Read The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta Online


Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise kids. It's got the proverbial good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market. It's the kind of place where parents are involved in their children's lives, where no opportunity for enrichment goes unexplored.Ruth Ramsey is the human sexuality teacher at the local high school. She believes that "pleasure is good, sStonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise kids. It's got the proverbial good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market. It's the kind of place where parents are involved in their children's lives, where no opportunity for enrichment goes unexplored.Ruth Ramsey is the human sexuality teacher at the local high school. She believes that "pleasure is good, shame is bad, and knowledge is power." Ruth's younger daughter's soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved. Tim belongs to The Tabernacle, an evangelical Christian church that doesn't approve of Ruth's style of teaching. And Ruth in turn doesn't applaud The Tabernacle's mission to take its message outside its doors. Adversaries in a small-town culture war, Ruth and Tim instinctively mistrust each other. But when a controversy on the soccer field pushes the two of them to actually talk to each other, they are forced to take each other at something other than face value.The Abstinence Teacher exposes the powerful emotions that run beneath the surface of modern American family life and explores the complex spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people. Elegantly written, it is characterized by the distinctive mix of satire and compassion that have animated Perrotta's previous novels....

Title : The Abstinence Teacher
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780307356369
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 368 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Abstinence Teacher Reviews

  • David
    2019-03-22 18:17

    JESUS WANTS YOU ........ TO GROW A PAIR. Tommy, Tommy, Tommy! How did such a promising young literary stud like yourself turn out to be such an emasculated whore? When did things start to go so horribly, horribly wrong?Let me be clear. When I picked you up at the airport in San Francisco, it was with entirely clear-eyed, realistic expectations. Let's face it. I wasn't looking for the literary love of my life. Just a two-plane romance - enough to while away the time it takes to get from SFO to Madrid. Maybe a little bathroom nookie during my stopover in Dulles. And believe me - I'm no snob about this shit. I think there's everything to be said for the fleeting joy of airplane lit. Done right, it can be one of life's great pleasures. And the possibility can never be ruled out that it may lead to a deeper and more passionate commitment. I mean, look at Nate and Brenda in "Six Feet Under", and how well it worked out for them. Even the briefest of airport bathroom encounters is pregnant with possibility.So I'll admit to a certain nervous excitement as I boarded the plane at SFO, your manly bulk in my pocket, pressing against my crotch in mute promise of pleasures yet to come. And for the first 20 pages or so, you didn't disappoint. There was wit, a sense of direction, a certain ability to nail characters with brisk efficiency within a couple of snappy paragraphs.But I should have heeded the warning signs that were obvious right there in the book store. Even if the appalling cutesy biographical sketch could be excused as a horrendous contrivance foisted upon you by your publicist, there was that truly worrisome 'author portrait', which presumably you had to have approved at the very least. You know the one I'm talking about. The one where your desperate need to be liked permeates every line of the simpering come-hither rictus of a wistful little-lost-geisha-boy pout that you project to your potential johns. It might as well have been subtitled "me make you happy long time". Did they teach you that at geisha school, Tommy? To try to be all things to all men? Because, here's the thing, eunuchboy. Let me let you in on a little secret. Nowadays even the sweatiest of Japanese salarymen no longer finds the response "Who would you like me to be?" even faintly arousing in answer to the question "Who are you?".So that, when your thin excuse for a bold courageous novel touching on polemic issues degenerated into an incoherent mess of not wanting to offend anybody under any circumstances, frankly my frustration increased in direct proportion to the flaccidity of your prose. What was particularly weird was that you were hardly fooling anyone with your lethally boring 150 pages of padding trying to cover up the moral vaccum at the heart of your cardboard ex-stoner Jesus freak. And what about plot, Tommy? Do castrati get a pass? WARNING....... POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD .... BUT ONLY IF YOU ARE REALLY, REALLY STUPID ... AS STUPID AS THE AUTHOR ... WHICH SEEMS UNLIKELY ...Or is that what passes for resolution these days? Fading to black as hormonal Barbie and stoner Ken get it on. Despite the well-documented lack of genitalia of said eponymous action figurines. And apparently of the author of this excessively wordy piece of trash of a book, devoid of almost any smidgen of intellectual content. Guaranteed to offend nobody. Unless, of course, you have a brain.

  • Fabian
    2019-03-23 18:10

    Tom Perrotta creates self-fulfilling demimondes in intricate detail. But it's all sound and fury. This one's about what occurs when the Religious Right clashes with more modern and shall we say promiscuous tastes. His best is the hilarious "Joe College." His worst: "The Leftovers." & this one fits somewhere snuggly in between.

  • David
    2019-04-04 23:04

    My dad sent me this book, and also the DVD of "Little Children", which is based on his novel of the same name. Here's what I wrote him after reading it:I went to the theater but it was packed, so I opted out, went to a coffee shop and read Perrotta's book, which I finished this morning. Really bad. If you haven't read it yet, I wouldn't bother. There was something that bothered me about Little Children that I couldn't put my finger on until now. Perrotta is trying to be the moralist of suburbia, but his values are shallow and his insights banal, and I think mostly wrong. Not to mention, in the case of The Abstinence Teacher, a real snoozer-- 350 pages to describe a confrontation between a single soccer mom and born again recovering addict soccer coach who leads the kids in a prayer after one of their games. Maybe I've spoiled myself having just read McCarthy and Roth back to back, both masters of the austere. In comparison, this book is just farty.

  • Jason Pettus
    2019-04-04 19:20

    (My entire review of this book is much longer than GoodReads' word-count limitations. Find the entire essay at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)As I've mentioned here a couple of times before, I've recently become a fairly big fan of movie-friendly author Tom Perrotta; for example, I found his breakthrough 2006 novel Little Children to be a surprisingly complex and subtle look at just what a horrific place the suburbs can be to some people, a stifling environment that squashes all yearning for something beyond the lowest common denominator as thoroughly as a Communist cultural crackdown. Ah, but then I read his latest, 2007's similarly-themed The Abstinence Teacher, and realized something I think I knew all along but that I hadn't wanted to admit to myself; that Perrotta in fact dances on that thin little line between being a good movie-friendly author and a bad one, and that even a small amount of seemingly inconsequential bad decisions on his part concerning character and story will eventually amount to one giant stinker of a book by the end, even with such a book still being 92-percent exactly like the other book that's great and that everyone loves.Like Little Children, for example, The Abstinence Teacher is also set in a repressive McMansion-happy middle-class suburb in the American Northeast; like Little Children, it's also supposed to be about a subversive sexual tension between people on opposite sides of an arbitrary issue that is arbitrarily important in this gossipy hothouse suburban environment. But see, here's a perfect example of what I'm talking about, because in Little Children Perrotta makes such a relationship work, by making the supposed opposites actually two sides of the same coin; in that book, it makes sense that the former radical-feminist academe and the former frat-boy football hero would have a charged illicit affair, because it was the Kafkaesque environment they were in that brought an end to both their individual hopes and dreams. In his newest book, though, Perrotta tries to use a Fundamentalist Christian church as the catalyst bringing two people from opposite sides of the fence suddenly and unusually together; but in this case such a thing simply doesn't work, because of the church and its actions causing a legitimate rift between anyone who falls on either side of the fence, too big to be overcome in a cutesy romantic way like Perrotta tries to do.In fact, this is the question I kept coming back to, over and over and over again as I read this novel; of why the main Christian character, former rock star and wicked addict Tim Mason, so thoroughly devotes his life to a cartoonishly evil Evangelical church to begin with. Perrotta tries to explain that it was the church who helped him overcome his addiction, and so Tim feels an irrational fear of falling off the wagon if he were to ever stray from their mustache-twirling neocon activities, but I'm not buying it; I myself am an atheist who's never been through a recovery program, and even I know that there are literally hundreds of politically moderate religious organizations out there designed specifically to help recovering addicts. (This is even a basic precept of...

