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.
©2007 Tom Perrotta; (P)2007 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC
"A finely wrought novel." (Booklist)
I honestly write these reviews in a spirit of sharing and helpfulness. I have no idea why I always end up sounding so snotty...
If you've read "Little Children" you'll recognize both the form and the content of this book -- but we can forgive the safety of repetition (or the obsessiveness of it) when the works become fuller and truer as they go. And this one does.
If you are ambivalent (or negative) about religion, you'll find the story scratches your itch nicely without being so insulting to the practice that you feel guilty about feeling good. It comes close or course, but Perrota cleverly side steps any sense of lynching by making all of his characters (pro and anti) equally imperfect and tricky to love.
Also Campbell Scott's voice is a huge turn on.
This is a story that is not for everyone. It's well written and I liked how the characters interacted, influenced one another, and evolved. But the parts dealing with the ultra-conservative religious folks were sheer torture for me. And the narrator's voice is so soft and monotoned as to evoke drowsiness. I would have liked a narrator with more variety of tone and voice.
I found this book pointless. The story went nowhere. The characters were unsympathetic and one dimensional. Not one of them was likeable. I suppose it did have something going for it because I did listen all the way to the end. I hoped the author was "going somewhere" with the story. I was wrong. My reaction to this audio offering when it ended was, "well, there is 10 plus hours I'll never get back"! Definitely NOT credit worthy
I thought this book would be interesting contrast between characters with different values. There was minimal development of the characters. The ending was sudden, and left me unsatisfied. Not what I expected.
Campbell Scott is a wonderful, subtle, intelligent actor. He alters his voice just enough to bring the characters alive, without ever overdoing it. I loved the novel, but I think Mr Scott is an inspired actor/reader
The book kept me interested the entire time because I was hoping the characters' lives would improve. However, the book stopped suddenly and the characters are worse off at the end than the beginning. I will never do Perrotta again because the end left me feeling like I had wasted my time.
Two adults struggling with their respective beliefs: The sober drug addict Tim doubts his savior, Jesus, and down to earth, single-mom Ruth is confronted with her teenage daughter's interest in religion and church. Current non-liberal religious tendencies in North America are displayed as well as the typical suburban life.
Perrotta avoids any judgement. He uses a flashlight instead of putting this sensitive subject in the limelight. This approach makes it an easy read. Supporting characters are sometimes cliched but the main characters are well developed and likable.
The reader for this audio book is appalling, but the book itself is very good. I read it once before, but I wanted the audio for gym and house cleaning use. I would recommend the book, but definitely not the audio edition.
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