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4 Local Warehouse Literature- A to Z

The Abstinence Teacher

by

The Abstinence Teacher Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise children: it's got good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market. Parents in the town are involved in their children's lives, and often in other children's lives, too — coaching sports, driving carpool, focusing on enriching experiences.

Ruth Ramsey is the high school human sexuality teacher whose openness is not appreciated by all her students — or their parents. Her 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's introduction of Christianity on the playing field horrifies Ruth, while his evangelical church sees a useful target in the loose-lipped sex ed teacher. But when these two adversaries in a small-town culture war actually talk to each other, a surprising friendship begins to develop.

The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern American family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people. It is elegantly and simply written, characterized by the distinctive mix of satire and compassion that has become Perrotta's trademark.

Review:

"'Signature Reviewed by Jennifer Gilmore Tom Perrotta knows his suburbia, and in The Abstinence Teacher he carves out an even larger chunk of his distinct terrain. Set in the northeastern suburb of Stonewood Heights, Perrotta's sixth book takes on the war between the liberals and the evangelists. When single mother Ruth Ramsay, the sex ed teacher at the local high school, tells her class that oral sex can be enjoyable, the Tabernacle of the Gospel Truth church begins its crusade. Believable or not, the school agrees to an abstinence curriculum and in marches JoAnn Marlowe with her blonde hair and pumps to instill in Ruth the tenets of the new program. Gone are the days of rolling a condom over a cucumber; now Ruth is required to promote restraint, which she does wearily and halfheartedly. These are heady days, when students rat out their teachers and the local soccer coach — Ruth's daughter is on his team — is a divorced ex-druggie and active Tabernacle member. When Tim leads the team in prayer, Ruth wrenches her daughter from the circle and the hostility between the opposing camps grows. Who is bad and who is good? Ruth's youthful promiscuity rises slowly to the surface, while Tim's struggle to stay sober makes him constantly confront his past. He's lost his wife and daughter — also on the soccer team — to his addictions, but now he's clean and married to a Tabernacle girl. His Jesus-loving ways, however, are in direct conflict with his desires, rendering him the most complex and likable character. When he loses his own battle with abstinence at a poker party, the finest scene in the novel culminates with his keying 'Jesus' across the hood of an SUV parked in the drive. Ruth would gladly have sex if it would only come her way, and she also drinks on school nights. A less well-drawn complement to Tim, Ruth is a tolerant liberal with a newly toned body who plays therapist to her gay friends, but who can't accept that her children are interested in Jesus.The lesson is that everybody must give up something. Even Ruth's ex-lover, once a pudgy trumpet player, no longer eats to maintain his abs of steel. So what is lost when we cannot succumb to our desires? Who then do we become? The book is rife with Perrotta's subtle and satiric humor (the Tabernacle is seen as a place of diversity, while the punks, Deadheads and headbangers of Tim's past are all predictably the same), but these questions get lost as the plot winds down. Issues of sex and religion that have shaken the town become, in the end, the story of what Ruth and Tim's newly forged relationship will soon become. Jennifer Gilmore is the author of the novel Golden Country, which will be out in paperback in September. ' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Tom Perrotta's new novel sounds like something to get all hot and bothered about. The chemistry is perfect for this master of suburban satire: fundamentalist Christians gettin' down with liberal sex ed. With a hookup like this, there should be fireworks, but for some reason 'The Abstinence Teacher' suffers from a kind of literary erectile dysfunction (LED). It's nothing to worry about, I suppose;... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review)

Review:

"[S]hrewd yet compassionate....Ruefully humorous and tenderly understanding of human folly: the most mature, accomplished work yet from this deservedly bestselling author." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)

Review:

"Perotta focuses on the small, personal motives behind life's big shake-ups. A finely wrought novel that will be in demand." Booklist

Review:

"[A] genial new suburban satire....[Perrotta] resists giving firm answers to the thorny moral questions lurking in his material — which is a relief. (Grade: B+)" Entertainment Weekly

Review:

"As formulaic as this 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..." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Review:

