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The Abstinence Teacher
     

The Abstinence Teacher

3.5 63
by Tom Perrotta
 

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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

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Abstinence Teacher 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 63 reviews.
shannongesq More than 1 year ago
The book is about a divorced sex-ed teacher who runs up against some evangelical Christians who do not like the way she teaches her class. It's a pitched battle - that she loses. She is forced to teach abstinence. Meanwhile, her daughter plays on a soccer team coached by one of the evangelicals. A former rock band guy who's a recovering addict. He's married to one of the flock and unhappy. He's fighting to stay sober and wondering whether the "Godly" life is truly for him. The main characters intersect and, of course, there is a romantic tension between them. It's not acted upon during the course of the book, but it is there. Overall, I liked the book. I found the ending to be unsatisfying. It wasn't that it left things open. It just seemed like the author got to a point and decided to just stop writing. 20 or so more pages would have not left an impression like he just ran out of gas and left the book on the side of the road as is.
nbNYC More than 1 year ago
I love Tom Perrotta's books. I read one of his short stories in a compilation of Best Short Stories (2005?) edited by Michael Chabon and knew I wanted to read more. I then read Little Children and this book and was not disappointed. Perrotta's writing is elegant and fluid, easy to read, and hilarious. He writes about ordinary people and his descriptions are spot on. We must be around the same age because I found myself laughing out loud at his very specific dated references. I doubt anyone will understand them twenty years from now but for those of us in their forties, it is perfect. His characters are very likable and I couldn't put the book down. I moved on to Joe College which was equally engaging and clever. The unique aspect of Perrotta's work is that his writing seems effortless, easy, light but is actually very sophisticated and often profound.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I like story line, but my problem was the ending of the book. The author, in my opinion, did a very good job with the characters. I really enjoyed Ruth and Tim. I just think he lost his focus towards the end, to me it was as if he was rushed to finish and that was his final product. In other words it climaxed but it tumbled on its way down.
ringoDR More than 1 year ago
Had to slog through a lot to get to a disappointing ending.
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I'm noticing that many of the reviews here emphasize the book's initial "liberal/conservative" premise. But what I think the author is trying to convey is that people are people, no matter what their religous beliefs are. Perrotta does an excellent job, as always, of capturing the essence of humanity and the beauty and intrigue of our imperfections. I've also noticed a few negative reviews stating, "Nothing happened!" I find this to be misleading and innacurate. This is a carefully paced, character-study of a novel that focuses on two individuals, but also humorously and yet accurarely renders several others. If you enjoy realistic depiction of adult relationships, and celebrating the quirks and complications that ensue, then you won't be dissappointed from this or any book written by Tom Perrotta.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an excellent, fun, funny, thought provoking and quick read. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys satiracle social commentary and unbiased insight into faith or lackthereof and sex.
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Another great book from Tom Perrotta. If you like your stories driven by strong characters that seem so real, then this is your book.
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eak321 More than 1 year ago
THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER is the second book I've read by Perrotta (the first being LITTLE CHILDREN. I like his writing style. If there is a writing style, that is. His writing is just very conversational and easy to read. You don't have to put in a lot of effort; he doesn't try to make things unnecessarily over-intellectual. The novel is about a Health/Sex Ed teacher named Ruth who gets in trouble for saying in class that some people enjoy the oral variety. The school then adopts a curriculum of abstinence that she -- obviously -- doesn't agree with. One of the best chapters of the book has to be when Ruth is forced to attend a workshop with other "bad" teachers throughout the school district. It's very well written and humorous. I could have listened to this group discuss their experiences for an entire novel in itself. After reading about a third of the way into the novel about Ruth, it then abruptly switches gears. The main character now becomes Tim, and we see things through his eyes. It was a bit jarring at first, but I understand why Perrotta did this. He wanted to show readers two sides of the story. Tim is a Jesus-lover. But he wasn't always. In his youth, he was a Deadhead. He smoked, he drank, he did drugs, he partied, etc. He was a terrible husband and an even worse father. Then he found God, became a born-again Christian, and turned his life around. After losing his wife and most of his rights to his daughter. Tim isn't an extreme Bible-thumper, though. He's cool with homosexuality and the like. After a long section about Tim (the lesser interesting but possibly more in-depth character), the novel then alternates between Tim's and Ruth's point of view. Their lives intersect when Tim, a soccer coach, has his team pray at a game. Ruth's daughter is on the team and she's not happy with Tim. All in all, THE ABSTINENCE TEACHER was an enjoyable (and easy) read, and I was pleased that Perrotta showed both positive and negative aspects to both Ruth's and Tim's personalities so the subject matter would appeal to a broader audience and not take sides. My only disappointment would be that not much happened in the novel. It was basically "a day in the life." Or, in this case, "a few months in the lives of Ruth and Tim."
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gaylelin More than 1 year ago
In his usual style, Tom Perrotta combines satire with exactly the right amount of compassion to serve up a delightful book. This one is about a woman who teaches health and sex education. Her classes are geared to telling the students the truth and to provide them with advice about protecting themselves. She is divorced and has a daughter. Someone takes offense at something she says regarding masturbation and she is instructed by the administration to attend a workshop in which she will learn to teach abstinence as the only method of protection. She knows this will lead to failure, the human condition being what it is. Meanwhile, a young divorced man who has had problems with addiction is welcomed into the fold of an evangelical church known simply as Tabernacle. The pastor manages to worm his way into all aspects of the man's life to help him be all that he can be for God. This young man has a daughter who plays soccer and he becomes the coach for her team. After an especially grueling game, the coaches join hands with the girls and have a prayer out on the field. The Abstinence teacher goes ballistic and jerks her daughter off the field, telling the coach that it is her right and responsibility to structure her child's religious training (or lack of) and certainly not his. There are other interesting characters including a gay couple, one of whom is also a teacher. In my opinion, the lesson to take away from this is that all things should be done in moderation and common sense, including religion. I loved this book!
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