society condemns her actions while it simultaneously surrounds us with images of young, good looking, sexy teenage girls and boys? and are love and sex two quite different things?
Of course comparisons with Nabokov's 'Lolita
' are obvious but, apart from the subject matter, they couldn't be more different and I think the comparisons are unwarranted. It makes more sense to compare it to the novel 'Lightning Rods
' and the writers Charlotte Roche
, Chuck Palahniuk
, A.M. Homes
and Douglas Coupland
, it also treads similar ground to Eleanor Catton's 'The Rehearsal
' and Emily Maguire's 'Taming the Beast
If you are looking for a thought provoking read, something ultra-modern or even something which might make you slightly uncomfortable then this could be the book for you.