"Perrotta deals with these timely issues by having characters from the different camps forced to confront one another. What results from these civilized exchanges, which feel so human in their complexity and confusion, is a more personal, inside view of how such tensions play out. Recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Perrotta is that rare combination: a satirist with heart....Those who haven't curled up on the couch with this writer's books are missing a very great pleasure." Seattle Times

Review:

"Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America." The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"[I]nsightful, deliciously satirical and ultimately thought-provoking....As the abstinence debate rages on in classrooms across the nation, Mr. Perrotta's book, albeit fiction, does the topic justice." Dallas Morning News

Review:

"Perrotta is a master of unveiling the turmoil that lurks under the placidity of suburban towns. In The Abstinence Teacher he's taken a national issue and shrunk it down to a deeply personal and relevant level." Providence Journal

Synopsis:

Elegantly and simply written, The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people.

Synopsis:

“Perrotta is that rare combination: a satirist with heart….Those who havent curled up on the couch with this writers books are missing a very great pleasure.”—Seattle Times

Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise children: its got good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market.  Parents in the town are involved in their childrens lives, and often in other childrens lives, too—coaching sports, driving carpool, focusing on enriching experiences.  Ruth Ramsey is the high school human sexuality teacher whose openness is not appreciated by all her students—or their parents.  Her daughters soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved.  Tims introduction of Christianity on the playing field horrifies Ruth, while his evangelical church sees a useful target in the loose-lipped sex ed teacher.  But when these two adversaries in a small-town culture war actually talk to each other, a surprising friendship begins to develop.

“Nobody renders the world of soccer moms and sprinklers and SUVs like Perrotta. Hes the Steinbeck of suburbia.”—Time

“Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America.”—The New York Times Book Review (in a front-page review)

The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern American family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people. It is elegantly and simply written, characterized by the distinctive mix of satire and compassion that has become Perrottas trademark.

Synopsis:

“Perrotta is that rare combination: a satirist with heart….Those who havent curled up on the couch with this writers books are missing a very great pleasure.”—Seattle Times

Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise children: its got good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market.  Parents in the town are involved in their childrens lives, and often in other childrens lives, too—coaching sports, driving carpool, focusing on enriching experiences.  Ruth Ramsey is the high school human sexuality teacher whose openness is not appreciated by all her students—or their parents.  Her daughters soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved.  Tims introduction of Christianity on the playing field horrifies Ruth, while his evangelical church sees a useful target in the loose-lipped sex ed teacher.  But when these two adversaries in a small-town culture war actually talk to each other, a surprising friendship begins to develop.

“Nobody renders the world of soccer moms and sprinklers and SUVs like Perrotta. Hes the Steinbeck of suburbia.”—Time

“Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America.”—The New York Times Book Review (in a front-page review)

The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern American family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people. It is elegantly and simply written, characterized by the distinctive mix of satire and compassion that has become Perrottas trademark.

Tom Perrotta is the author of five previous works of fiction: Bad Haircut, The Wishbones, Election, and the New York Times bestsellers Joe College and Little Children.  He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
 
Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise kids. Its got the proverbial good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market. Its the kind of place where parents are involved in their childrens 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.” Ruths younger daughters 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 doesnt approve of Ruths style of teaching. And Ruth in turn doesnt applaud The Tabernacles 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 Perrottas previous novels.

 
The Abstinence Teacher is also available on CD as an unabridged audio book.  Please email academic@macmillan.com for more information.
"As formulaic as this 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."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"As formulaic as this 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."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America . . . Perrottas unmassaged realism runs through all of his writing [and] he gives space and speeches to proselytizers and scoffers alike, letting readers form their own conclusions.”—Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review

“With abstinence programs and disputes over what can be taught in schools regularly making the front page, The Abstinence Teacher hits on prominent social fault lines. This has become something of a hallmark for Mr. Perrotta, who has developed a knack for combining hot-button cultural themes with flawed and complicated characters . . . While his stories bear the sheen of satire, they are actually sharp though compassionate investigations of human relationships. They can also be very funny.”—Motoka Rich, The New York Times

