The Abstinence Teacher

Thoughts tatbytp by Tom Perotta, St. Martin’s Griffin, 358 pages


Challenge: What’s in a Name 9 : Employment Category
Genre: Contemporary Lit
Type/Source: Tradeback / Used Books Shelf at Indie Store

MOTIVATION for READING:  I mistakenly thought this author was from Nebraska. I had him confused with the guy who made the movie Election. Perotta wrote the book that inspired the movie Election but Alexander Payne adapted the screenplay and directed the 1999 film with Mathew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon. Why do I care? I am sure there are plenty of authors from Nebraska but that is always what Perotta reminds me of and now I really don’t have any reason to! Odd, what our brain attaches and jumps to and reminds us of…

WHAT’s it ABOUT:A sexual health teacher has fundamentalist Christians move to town and not be too happy with the what of what she teaches. So she ‘gets’ to teach abstinence to High Schoolers to keep her job. Meanwhile, a former drug addict rock music guitar player finds Jesus and coaches the health teacher’s daughter’s soccer team. There are sparks…

WHAT’s GOOD:I felt Perotta did a mostly good job balancing the viewpoints without bias but it still felt detached. I don’t think this is fair of me because it is difficult to write about a subject when you have opinions one way or the other, but I felt him being careful. I know these fundamentalist types and he wasn’t wrong and I can’t accuse him of portraying them inauthentically. But something didn’t convince me – of either side, really. The teacher also was rather rigid in her thoughts and I found myself not liking her. The soccer coach actually had growth. Not a better but more accurate title: The Born-Again Addict.

What’s NOT so good: The more time away from this book, the less I liked it and question the point. Was it hypocrisy? Was it “be careful what you believe it cuz someone somewhere will knock your feet out from under you?” I dunno.

FINAL THOUGHTS: For a book that seemed to attempt a showing of both sides of an issue in a fair and unbiased manner, it definitely had liberal-leaning tendencies. I struggle with wondering what was the moral.

Shall I just suggest that this is not Perotta’s strongest book? He’s a good writer and he had excellent character development; plot progression and pace were fine. I think I will give him another chance or two. I will read Election next.

RATING: Three slices of pie. No pie mentioned that I noticed.




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7 thoughts on “The Abstinence Teacher

  1. Hahahaha oh God I hated Election (the movie version). It’s exactly the kind of satire that makes me claim not to like satire. It felt mean-spirited towards Reese Witherspoon, and it totally bummed me out. I feel like I maybe did not watch it in the correct spirit? Or expected it to be something other than what it was? I dunno — it’s my friend’s favorite movie, she talks about it all the time, and I do not feel like I fully got it.

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