  • Snotchocheez
    2019-04-07 16:56

    2.5 StarsThe Abstinence Teacher is a pretty solid near-three-star read from Tom Perrotta, though I thought he really could've gone a lot farther with his observations on the rift between the religious right and the secular left. It does, though, serve as an ideal warm-up to his (in my opinion) much more fully realized The Leftovers. Though this 2007 release seems slightly dated, Perrotta's core societal perceptions are just as salient today as they were ten years ago. His protagonist Ruth Ramsey is a Sex Ed teacher at a public high school (in Anywhereville USA, aka Stonewood Heights) whose curriculum is being dictated by Christian-fronted special interest groups that advocate sexual abstinence. Ruth, a free-spirited divorced mother of two daughters, routinely finds herself butting heads with school administrators when parents' complaints arise over Ruth's teaching techniques (nothing more controversial really than discussions of contraception). Representing the other side of the ideological rift is Tim Mason, a reformed Grateful Deadhead stoner, now the soccer coach of one of Ruth's daughters, and member of the Tabernacle (one of the churches responsible for the Ruth's SexEd curriculum change). Sparks fly when Ruth sees Tim leading her daughter's team in a post-game prayer. Things get kinda ugly from there.Although Perrotta is a gifted writer, there are times while reading this that I wished he could've done more with his characters. Instead of introducing (seemingly) dozens of minor players, he should've concentrated his efforts on the two principal protagonists so I could feel something for them. Instead I found myself shrugging as Perrotta led them toward a predictable (yet strangely unresolved) denouement. His sense of humor and keen eye for the social climate made this a fun book to read, though I was left slightly empty by it (perhaps as empty as the shoes on the cover of The Leftovers).

  • Ceilidh
    2019-04-02 21:16

    The abstinence movement and the Christian right are two of my favourite topics in relation to American politics, one of my strange hobbies. They both fascinate and horrify me in equal measure and I’m always on the lookout for books, fiction and non-fiction, related to them to fuel my interest. I’ve only read one Tom Perrotta novel before, “Little Children”, which I enjoyed immensely and found to be a well orchestrated satire on suburban life and its less than picture perfect truth, so I entered reading “The Abstinence Teacher” optimistically, only to find myself very disappointed very quickly.This book isn’t populated by characters; it’s populated by mouthpieces for opinions. Every character acts like a mouthpiece, everything they say seems to be taken from a newspaper article debating the pros and cons of religious and sexual issues, and their functions as mouthpieces don’t give them any room to develop as fully rounded characters independent of the debate Perrotta wants to have. They’re not even well rounded opinions to spout off. There is very little resolution to these points and they don’t seem to develop beyond a few buzzwords or commentary rants better suited to a newspaper opinion page with a limited word count. Things happen and there are some interesting set-ups for what promise to be bigger and more explosive events but they seldom come to fruition. It’s such a disappointment because the potential is definitely there. We only get one or two real scenes of Ruth teaching abstinence and the school politics of it all but Perrotta seems bored, as if he doesn’t want to create any real conflict. I wanted to see more of the newly instigated abstinence classes’ impact on the school and its students. I wanted to see how big an impact the growing churches were having on the community (it’s hinted at and ranted about as yet another mouthpiece opinion but never given much development beyond that.) I wanted to see more of Ruth’s daughters choosing to engage with the church and the tensions it created with Ruth and her anti-church stance. There was plenty of room for these things, why weren’t they there?There is no real story to speak of, events just ramble along and meander back and forth as the point-of-view switches from divorced mother and health teacher Ruth to born again Christian with a crisis Tim. These two characters are supposed to be engaged in a battle of wits and morals, one being the atheist with a grudge against the radically increasing Christian presence in her school, the other the former drug addicted rock-star who found solace in Christ and wants to be a good person through his teachings. Once or twice, we’re treated to an interesting conversation between the two, and it is interesting to hear their parental stories, but since they spend so little page time together, it makes the weak, abrupt conclusion all the more baffling and lazy. I can’t say I especially disliked Ruth or Tim. As I said before, they were mainly mouthpieces but they did have a lot of things I really liked, such as Tim’s struggle to be what he saw as a good Christian man and Ruth’s relationship with her daughters. Instead of any real development in these traits that actually would have had relevance to the plot, we’re treated to page after page of tell-don’t-show info-dumps of Ruth’s teenage sex escapades, her desperation for a man (because a strong, independent and intelligent 40 something single woman must be in want of a man at every possible moment) and other bites of information that could have been woven much less awkwardly into the story to a much more effective result. There were some moments crying to be re-written, the biggest one that stands out in my mind being a moment where Tim muses about homosexuality and how he doesn’t think it’s a sin (told with the subtlety of a sledgehammer with a talk radio show) when we have an established character who is a gay man working in the high school with Ruth who could have been used much more effectively to portray the topic of homosexuality and its place in the Christian right and schools. Any potential for wit and truly successful satire is gone and the rest just falls flat. (I’m also worried since Perrotta’s prose bugged me quite a bit yet it reminds me so much of my own. I’ve got some rewrites to do.)Overall, “The Abstinence Teacher” was such a disappointment. It was incredibly mediocre, but not without some merit, and failed to truly get a sense of the contradictions and difficulties of the abstinence movement and the growing presence of the Christian right in public services in America. Perrotta seems more concerned with painting a black and white picture with very broad strokes when what was really needed was a much finer brush and a wider palate of colours.