“Abstinence is really a gateway for Mr. Perrotta to tell a much bigger and more complex story about religious identity in America . . . [A] deeply moving story of a man and a woman who see each other on opposite sides of a religious divide.”—The Wall Street Journal

The Abstinence Teacher is certainly Perrottas most sensitive novel . . . tender, witty, and wise.”—The Washington Post Book World

“Perrottas balance of humor and pathos has no equal; hes naughty and nice . . . he brings this world to life with a few strokes. He never condescends to modern suburbia—instead he mucks around its corners, opens closets, and reveals oddball secrets.”—Los Angeles Times

“Eloquently written, Perrotta hits a chord by giving readers a riveting look at the angst and sexual tension that can polarize people as they struggle to weigh their personal wants with societal standards . . . Perrotta weaves a masterful satire that is sure to make readers stop and think.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“Undeniable power . . . Perrotta—like satirists since ancient Rome—attacks excess, hypocrisy, and intolerance wherever he finds them . . . His two souls, lost in confusion, reach out in the darkness. What they find surprises them both.”—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

“Perrotta spins another perceptive take on modern life with this strong novel . . . Perrottas observations are at all times unsparing.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“What keeps the book from getting too heavy-handed, besides the sharply written humor, is the fact that Perrotta makes his evangelical Christian protagonist less of a zealot than the atheist . . . his characters are older and have had the shine rubbed off them. As a result, theyre ultimately more satisfying to be around.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“Fifty years after John Cheever turned a comic eye toward New Englands Wapshot Clan, Tom Perrotta reigns as a mischievous bard of the burbs for the twenty-first century . . . Perrotta is an acute observer of social mores among the affluent middle class.”—USA Today

“In his timely suburban satire, Tom Perrotta implores: Lets talk about sex . . . education. He resists giving firm answers to the thorny moral questions lurking in his material.”—Entertainment Weekly

“For Tom Perrotta, suburbia is a place in which the rift between red and blue states is enacted on a single verdant, erotically charged battlefield . . . Perrotta finds entertainingly scabrous material in this setup.”—Vogue

“The comic tone is there in numerous laugh-out-loud moments, but Perrottas writing displays wisdom, too . . . His books combine profound ideas and readability in a way not often seen.”—The Vancouver Sun

“Over the course of five novels and a collection of short stories, Tom Perrotta has laid claim to the prime real estate of upwardly mobile suburbia, hilariously probing its leafy, soccer-obsessed, McMansion-lined streets . . . [G]enerous, amusing, shocking, thought provoking, and more than a little familiar.”—The Miami Herald

“A startlingly relevant and stunningly perceptive examination of the evangelical takeover of American exurbia . . . a hilarious and tender story about faith, divorce, and parenthood that also manages to contain our panoramic drama in miniature.”—Mens Vogue

“Perrotta, as always, is deft and sure with his satire . . . [he] still manages the incipient romance with charm and humor.”—Daily News

“The novel is wicked and witty yet infused with compassion for the characters.”—The Columbus Dispatch

“Perrotta, who proved himself adept at reconciling dichotomies in the smart novel Election and Little Children, its deeper, darker successor, gets this unlikely couple together with maximum intelligence, minimum melodrama, and a sharp, funny sense of irony . . . Its also very tartly written.”—The Denver Post

"Perrotta is that rare combination: a satirist with heart."—The Seattle Times

"Nobody renders the world of soccer moms and sprinklers and SUVs like Perrotta.  He's the Steinbeck of Suburbia."—Time

