Sunday, January 3, 2010

Table of Contents: The Abstinence Teacher

Author: Tom Perrotta
Publisher/Year: St Martin's Press, 2007
Synopsis: Ruth Ramsey is a divorced single mother teaching human sexuality in a Northeastern high school. When she makes a favorable comment about sexual pleasure in class, a girl in the class who belongs to the ultra-conservative Christian church in town is offended and her family complains to school officials. The school apologizes for any offensive comments Ruth might have made and changes the curriculum of her class. When Ruth's daughter's soccer coach, Tim Mason, a former drug user and alcoholic who also belongs to the church, instructs the girls to pray after a victory, Ruth is furious. At the same time, she finds herself attracted to the coach. The attraction is mutual and shakes up both of their worlds.

What Others Have To Say:

The New York Times
"As formulaic as [the] plot might sound, Mr. Perrotta uses it not to construct a conventional screwball romance but to create a sad-funny-touching story that looks at the frustrations and perils of life in suburbia through darkly tinted, not rose-colored glasses"

Entertainment Weekly
"Perrotta leaves the fate of these sweet, baffled characters hanging, which is a disappointment. But he resists giving firm answers to the thorny moral questions lurking in his material — which is a relief."

The Washington Post
"[T]he novel lacks the necessary element of passion. It practices a strange kind of abstinence: a failure to consummate its satiric drive."

USA Today
"For a novel that is really about sex, not abstinence, Teacher gets a C-plus for sizzle. But it does earn an A for funny."

A Writer's Search for the Sex in Abstinence
Q&A with Tom Perrotta

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