  • Michael
    2019-03-23 22:12

    I really enjoy Tom Perrotta's writing style, and this book is no exception. His prose is smooth and easy, the kind of writing that pulls you into the story and makes you forget you're reading a book. I would compare reading Perrotta to watching an engaging movie. He's just an excellent storyteller.That said, I have some issues with his latest, The Abstinence Teacher. The book is about a woman named Ruth, a sex ed teacher in Suburbville, USA, who sparks a controversy by responding to a question by one of her students about oral sex. Her student thinks that oral sex is like kissing a toilet seat. Ruth replies that oral sex is safe and can be made safer with certain devices, and that some people even like it. Well, this sets off the local Christian right and a movement starts that results in the school's adoption of an abstinence-only sex ed program (hence, the title). Needless to say, Ruth doesn't believe in the program, but she's stuck in a tough position.On the other side, the story is also about Tim, a member of the ultra-conservative Tabernacle church, led by religious zealot Pastor Dennis, a former Best Buy employee who found Jesus and then smashed up the store's most expensive merchandise. Tim is a former minor rock musician, alcoholic, and drug addict, and he is recovering now that Pastor Dennis has introduced Jesus into his life. Tim's obvious conflict is between his sinful urges and his desire to lead a Christian life. Is Jesus just another outlet for an addictive personality? You decide.Ruth and Tim come into conflict at a soccer game. Tim coaches the local girls' soccer team, on which both Ruth's daughter and Tim's daughter play. Following one particularly emotional win, and with Ruth in the crowd, Tim sits his team down in a circle and leads them in a prayer of thanks. As you can imagine, Ruth does not take kindly to the decision, and the real path of the story begins from there.Of course, there are a lot of other things going on, too. Perrotta is a master of highlighting the little conflicts that plague everyday families in suburban America, as well as the small victories. And this book was going just great up to the point that Ruth's and Tim's worlds collide.But here comes the major storyline of the novel that I just couldn't buy, and that really messed up a lot of moments for me: Perrotta introduced sexual tension between Tim and Ruth. Wait, what? Ruth just saw this religious nut (the same kind of nut that has cost her her curriculum) leading her daughter in an unsanctioned prayer, and then loudly berated him for doing it, and rightly so. And now you're telling me she wants to sleep with him? Even date him?I don't have kids yet, but I'm only a couple of years away from that point of my life, and I can picture myself in the situation. Here I am, a nice Jewish guy who's raising his kids to be nice Jewish kids. They happen to play for a soccer team coached by a desparately hot woman who happens to be a religious fanatic (as yet unknown to me). At the end of the game, this beauty sits down my kid, MY KID, and leads him/her in a prayer of thanks to Jesus. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm pissed just thinking about it, and I don't care how hot this coach is, I'm certainly not getting over my righteous indignation about her interference with MY CHILD just because she has a great butt. So naturally, when I read that Ruth is having feelings for Tim, and vice versa, well, I'm just not buying what Perrotta's selling. I can see Tim being interested, but reciprocation of that interest doesn't fit the Ruth character that Perrotta had already introduced me to, and that lingering attraction messed up a lot of the story's credibility. It's hard to enjoy a book fully when there's such a major disconnect, and I couldn't help but close this book with a sense of dissatisfaction at how Perrotta chose to lead his main characters.

  • Morgue Anne
    2019-04-04 18:08

    When it comes to my sex life, there’s a lot my parents don’t need to know. They don’t need to know that I was deathly afraid of sex until I was almost 18 – not because of those “abstinence only” education documentaries that made sex seem like a death warrant – but because it was me giving something of myself to someone, letting them have a power over me that I wasn’t entirely comfortable with. They don’t need to know who I lost my virginity to, or what my current boyfriend and I do behind closed doors.There are, however, some things they deserve to know, even if I’m never going to be the one to bring it up. They deserve to know that I am happy with my partner, and, if and when we are sexually active, that I am on the pill, he’s wearing a condom, and I get tested every three months. They deserve to know these things because they are my parents. They love me, and want me to be safe, happy, and not in a situation I will regret later.This is a book about sex. It's one of the better books on the "Abstinence only" education I have read, because it doesn't display everything in black and white. Each side isn't pointing to finger to the other and screaming "They're trying to ruin our children!". Everyone's just scared. The teachers are scared because they aren't allowed to give the students the information they need to be safe, and the parents are scared because they don't want their children to need this information in the first place. The main characters of this story do a fantastic job of portraying this to the reader, but Perrotta also makes a point of showing the negative effects of the "Virginity Consultant" and her "Safe Choices" program for teenagers.Abstinence only education is, as my social psychologist boyfriend would put it, "Empirically verified as ineffective". The information is crap (condoms failing 1/3 of the time, EVERYONE who has sex will get a disease, that hot girl with teh A&F model boyfriend is content in her life without orgasams, etc), the teachers don't believe it and are teaching it to a group of students who, rather then listen, are eyeing that cute girl in the second row. I try not to be forceful with my opinions, but this is something I feel strongly enough about to share. I was fortunate enough to have parents and teachers who gave me the information I needed, and trusted me to be smart about making my own choices. My mother made sure I was covered for birth control on our insurance plan, My teacher told me in confidence that Lover's Package had the cheapest condoms (and the employees were the most knowledgable about which brand was more effective), and the testing once every three months, that was my idea. Because, believe it or not, an 18 year old can make responsible choices about sex. When given the *correct* information.

  • Abigail Hillinger
    2019-03-24 23:01

    Well.I'm rather Tom Perrotta-obsessed. I've been known to babble on about him...over and over and over again.I was really excited for this book to come out. I loved the concept of Ruth, a Human Sexuality teacher, being called into question for something innocent, a casual remark, and how the hyper-Christian population attacked her like she had horns and had the middle name Lucifer. And the connection between Tim, her daughter's born-again soccer coach, and Ruth are great. The scene where Ruth realizes that Tim is praying on after a particularly invigorating game is so well-done.But. And there's a but. It's well-written, because, of course, it's Tom Perrotta and he's wonderful. However, this book was so lackluster compared to his other great books (Little Children! The Wishbones! Election!) that is was almost reminiscent of Joe College, the only book of his that I didn't devour in a single sitting. And it was really disappointing.Maybe I should blame myself. After reading Little Children two years ago, I was already impatient for his newest book to come out. And with the startling way Christianity has dominated our politics, I think it's absolutely necessary for a satirical book to make light of it and show how RIDICULOUS it all can be through every day circumstances. Every day circumstances and satires are, after all, what Tom Perrotta does best.But this book falls flat in several ways. Character development, for example. Ruth was two-dimensional, at best. Sure, she had her moments of fire and anger concerning her curriculum and maybe her daughters (and of course, Tim's choice to pray after games), but then what? There was no depth to her, so different from the female protagonist Sarah in Little Children. And Tim...I understood why Tim had a bigger role in the book than Ruth; it was crucial for the reader to understand how one gets to be a born-again and the doubts/uncertainties that he/she has after the fact. Which, of course, is Tim.The soccer scenes were long and drawn out. I skimmed through them. They reminded me of the ONLY thing I didn't like in Little Children, which were the football games. Maybe it's because I just don't really care about sports and don't really care to READ about sports, but I just turned my brain off during those parts.There were so many things I wanted to see expanded, mostly that I wanted more Ruth. I wanted more Ruth and her daughters. More about her divorce, beyond the fact that she thought her marriage to Frank was always a mistake. I really liked her; it was sad to not see more of her. And what about JoAnn? GOD, would I have loved to see her got some form of comeuppance!The ending suited me just fine. I've read reviews so far where people thought it was blah, not good, and I found the opposite. I enjoyed it a lot.I still really liked the book, despite my observations. It's still Tom Perrotta, and it's still good writing. And I still laughed out loud several times. And I will still probably re-read this book a few times, because that's how I roll.