"Sex education, soccer and Christian fundamentalism make strange bedfellows in Perrotta's shrewd yet compassionate fifth novel. Neither as dark as Little Children nor as scathingly funny as Election, like them it displays the author's wide-ranging empathy. Readers will certainly sympathize with Ruth Ramsey, the high-school teacher whose unwary response to a provocative classroom question about oral sex leads to her being saddled with a not-so-covertly Christian sex-ed curriculum. But Perrotta encourages us to respect all his characters, including the ones who belong to the Tabernacle of the Gospel Truth, source of the threatened lawsuit that's forced Ruth to tout the joys of abstinence. Among the believers is Tim Mason, a former rock musician and substance abuser who cleaned up with the help of the Tabernacle's Pastor Dennis, both a warm, nurturing shepherd to his flock and an unforgiving purveyor of hard-line doctrine. Ruth's older daughter Maggie plays on the soccer team Tim coaches, and she's outraged when he spontaneously leads them in a prayer after a hard-fought victory. That's about all the plot there is, as Ruth attempts to recruit other parents for a letter of protest and discovers that even in the affluent Northeastern suburb of Stonewood Heights the Christian right is a force to be reckoned with. Tim is beginning to have his doubts about his faith and especially about his marriage to Carrie, a sweet, much-younger woman who can't eradicate either his lustful memories of his ex-wife or his burgeoning attraction to Ruth. Perrotta makes gentle fun of Carrie dutifully leafing through a copy of Hot Christian Sex: The Godly Way to Spice Up Your Marriage, but also of Ruth's gay pal Gregory making elaborate dioramas of Parisian cafes featuring French Resistance Fighter G.I. Joes clad in black turtlenecks and berets. Confusion and regret are as much the subjects here as religious controversy. Ruefully humorous and tenderly understanding of human folly: the most mature, accomplished work yet from this deservedly bestselling author."—Kirkus Reviews

"Evangelical Christians and proponents of sex education (other than abstinence) usually don't see eye to eye, which certainly holds true in this novel . . . Ruth Ramsey is a tenured teacher who happily and quite successfully teaches sex ed to students at the Stonewood Heights high school. She firmly believes in providing kids with frank yet solid information so that they can make good choices. Ruth is also the divorced parent of two daughters, one a talented and avid soccer player. It is at a Saturday game that Ruth meets Tim Mason, a member of the Tabernacle, a local evangelical Christian church. This particular congregation has already had some run-ins with Ruth over her teaching methods, and Ruth is concerned when she discovers Tim leading the girls in prayer after a particularly exhilarating game. Perrotta deals with these timely issues by having characters from the different camps forced to confront one another. What results from these civilized exchanges, which feel so human in their complexity and confusion, is a more personal, inside view of how such tensions play out. Recommended for most collections and especially for Perrotta fans."—Robin Nesbitt, Library Journal

“Tom Perrotta knows his suburbia, and in The Abstinence Teacher he carves out an even larger chunk of his distinct terrain. Set in the northeastern suburb of Stonewood Heights, Perrotta's sixth book takes on the war between the liberals and the evangelists. When single mother Ruth Ramsay, the sex ed teacher at the local high school, tells her class that oral sex can be enjoyable, the Tabernacle of the Gospel Truth church begins its crusade. Believable or not, the school agrees to an abstinence curriculum and in marches JoAnn Marlowe with her blonde hair and pumps to instill in Ruth the tenets of the new program. Gone are the days of rolling a condom over a cucumber; now Ruth is required to promote restraint, which she does wearily and halfheartedly. These are heady days, when students rat out their teachers and the local soccer coach—Ruth's daughter is on his team—is a divorced ex-druggie and active Tabernacle member. When Tim leads the team in prayer, Ruth wrenches her daughter from the circle and the hostility between the opposing camps grows. Who is bad and who is good? Ruth's youthful promiscuity rises slowly to the surface, while Tim's struggle to stay sober makes him constantly confront his past. He's lost his wife and daughter—also on the soccer team—to his addictions, but now he's clean and married to a Tabernacle girl. His Jesus-loving ways, however, are in direct conflict with his desires, rendering him the most complex and likable character. When he loses his own battle with abstinence at a poker party, the finest scene in the novel culminates with his keying Jesus across the hood of an SUV parked in the drive . . . The book is rife with Perrotta's subtle and satiric humor . . . Issues of sex and religion that have shaken the town become, in the end, the story of what Ruth and Tim's newly forged relationship will soon become.”—Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Tom Perrotta is the author of five previous works of fiction: Bad Haircut, The Wishbones, Election, and the New York Times bestsellers Joe College and Little Children. Election was made into the acclaimed movie directed by Alexander Payne and starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. Perrotta was nominated for an Academy Award for the screenplay for the movie version of Little Children, which was directed by Todd Field and starred Kate Winslet and Jennifer Connelly. Perrotta lives with his family outside Boston, Massachusetts.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780312363543
Author:
Perrotta, Tom
Publisher:
Griffin
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
General
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Domestic fiction
Subject:
Suburban life
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Series:
Reading Group Gold
Publication Date:
September 2, 2008
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.29 x 5.48 x 1 in

