The Abstinence Teacher

  • by Tom Perrotta
  • Narrated by Campbell Scott
  • 10 hrs and 24 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

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, 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.

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What the Critics Say

"A finely wrought novel." (Booklist)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Same and Better

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.
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- Kelley "Lover of ideas who feels no guilt at all about her pleasures."

Not for everyone!

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.
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- Gypsy Wife "Gypsy Wife"

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-16-2007
  • Publisher: Macmillan Audio