  • CD
    2019-04-07 23:20

    This book was a recommendation for our book club and I have to say it is one of the only books for that group that I think is poorly written. What I was told I would be reading is a funny book about a clash between the health teacher at a school and the local fundamentalist Christian group. I was expecting a collision of ideas, morality, education, parents v. teachers, community standards. What I got was something else completely. It started off with the health teacher and it seemed to be progressing into something interesting in spite of characters that seemed a bit wooden and more of a caricature (the two gay guys). Then it split off into a story about the soccer coach who is a former rock and roller and former drug addict who is now born again and is trying to be a good Chrisian promise keeper. What was disturbing was the not so subtle contempt that Perrotta has for Christians. On page 82 he describes how the pastor is trying to set him up with one of his young parishoners and says "Unlike most of the single women who worshipped at the Tabernacle, she was young and reasonably cute..." Man. It's little digs like that that tell you he has a huge ax to grind. I have no love lost between me and promise keepers and as a librarian I am fully for banned books and the freedom to read. However, I feel like Perrotta had an opportunity to really portray a community and evoke some controversy and debate and intellectual discussion and he took the easy way out. The easy and slimy way. The book made me feel dirty. The characters were gross, behaved badly and made decisions that overall were disgusting. Ultimately it had nothing to do with the original story. It lost its focus and its moral high ground and nothing can redeem it. I don't recommend this to anyone.

  • Derek Emerson
    2019-04-15 20:55

    This week I read the "New York Times Bestseller," The Abstinence Teacher, by Tom Perrotta. While not liking the book is one thing, hating it is another. I hated this book! I'm actually angry about it and it has been nearly a week since I pushed myself through it in two days. Two days is plenty of time since it would appear it took that long to write (although Perrotta claims two years). What surprises me is my anger. I think, through no fault of his own, it's because this IS a New York Times bestseller. Can we do no better than this? This book is so bad it makes me want to write because I KNOW I can do better -- but I would still be embarrassed to see my name on a novel only "better" than this one.So why do I hate it? Let me count the ways.1) Ruth Ramsey. Ruth is the main the character and the teacher named in the title. I really do not like this person. In fact, she is much of what I do not like about people. Now let me state up front that I do not need to like the character to like the book (see Updike's Rabbit), but I'm not sure why we are subjected to this person. She simply does not grow throughout the book and I doubt her future life will turn out any better. Once the renegade, super-cool sex ed teacher, she is now forced to teach a boring and unrealistic abstinence course after some right-wing Christians (and yes, there are left-wing Christians) sue the school. So she shows up the first day in a slinky outfit to quietly protest this change. This would be humorous if she was 16 years old, but when you hit your 40s, well, grow up! She is a lousy mother more interested in her own life than that of her children, a whiny school teacher and person, and a fierce hater of Christianity possibly due to the right-wing opposition to her sex ed, but that is never clear. Seriously, her children going to church terrifies her and they know it -- she does not support anything they do which she does not also like.2) Poor writing. I should have quit reading at Ruth Ramsey's reflection that in college "she majored in Psychology and minored in Doritos." Are you kidding me? Are there no editors left in the world. Who lets such a stupid line through! Apparently everyone since this book is full of such phrases.3) It's called a plot line -- follow it. Perrotta fills space with plots which begin and are either never resolved or leave us wondering why it was there. So she has a bad sexual encounter with her high school fling 30 years later. Why did we need to know this? What purpose does it serve? Perrotta had already reached the pulp factor in number of pages, so why torment us some more? Ruth Ramsey's daughters are interesting, but we'll never know how much because he primarily uses them as foils for Ruth; he starts a story line with them and just drops them off at the end. On a side note, I'm really wondering how they will handle the mother's final love interest. She is working hard to mess these kids up.4) This will add insight into the culture wars. Maybe this is where my anger really lies. In an interview with Perrotta at the back of my edition he is asked if this book will be a "grenade tossed into the culture wars?" He response includes "That's the part where you just cross your fingers and hope it's gonna happen." (He apparently speaks as well as he writes). I approached the book thinking this would be interesting. Teaching abstinence fails and all the research shows this. Perrotta has grabbed an issue which could make a phenomenal book and completely missed the chance. This book is not about culture wars, it is about some annoying people who have messed up their lives and will likely continue to mess up their lives. The battle over the sex ed is past history in this novel and we just get a quick summary. The woman running the new abstinence push is interesting, but there is no show down except for when Ramsey fails so often she is reassigned (she should be fired -- people like this [stupid:] are dangerous to children and that has nothing to do with her attitudes toward sex). The closest we get to a showdown is when the coaches pray at the end of a soccer game a couple of times. Perrotta even tries to build up the climax (finally, I thought), but then the final praying scene does not even occur in the book. This is about culture wars? Sorry, wrong war.I'll stop here at number four, but I could go on (e.g. stereotypes, excess verbiage) -- I just need to keep this book from wasting more time in my life.So is there anything good about the book? Hmm...Tim Mason is an interesting character and (gasp!) he actually evolves in the book. He is supposed to be other half of the culture war, representing the right wing Christian angle. A recovering addict to several addictions his new found faith offers him some support, but even more guilt. But he is humble in his own way and in the end he is actually honest with himself. It is his humility and honesty which allow him to move forward while all the characters remain in one place.Now I may be alone on this one. The New York Times blurb says "Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America." Time calls him the "Steinbeck of suburbia" (that one really hurts) and nothing less than Entertainment Weekly chimes in by saying this is Perrotta "at his rock star best." I'm willing to go down alone if need be.And by the way, my oldest two are not off the hook for this. My oldest son gave it to my daughter for Christmas (mistake one) and my daughter thought I would like it (mistake two). My son is claiming the whole "I'm just the messenger" line, but anyone promoting this type of literature will need to spend extra time in purgatory. As for my daughter, lover of great classics including Jane Austen, the Bronte sisters, and so many other great works -- what were you thinking! I'm so disappointed. Fortunately, I'm a forgiving person.