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The Abstinence Teacher Used Trade Paper
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Product details 384 pages St. Martin's Griffin - English 9780312363543 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "'Signature Reviewed by Jennifer Gilmore Tom Perrotta knows his suburbia, and in The Abstinence Teacher he carves out an even larger chunk of his distinct terrain. Set in the northeastern suburb of Stonewood Heights, Perrotta's sixth book takes on the war between the liberals and the evangelists. When single mother Ruth Ramsay, the sex ed teacher at the local high school, tells her class that oral sex can be enjoyable, the Tabernacle of the Gospel Truth church begins its crusade. Believable or not, the school agrees to an abstinence curriculum and in marches JoAnn Marlowe with her blonde hair and pumps to instill in Ruth the tenets of the new program. Gone are the days of rolling a condom over a cucumber; now Ruth is required to promote restraint, which she does wearily and halfheartedly. These are heady days, when students rat out their teachers and the local soccer coach — Ruth's daughter is on his team — is a divorced ex-druggie and active Tabernacle member. When Tim leads the team in prayer, Ruth wrenches her daughter from the circle and the hostility between the opposing camps grows. Who is bad and who is good? Ruth's youthful promiscuity rises slowly to the surface, while Tim's struggle to stay sober makes him constantly confront his past. He's lost his wife and daughter — also on the soccer team — to his addictions, but now he's clean and married to a Tabernacle girl. His Jesus-loving ways, however, are in direct conflict with his desires, rendering him the most complex and likable character. When he loses his own battle with abstinence at a poker party, the finest scene in the novel culminates with his keying 'Jesus' across the hood of an SUV parked in the drive. Ruth would gladly have sex if it would only come her way, and she also drinks on school nights. A less well-drawn complement to Tim, Ruth is a tolerant liberal with a newly toned body who plays therapist to her gay friends, but who can't accept that her children are interested in Jesus.The lesson is that everybody must give up something. Even Ruth's ex-lover, once a pudgy trumpet player, no longer eats to maintain his abs of steel. So what is lost when we cannot succumb to our desires? Who then do we become? The book is rife with Perrotta's subtle and satiric humor (the Tabernacle is seen as a place of diversity, while the punks, Deadheads and headbangers of Tim's past are all predictably the same), but these questions get lost as the plot winds down. Issues of sex and religion that have shaken the town become, in the end, the story of what Ruth and Tim's newly forged relationship will soon become. Jennifer Gilmore is the author of the novel Golden Country, which will be out in paperback in September. ' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "[S]hrewd yet compassionate....Ruefully humorous and tenderly understanding of human folly: the most mature, accomplished work yet from this deservedly bestselling author."
"Review" by , "Perotta focuses on the small, personal motives behind life's big shake-ups. A finely wrought novel that will be in demand."
"Review" by , "[A] genial new suburban satire....[Perrotta] resists giving firm answers to the thorny moral questions lurking in his material — which is a relief. (Grade: B+)"
"Review" by , "As formulaic as this 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..."
"Review" by , "Perrotta deals with these timely issues by having characters from the different camps forced to confront one another. What results from these civilized exchanges, which feel so human in their complexity and confusion, is a more personal, inside view of how such tensions play out. Recommended."
"Review" by , "Perrotta is that rare combination: a satirist with heart....Those who haven't curled up on the couch with this writer's books are missing a very great pleasure."
"Review" by , "Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America."
"Review" by , "[I]nsightful, deliciously satirical and ultimately thought-provoking....As the abstinence debate rages on in classrooms across the nation, Mr. Perrotta's book, albeit fiction, does the topic justice."
"Review" by , "Perrotta is a master of unveiling the turmoil that lurks under the placidity of suburban towns. In The Abstinence Teacher he's taken a national issue and shrunk it down to a deeply personal and relevant level."
"Synopsis" by , Elegantly and simply written, The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people.
"Synopsis" by ,