  • Maggie
    2019-03-22 23:00

    Perrotta's latest installment uses public school health teachers and suburban soccer moms and dads to examine the war between liberals and evangelicals. For over ten years Ruth Ramsay let her motto of "Pleasure is good, shame is bad, and knowledge is power" guide her teaching of human sexuality; in her classroom no subject was forbidden, but the envelope is eventually pushed too far when, in response to a student's vocal disgust over oral sex, she replies, "some people enjoy it." A student complains and cue the evangelical Christians, who have an amazingly easy time swooping in and getting the sexuality curriculum changed to an "abstinence only" approach - a philosophy that Ruth strongly opposes, yet must still manage to teach. In the aftermath of this controversy, Ruth meets her daughter's soccer coach - a former addict turned born-again evangelical Christian named Tim Mason, who unwittingly creates a huge mess the day he decided to lead his multi-faithed, community soccer team in prayer right before Ruth's very eyes. What follows is the story of an unlikely friendship born from the controversy, and a book that pretty much bored me throughout. I admit that my knowledge of Perrotta's storytelling is limited to film versions of two of his novels (Election, Little Children), but on the power of these two films and reviewers' commentaries I was expecting The Abstinence Teacher to be sharp, witty, mildly satirical, and funny when it needed to be. Instead, the story played a bit like a Lifetime Original Movie, none of the characters were particularly likable, barring one moment that I found mildly amusing it was decidedly unfunny, and I probably would not have finished it if it were not for the sake of this review which I now write. Perhaps I'm being a bit harsh, but in a word - meh. You can do better.

  • Stuart Nachbar
    2019-04-08 23:04

    The Abstinence Teacher Gets an A in My Grade BookTom Perrotta and I have two things in common: New Jersey roots and novels about sex education; his latest work, The Abstinence Teacher is the only other novel, besides my own, The Sex Ed Chronicles, that I have read which covers a subject that is still considered taboo in some social circles.The Abstinence Teacher has two main characters: Ruth Ramsey, a divorcee’ and high school sex educator who makes one inappropriate comment too many, drawing the ire of the evangelical Tabernacle church and its’ hell for leather Pastor Dennis, and Tim Mason, a former stoner and rock n’ roller, also divorced, turned born-again Christian and doting soccer dad. Tim is struggling to stay along the straight and narrow path, as defined for him by the very same evangelical leader who torments Ruth. The descriptions of Ruth and Tim’s mental conflicts are fascinating. They are both searching for self-worth through someone else. Since their divorces, Ruth and Tim’s lives have taken divergent paths, but each believes that they have lost something that one might call faith. They are both close-minded, though Tim’s close-mindedness is manufactured from his relationship with the Tabernacle. It was interesting that Tim likened the fellowship of the Tabernacle to the camaraderie of the rock bands of his youth; both are closed circles that welcome loners who are taught to pity or look down on others who don’t fit in. Tim has tried to embrace a Christian life, though his sexual desires for his ex-wife and unhappiness in his second marriage lead him to doubt his piety. Tim repeatedly returns to Pastor Dennis to reconcile his adopted faith. Tim and Carrie, his second wife, try to find sexual bliss under a church-defined set of rules; the rules for shopping, for instance, try to draw a fine line between naughty and nice.Ruth has lived professionally by the mantra that “pleasure is good, shame is bad and knowledge is power,” however she doubts that her students are listening to her more medically accurate, age appropriate messages. In her private moments, she doubts her own sexuality, wondering if love, or just plain good sex, will elude her for the rest of her life. Her desperation reaches new heights as she seeks an old high school flame through the ‘Net.Ruth and Tim’s paths cross at a soccer game where Tim has asked his team, including Ruth’s daughter Maggie, to join in prayer after a victory. Ruth objects, drawing further wrath from the Tabernacle faithful. Her first clash led her principal and superintendent to institute an abstinence-only sex education course that she lacks the heart to teach. Her second compromises her relationships with her two daughters: Maggie, who wants to continue to play soccer for Tim, and Eliza who uses her mother’s objections to public prayer as a means to consider evangelical fellowship for herself.Unlike my work, The Sex Ed Chronicles, which takes place in 1980, a time before sex education had been adopted in many public schools; Teacher is based in our times. In Chronicles, I was guided by the history and politics of the late 1970’s. Teacher devotes more attention to the culture of fundamentalist Christianity than the art, science and politics of teaching sex education in public schools. In Teacher, sex education is a regular part of the school day.In reading Teacher and Chronicles back to back, I noticed similarities. Both novels position sex educators under the belief that knowledge is power and show that sex education is too important and too difficult a subject to teach poorly in the classroom. I made the same point as an observing news reporter as Perrotta makes by getting inside Ruth Ramsey’s head. In Teacher and Chronicles, the teachers are also asked to swallow some pride. I will only say that Ruth is asked to swallow harder.Chronicles and Teacher share concerns about abstinence-only sex education being something that is watered down and therefore, not taking too seriously—unless it is consistent with the teachings of their family or place of worship. However, sex education outside of the public schools is less consistent from student to student, than inside the classroom—and both sides of the culture wars acknowledge this point. Then the academic questions that come from reading Teacher and Chronicles are who provides the views that will dominate, and not demonize, public school sex education? Which minority view will take center stage in a theatre where parents and students are a silent majority? Will it be activist conservatives (they are not all Christians; Orthodox Jews and Muslims share deep seeded objections to comprehensive sex education) or activist educators perceived to be liberal, or is it more appropriate to say, sexually liberated? And, do students and school administrators really care about the material taught in those classes? There is evidence in Teacher and Chronicles that administrators care mainly about staying out of trouble that comes in the forms of negative press and parental pressures and, that most students will “learn” whatever their school system decides to put in front of them.The Abstinence Teacher made me more concerned for the professional well-being and skin thickness of sex educators who work in settings similar to Ruth. A teacher cannot teach well when forced to suppress their own values to protect faculty colleagues from embarrassment. I likened Ruth Ramsey’s job to managing the late shift at the 24-hour convenience mart, a no-win scenario whenever you lose your cool in head-to-head or eye-to-eye combat.For this reason, as well as Perrotta’s humorous and insightful scenes of sex re-education in our times, The Abstinence Teacher gets high marks in my grade book.

  • Amy
    2019-04-02 22:07

    Perrotta's characters are so interesting. I liked the story and this book was full of surprising little observations and witticisms. My favorite was probably, "She majored in psychology and minored in Doritos." There was also a funny exchange between one of the characters and his teenage daughter, who had chosen Donald Trump for a paper about a man she admired. When he asked why, she said, He's successful," and he answers that that didn't mean he wasn't a bad person. That's funny in today's context. One of my favorite things about Perrotta's writing is that he captures undefinable and unexpected relationships between his characters in a way that mimics real life. He is also skilled at creating subtle sexual tension between his characters, which makes their interactions more weighted and intriguing. A word isn't just a word and neither is a look or a touch. I like life like that.

  • Imogen
    2019-04-04 15:51

    I remembered Jessa from Bookslut going off about this book for a long time, so I was excited to read it, but goodreads, I can't lie to you: it reminds me of the capital letter Literary Fiction I used to write when I was nineteen, and I am NOT proud of that stuff. "I'm going to tell the story from The Enemy's point of view," I'd think, "to show that they are people too." But, I mean, duh. One, there is no enemy, and two, duh! Obviously evangelical Christians are real people. So... I hated the Grateful Dead listenin' ex-drug addict who, I guess, finds salvation and love when he goes back off the wagon? I didn't really believe in the sex ed teacher divorced soccer mom, or in her total caricature, marriage-obsessed gay friends. And if you are going to show that evangelical Christians are real people, you can't have ground zero for their church be a ridiculous deus ex machina like something out of Spawn and then a blacked-out smashing up of a Best Buy. Right? The guy behind the church we're learning about is a cartoon. It's like Mr Perrota decided to talk about Issues and thought he was smart enough that that would carry the book. But none of the details ring true at all- in the part where the married Christians are reading the book about how to have hot Christian sex, and they get to the part about how there's nothing in the bible against cross-dressing? I mean, Mr. Perrota, Deuteronomy 22:5 says it's not okay. Google it? Don't just make shit up? You know who this reminds me of? David Gates. At one point I got a wild hair and read his three books, and liked them, and in retrospect I have no idea why. Upper middle class white dude angst? Band names and song titles? BORING. BO RING. I would give it one star except, y'know, I read the whole thing. Maybe Jessa was talking shit when she was talking about this? I don't remember. OH! BUT! This book did give me the idea to make a time machine, go back in time, and tell my high school self to start a band called SUBURBAN DYSTOPIA. Just 'cause, y'know, that's the two word description of what this book's about, and it would look rad on an amaturishly screen-printed t-shirt.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-04 21:04

    I love Tom Perrotta, and this book was no exception. He writes in such a way that he makes it look easy, when it is anything but. And I love how much depth he finds in characters that other writers might see as simply stereotypes.

  • Maisha Rho
    2019-03-29 14:57

    This book was very difficult for me to read. It was a very mature book and I'm glad that I finished it. It was hard for me to find the main parts of the story because there was three parts of the story. It is about these two people. One is named Ruth and the other one is named Tim. they are both adults and Ruth has been through a terrible divorce and her kids are breaking apart from her. Tim is a recovering drug and alcohol addict and he is recovering with God's help. He is a soccer coach and is trying to figure out his life because he was also divorced and his daughter is inching away from hi too. He prays with his students and that starts controversy with moms and kids. Ruth doesn't believe in that so it starts trouble with her too. Ruth is a sex ed teacher and loses that job because she didn't teach it well so they made her quit and be a math teacher even though she is bad at math. Tim is married again but he still loves his ex who has moved on. At the end of the book, Time and Ruth have a little spark, but it just ends right there. This book was very confusing, an hard to follow through, but I like it. Read it if you would like.

  • Kit
    2019-04-01 16:57

    I'm about halfway through this, and am not loving it. Maybe the ending will pull thigns together (and pull this off). Where I am now: characters are stock characters, so am assuming the point is not character or character development, but some larger point about our culture and its issues about the roles of sexuality and religion.A parent is shocked/distressed that their child's health ed (sex ed) teacher says that some people like oral sex (and, presumably, not so happy that the teachers flips diaphragms around the classroom like tiny frisbees) -- feels that's an abuse of the teacher's authority, that it crosses the line into what the parent should be responsible for teaching her child.Another parent (who just so happens to be that sex ed teacher) is shocked/distressed that her child's soccer coach has the kids join hands and pray (very ecumenically, as best we can tell) after a big game win --- feels that's an abuse of the coach's authority, that it crosses the line into what the parent should be responsible for teaching her child.Sooo..... is there a moment of revelation waiting in the wings for the characters? For us? I don't care much about the characters, actually, so don't feel invested in whether or not they have a revelation moment. And I'm thinking not-so-much for us, because it's so broadly drawn. But will keep reading, just in case.----OK, I finished it. Bleh.Maybe this is a draft of a screenplay? Maybe if you had compelling actors take on these characters, the characters would be more 'real' and more interesting? Maybe if you had a strong editor you could structure the storyline so that it, um, worked? Disappointing. But a fast read, if anyone's got it in his or her tote bag for the beach.....----P.S. Because this bugged me so bad -- but stop reading right now if you don't want anything 'spoilerish' --- I couldn't stand the scene where the health teachers go in for re-indoctrination in the abstinence curriculum. The facilitator tells them to write down their sexual experience they're most ashamed of and then they're supposed to read these aloud to the group.Hello? Wouldn't a group of experienced sex ed teachers know how to just say NO to being 'coerced' into sharing a private experience? Couldn't one of them have gracefully objected to the assignment on the grounds that they see their sex lives as their personal business and not fodder for the abstinence curriculum?

  • Matt
    2019-03-29 20:54

    After LITTLE CHILDREN, this book seems totally light-weight. Definitely not a bad book, but the characters were painted a little too broadly for my tastes (Ruth's gay best friends, for example, or the stereotypical "ms. perfect" abstinence pusher).Perrotta tries his best to present both sides of the religious debate as equally valid, but his heart really isn't in it (not that I blame him). While none of the religious characters come off as complete left-wing stereotypes, none of them come off looking particularly wonderful either... not that the other side (Ruth) ends up looking much better.I think my biggest regret about this book is that we never see the second half of Tim's "growth," so to speak. Tim is by far the most complex and interesting character in the book, and at the exact moment that Tim seems poised to have to deal with all of these issues he's brought up in his life and the results of the decisions he's made, Perrotta slams on the brakes. I just happened to come across this quote from Nick Hornby while reading his blog tonight:"Tom Perrotta, the author of Little Children and Election, has written a very good novel about liberalism versus Christianity entitled ‘The Abstinence Teacher’. It’s funny and convincing and timely, and anyone who is mystified by the state of the States should read it when it’s published here next year. You won’t find any answers, because there aren’t any. But you might end up understanding a little more."I disagree on the "convincing" part, and while I obviously think less of the book than Hornby does, I do think it's worth a read.