“Perrotta is that rare combination: a satirist with heart….Those who havent curled up on the couch with this writers books are missing a very great pleasure.”—Seattle Times

Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise children: its got good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market.  Parents in the town are involved in their childrens lives, and often in other childrens lives, too—coaching sports, driving carpool, focusing on enriching experiences.  Ruth Ramsey is the high school human sexuality teacher whose openness is not appreciated by all her students—or their parents.  Her daughters soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved.  Tims introduction of Christianity on the playing field horrifies Ruth, while his evangelical church sees a useful target in the loose-lipped sex ed teacher.  But when these two adversaries in a small-town culture war actually talk to each other, a surprising friendship begins to develop.

“Nobody renders the world of soccer moms and sprinklers and SUVs like Perrotta. Hes the Steinbeck of suburbia.”—Time

“Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America.”—The New York Times Book Review (in a front-page review)

The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern American family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people. It is elegantly and simply written, characterized by the distinctive mix of satire and compassion that has become Perrottas trademark.

"Synopsis" by ,

“Perrotta is that rare combination: a satirist with heart….Those who havent curled up on the couch with this writers books are missing a very great pleasure.”—Seattle Times

Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise children: its got good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market.  Parents in the town are involved in their childrens lives, and often in other childrens lives, too—coaching sports, driving carpool, focusing on enriching experiences.  Ruth Ramsey is the high school human sexuality teacher whose openness is not appreciated by all her students—or their parents.  Her daughters soccer coach is Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved.  Tims introduction of Christianity on the playing field horrifies Ruth, while his evangelical church sees a useful target in the loose-lipped sex ed teacher.  But when these two adversaries in a small-town culture war actually talk to each other, a surprising friendship begins to develop.

“Nobody renders the world of soccer moms and sprinklers and SUVs like Perrotta. Hes the Steinbeck of suburbia.”—Time

“Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America.”—The New York Times Book Review (in a front-page review)

The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern American family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people. It is elegantly and simply written, characterized by the distinctive mix of satire and compassion that has become Perrottas trademark.

Tom Perrotta is the author of five previous works of fiction: Bad Haircut, The Wishbones, Election, and the New York Times bestsellers Joe College and Little Children.  He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
 
Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise kids. Its got the proverbial good schools, solid values and a healthy real estate market. Its the kind of place where parents are involved in their childrens 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.” Ruths younger daughters 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 doesnt approve of Ruths style of teaching. And Ruth in turn doesnt applaud The Tabernacles 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 Perrottas previous novels.

 
The Abstinence Teacher is also available on CD as an unabridged audio book.  Please email academic@macmillan.com for more information.
"As formulaic as this 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."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"As formulaic as this 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."—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

“Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America . . . Perrottas unmassaged realism runs through all of his writing [and] he gives space and speeches to proselytizers and scoffers alike, letting readers form their own conclusions.”—Liesl Schillinger, The New York Times Book Review

“With abstinence programs and disputes over what can be taught in schools regularly making the front page, The Abstinence Teacher hits on prominent social fault lines. This has become something of a hallmark for Mr. Perrotta, who has developed a knack for combining hot-button cultural themes with flawed and complicated characters . . . While his stories bear the sheen of satire, they are actually sharp though compassionate investigations of human relationships. They can also be very funny.”—Motoka Rich, The New York Times