  • Sarah
    2019-04-13 22:55

    The story unfolds...It sounds like such a cliche but that truly is the best way to describe this absorbing read. Perrota does an excellent job of reeling the reader in, slowly disclosing background information and details about the main characters, all the while allowing the story to be told. Perrota never hints at his own personal position on the controversial issues raised by this novel (i.e. educating high school students about abstinence, public prayer, Christianity.) Both of the main characters are deeply flawed so there is no clean cut division of good and evil. Instead, the players are wholly believable and human, the issues cloudy and multi-faceted. The story begins slowly, alternating its focus between Ruth and Tim. As the tempo picks up the passages about each character become increasingly brief, almost as though the two are pitted against each other in a boxing ring. Two caveats: First, Perrota is overly fond of the hyphen to the point where I found it distracted my reading of the novel. The second problem is that the story seems to end so abruptly. There is a terrific build-up, a crescendo, then bam! it's over. Huh? This is not to say that some of the loose ends weren't tied up. they were, it is just that the rapid ending did not jive with the style and pacing of the rest of the novel. Overall, engrossing and well-executed.

  • Lindsey Dean
    2019-04-11 22:16

    The only good thing this book had going for it was that it was well written enough that I finished it. But that's about it. Frustrating content and a story that waffled at best and was a yarn ball of loose ends and unfinished sentences and NO climax at worst. Coming to the end, I wish I hadn't bothered.Ugh, no the more I think about it the more annoyed I am at having this clunky, unsatisfying story in my brain.

  • Meggyn
    2019-04-18 17:20

    ZERO stars, abandoned halfway. As a sex-positive feminist and musician in a Christian rock band, I thought the abstinence argument would be an interesting minor conflict in the middle of a fun, silly rom-com. Instead, this book was disgustingly problematic: filled with fat shaming, Islamophobia, women as objects, and sexualization of prepubescent girls by adult men. 200 pages in, my flight finally landed, and this book was no longer my only alternative to mile-high boredom. Book, meet dumpster.

  • Melissa
    2019-03-31 20:02

    I don't know what it is about his books, they start off so well & then they just fall flat at the end.

  • Ethan
    2019-03-23 17:58

    Ruth Ramsey is the Sex Ed teacher at a local high school. She firmly believes that providing kids with a strong knowledge of safe sex practices will result in them coming to mature decisions. Knowledge is power, after all. When the local evangelical church The Tabernacle begins to intervene in the school curriculum, Ruth decides to take a stand. The church is pushing abstinence only education that has been proven not to work. Ruth finds herself facing the decision to follow her values or tow the line and teach something she does not believe in. Tim Mason has been saved. Before joining The Tabernacle, he was a drug addict who abandoned his wife and daughter to get his fix. Since finding religion, he's remarried, joined the church band, and coaches his daughters soccer team. Life is pretty good. When the soccer team pulls off an upset to make their way to the league championships, Tim spontaneously bows his head to offer a prayer with the girls. This seemly innocent gesture turns to controversy when another parent, Ruth Ramsey, takes objection to Tim "pushing his religion" on her daughter.The Abstinence Teacher sees Tom Perrotta explore spirituality, sexuality, and the balance between the two in a family drama that both entertains and inspires. While the novel is rooted firmly in the "modern time" of its publication year (2007), it manages to be surprisingly relevant to discussions that are happening today. It is interesting that 10 years later, we are still debating the ideals of religious freedom and the separation of church and state. Perrotta's writing is, at times, vibrant and compelling. Other times he grows a bit heavy handed, especially when proclaiming the novel's moral takeaways. Despite some shortcomings, The Abstinence Teacher focuses on topics that continue to be worthy of discussion and debate. It won't stand as one of my favorite reads this year, but it did inspire me to reflect on our current political climate.

  • Lorraine
    2019-03-28 14:53

    A friend suggested I read this book and tell her what I thought, because "it's different" and it was. It warrants discussion, because I don't think I can fully appreciate all of it on my own (yet I didn't like it enough to want to reread it). 3 stars because I'm torn between liking it and not liking it.I thought the book would be more focussed on the abstinence teacher's struggles with her sex ed curriculum, but that wasn't really the focus of the book at all. It starts the book off, and produces the most entertaining stories and quips about sexual experiences, but it seems to me that the main protagonist is Tim, the 'saved from drugs and rock'n'roll born-again Christian.' It's his struggles to continue life with the right-winged evangelicals and not fall off the wagon that seemed to take centre stage.I was scared the book would turn out to be Christian fiction at its worst: typical Christian conversion story in which everyone sees the Light (ie God) at the end is on their knees praying for forgiveness. Instead it went the other way and satirized that type of story (I certainly hope the preacher is a parody, because that guy's wacked). Instead, I think, the story suggests that the gung-ho for Jesus life of the Christian fundamentalists is not really effective in changing a person long term. For Tim, it gets him out of his drug addiction, but only replaces the high with a euphoric Jesus glow. When the glow fades, he doesn't know where to go (this is illustrated through Jay). The pastor pushed him into marrying a 'good Christian girl' with the expectation that just because they were both Christians, it would work out. The black and white legalism of the Pastor must also be satirical (or critical), though with an addict temptation is probably more present than others. Tim's past meant he couldn't be near any of his past demons, yet he wasn't really given any forms of entertainment to replace them; it seems inevitable that he would get bored with his new life and slip. Maybe it was more the way the pastor responded to Tim's shortcomings and struggles that was problematic, rather than Tim himself. The book does not reject Christianity completely -- just fundamentalism. It's a liberal Christian novel, maybe? My grounds for A) Christian because: Ruth's girls go to church with the Korean family and there are no negatives put on that development; Tim does seem to be lead by God at the end (though I suppose this could be argued) and he never rejects God -- he doesn't go to the strip club with Jay, and he still prays -- he just rejects the Pastor and admits his marriage failed. B) liberal/left-winged because: the Joann character is made to look dumb and her approach to sex (abstinence) is rejected (the book is not clear in its stance on sexual encounters, though it does suggest people be informed and personally discerning and never really disputes sex ed teacher's motto); the book is clearly unambiguous in its acceptance of homosexuality (maybe the only point it is clear about); a lot of sex stories and presence in the story. I'm not sure why sex is such a big part of the secondary plot -- maybe I'm misreading the book by putting Tim's story as primary and the sex ed teacher's as secondary. There must be a reason for the two plots intersecting, right? In Shakespeare the minor plot is commentary on the major plot, but I can't see how the work together, other than the main characters of the two are connected.I'll have to puzzle over this one longer.