“Abstinence is really a gateway for Mr. Perrotta to tell a much bigger and more complex story about religious identity in America . . . [A] deeply moving story of a man and a woman who see each other on opposite sides of a religious divide.”—The Wall Street Journal

The Abstinence Teacher is certainly Perrottas most sensitive novel . . . tender, witty, and wise.”—The Washington Post Book World

“Perrottas balance of humor and pathos has no equal; hes naughty and nice . . . he brings this world to life with a few strokes. He never condescends to modern suburbia—instead he mucks around its corners, opens closets, and reveals oddball secrets.”—Los Angeles Times

“Eloquently written, Perrotta hits a chord by giving readers a riveting look at the angst and sexual tension that can polarize people as they struggle to weigh their personal wants with societal standards . . . Perrotta weaves a masterful satire that is sure to make readers stop and think.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“Undeniable power . . . Perrotta—like satirists since ancient Rome—attacks excess, hypocrisy, and intolerance wherever he finds them . . . His two souls, lost in confusion, reach out in the darkness. What they find surprises them both.”—The Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

“Perrotta spins another perceptive take on modern life with this strong novel . . . Perrottas observations are at all times unsparing.”—Seattle Post-Intelligencer

“What keeps the book from getting too heavy-handed, besides the sharply written humor, is the fact that Perrotta makes his evangelical Christian protagonist less of a zealot than the atheist . . . his characters are older and have had the shine rubbed off them. As a result, theyre ultimately more satisfying to be around.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“Fifty years after John Cheever turned a comic eye toward New Englands Wapshot Clan, Tom Perrotta reigns as a mischievous bard of the burbs for the twenty-first century . . . Perrotta is an acute observer of social mores among the affluent middle class.”—USA Today

“In his timely suburban satire, Tom Perrotta implores: Lets talk about sex . . . education. He resists giving firm answers to the thorny moral questions lurking in his material.”—Entertainment Weekly

“For Tom Perrotta, suburbia is a place in which the rift between red and blue states is enacted on a single verdant, erotically charged battlefield . . . Perrotta finds entertainingly scabrous material in this setup.”—Vogue

“The comic tone is there in numerous laugh-out-loud moments, but Perrottas writing displays wisdom, too . . . His books combine profound ideas and readability in a way not often seen.”—The Vancouver Sun

“Over the course of five novels and a collection of short stories, Tom Perrotta has laid claim to the prime real estate of upwardly mobile suburbia, hilariously probing its leafy, soccer-obsessed, McMansion-lined streets . . . [G]enerous, amusing, shocking, thought provoking, and more than a little familiar.”—The Miami Herald

“A startlingly relevant and stunningly perceptive examination of the evangelical takeover of American exurbia . . . a hilarious and tender story about faith, divorce, and parenthood that also manages to contain our panoramic drama in miniature.”—Mens Vogue

“Perrotta, as always, is deft and sure with his satire . . . [he] still manages the incipient romance with charm and humor.”—Daily News

“The novel is wicked and witty yet infused with compassion for the characters.”—The Columbus Dispatch

“Perrotta, who proved himself adept at reconciling dichotomies in the smart novel Election and Little Children, its deeper, darker successor, gets this unlikely couple together with maximum intelligence, minimum melodrama, and a sharp, funny sense of irony . . . Its also very tartly written.”—The Denver Post

"Perrotta is that rare combination: a satirist with heart."—The Seattle Times

"Nobody renders the world of soccer moms and sprinklers and SUVs like Perrotta.  He's the Steinbeck of Suburbia."—Time

"Sex education, soccer and Christian fundamentalism make strange bedfellows in Perrotta's shrewd yet compassionate fifth novel. Neither as dark as Little Children nor as scathingly funny as Election, like them it displays the author's wide-ranging empathy. Readers will certainly sympathize with Ruth Ramsey, the high-school teacher whose unwary response to a provocative classroom question about oral sex leads to her being saddled with a not-so-covertly Christian sex-ed curriculum. But Perrotta encourages us to respect all his characters, including the ones who belong to the Tabernacle of the Gospel Truth, source of the threatened lawsuit that's forced Ruth to tout the joys of abstinence. Among the believers is Tim Mason, a former rock musician and substance abuser who cleaned up with the help of the Tabernacle's Pastor Dennis, both a warm, nurturing shepherd to his flock and an unforgiving purveyor of hard-line doctrine. Ruth's older daughter Maggie plays on the soccer team Tim coaches, and she's outraged when he spontaneously leads them in a prayer after a hard-fought victory. That's about all the plot there is, as Ruth attempts to recruit other parents for a letter of protest and discovers that even in the affluent Northeastern suburb of Stonewood Heights the Christian right is a force to be reckoned with. Tim is beginning to have his doubts about his faith and especially about his marriage to Carrie, a sweet, much-younger woman who can't eradicate either his lustful memories of his ex-wife or his burgeoning attraction to Ruth. Perrotta makes gentle fun of Carrie dutifully leafing through a copy of Hot Christian Sex: The Godly Way to Spice Up Your Marriage, but also of Ruth's gay pal Gregory making elaborate dioramas of Parisian cafes featuring French Resistance Fighter G.I. Joes clad in black turtlenecks and berets. Confusion and regret are as much the subjects here as religious controversy. Ruefully humorous and tenderly understanding of human folly: the most mature, accomplished work yet from this deservedly bestselling author."—Kirkus Reviews

"Evangelical Christians and proponents of sex education (other than abstinence) usually don't see eye to eye, which certainly holds true in this novel . . . Ruth Ramsey is a tenured teacher who happily and quite successfully teaches sex ed to students at the Stonewood Heights high school. She firmly believes in providing kids with frank yet solid information so that they can make good choices. Ruth is also the divorced parent of two daughters, one a talented and avid soccer player. It is at a Saturday game that Ruth meets Tim Mason, a member of the Tabernacle, a local evangelical Christian church. This particular congregation has already had some run-ins with Ruth over her teaching methods, and Ruth is concerned when she discovers Tim leading the girls in prayer after a particularly exhilarating game. Perrotta deals with these timely issues by having characters from the different camps forced to confront one another. What results from these civilized exchanges, which feel so human in their complexity and confusion, is a more personal, inside view of how such tensions play out. Recommended for most collections and especially for Perrotta fans."—Robin Nesbitt, Library Journal

“Tom Perrotta knows his suburbia, and in The Abstinence Teacher he carves out an even larger chunk of his distinct terrain. Set in the northeastern suburb of Stonewood Heights, Perrotta's sixth book takes on the war between the liberals and the evangelists. When single mother Ruth Ramsay, the sex ed teacher at the local high school, tells her class that oral sex can be enjoyable, the Tabernacle of the Gospel Truth church begins its crusade. Believable or not, the school agrees to an abstinence curriculum and in marches JoAnn Marlowe with her blonde hair and pumps to instill in Ruth the tenets of the new program. Gone are the days of rolling a condom over a cucumber; now Ruth is required to promote restraint, which she does wearily and halfheartedly. These are heady days, when students rat out their teachers and the local soccer coach—Ruth's daughter is on his team—is a divorced ex-druggie and active Tabernacle member. When Tim leads the team in prayer, Ruth wrenches her daughter from the circle and the hostility between the opposing camps grows. Who is bad and who is good? Ruth's youthful promiscuity rises slowly to the surface, while Tim's struggle to stay sober makes him constantly confront his past. He's lost his wife and daughter—also on the soccer team—to his addictions, but now he's clean and married to a Tabernacle girl. His Jesus-loving ways, however, are in direct conflict with his desires, rendering him the most complex and likable character. When he loses his own battle with abstinence at a poker party, the finest scene in the novel culminates with his keying Jesus across the hood of an SUV parked in the drive . . . The book is rife with Perrotta's subtle and satiric humor . . . Issues of sex and religion that have shaken the town become, in the end, the story of what Ruth and Tim's newly forged relationship will soon become.”—Publishers Weekly

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