  • Meredith
    2019-04-13 16:50

    I only finished this book because I had already listened to 4.5 of the 9 discs when its potential finally crashed and burned. This novel should be called The Convert or The Convert Awaiting His Chance to Backslide rather than The Abstinence Teacher since the title The Abstinence Teacher misleadingly suggests that the implementation of an "abstinence only" sex education program, its effect on the students, and the battle about the programs in community would be the subject. In interviews the author claimed that this book was an exploration of the culture wars going on in the United States -- the secular population versus fundamentalist Christian sects seeking to legislate their own beliefs -- from the angle of "abstinence only" sex education. That would be very interesting. That is not what this book is about. The plot of this book is the growing uncontrollable animalist urge of the two main characters to have sex with each other despite not liking each, despite one of them being married, and despite their being on opposite sides of the theological fence. The characters are all stereotypical, cliched, flat, and predictable. The two main characters who are supposed to stand for the Left and the Right are disappointingly non-representative of their fractions. Representing secular America is Ruth who is a divorced feminist in her early 40's whose two main preoccupations are lamenting her lack of a sex life and Starbucks coffee. Representing Evangelical America is Tim who is a recovering addict who converted in order to help gain control over his substance abuse problems, who is unhappily married to a good meek Christian woman, and whose inner mental life randomly alternates between hardline fundamental Christian doctrines and irreligious macho male culture. Tim claims to have been a professional musician during his drug addict days, but I don't buy that claim. For all of his reminiscing about playing gigs, he never convinced me that he was more than a weekender or hardcore hobbyist. I didn't buy his conversion either. His attitude and behaviour never supported it. He claims that "prayer is like breathing" for him, but nothing backs up that statement.The author also failed in his attempt to present each side as equally valid. The church members come off as crackpots and the teacher as sex-crazed and pathetic. The story would have been better if the sex ed teacher forced to teach abstinence only sex ed was an ordinary married member for the secular middle-class and the church member pitted against her was a cradle Evangelical leading a typical religious life. Watching their struggle for the best interests of the students would have been interesting. As it is, the curriculum switch to abstinence only occurs at the beginning, and then that theme is basically forgotten in Tim's and Ruth's struggles not to want to have sex with each other and the miserable tedium of their daily lives.

  • Brooke
    2019-04-19 20:59

    Sorry this post took so long! I was driving cross country with the hubs!!I finished The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta a couple of weeks ago, so this review is far from fresh. The basic premise involves a high school sex ed teacher, Ruth, who innocently explains to a student that oral sex can be pleasurable and safe. The Christian conservatives in the town set out on a witch hunt to silence Ruth and implement abstinence only education in the school system. A few weeks later Ruth meets Tim, one of the born again Christians and her daughter’s soccer coach. As Tim is leading the girls in an after game prayer, Ruth rushes the field to remove her daughter from the unsanctioned prayer.The premise is interesting – sex education is a hot topic, especially in small towns across America. Perrotta writes both sides from relatively sympathetic perspectives. Overall, I definitely got a sense the reader is primarily supposed to side with Ruth as the born again Christians often come off as bat shit crazy. Tim, however, was the most honestly drawn character. He’s a recovering alcoholic and addict who has lost his wife and daughter to divorce due to his addictions. The church helps him overcome his struggles with substance abuse, but deep in his heart you know he doesn’t entirely buy what they’re selling. Perhaps he has just replaced one addiction with another?With all that being said, the ending meanders to a pit of nothingness. I have no clue what was supposed to be learned or achieved by any of these characters. The narration just comes to an abrupt halt with no resolution whatsoever. Ruth and Tim are apparently supposed to be attracted to each other – which I wasn’t feeling at all – no chemistry to speak of. Many people are Perrotta fans, but after this novel I can’t include myself in that number. What if all his other books end like this? No thanks.So, the first 2/3 of the story is entertaining only to be destroyed by the final few pages. Read at your own risk.

  • Tony
    2019-03-24 20:52

    This book was well-reviewed by the NY TIMES. Well-reviewed enough that I was convinced that I wanted to read the book, even after finding the film version of LITTLE CHILDREN to be rather uninteresting. I am well aware that films of novels leave a lot to be desired, but the story in LITTLE CHILDREN didn't even make me curious enough about the book to want to read it. I figured that "better than the movie" would still be kinda bad.But, I said, "Yes," to THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER. Perhaps I should not have. The book is not horrible, but, I found the story to be uninteresting and unbelievable. I found the characters relatively likable, and I even found myself empathizing with some of them sometimes. However, I felt like the story wasn't really about what it proclaimed to be about. The title character seems almost secondary once the story gets underway. After a good opening section that sets up a tried and true philosophical conflict, the story switches focus to a recovering addict going through a crisis of faith. As events unfold, a certain unlikely attraction develops between these derelict souls. I imagine, if I put my analysis hat on tight enough, I could develop some real parallels between the two main characters' story lines, and, ultimately, come to understand what it was that the author was trying to communicate (if anything) in the sense of theme, but, I didn't really think I should have to, since the real story turns out to be an old TV plot line that has been mined forever: will they or won't they? Ultimately, my answer to the question became, "I couldn't care less."

  • Cher
    2019-03-23 15:11

    The obvious confrontation in this story is between the Christian's perception of the "godlessness" and the non-Christians who perceive the Christians as zealots who push their beliefs down other's throats. However, religion aside, the bigger point seems to be an overall lack of tolerance for diversity. Aren't we all tempted to justify our own convictions and values? And in doing so, aren't we somewhat blinded to the fact that our adversaries are just doing the same?Each main character can be accused of trying to impose his or her own views on others over both religious and non-religious issues. Ruth is judgmental against prayer on the soccer field and of course is adamantly against teaching the new "Abstinence Only" sexual education course in which JoAnn passionately believes; JoAnn is blinded to the fact that she may be putting students at risk by not supplying enough education as not all kids will follow her advice for abstinence; Pastor Dennis pushes Tim into a marriage with a "nice, submissive, Christian wife" because he thinks Tim needs this to keep him in line--apparently oblivious to the fact that Carrie and Tim are obviously not right for each other. Tim's ex-wife, Allison is determined to impose her parental values on their daughter regardless of, or despite, Tim's feelings or his parental values. Ruth's friend Randall risks his long term relationship over his own emerging desire for Gregory to propose even though they could never legally marry. Religion is the catalyst that is used throughout the story to show how conflict is dealt with; can people reach across a huge religious divide and find common ground without sacrificing their own ideals?

  • Angel Strandjev
    2019-04-08 18:54

    I started this book more of curiosity and certainly I never thought it would be a page-turner. The story revolves around two characters - Ruth Ramsey, an agnostic sex education teacher in a not so conservative northeast US town and Tim Mason, a former rock bassist with a history of drug and alcohol abuse who has recently found Jesus and the way their paths cross. It has all the ingredients of a good book: original story; dynamic, multi-layered characters, controversial subject and a lot of food for thought. Most impressive of all - Tom Perrotta does not take a side, with a surgical precision he gives equal voice and creditability of both the evangelical Christianity and the secular agnostics. No fingers pointed, Perrotta does not draw easy conclusions. And that is the ultimate respect towards the reader. Highly recommended.