Book Reviews of The Abstinence Teacher

The Abstinence Teacher
The Abstinence Teacher
Author: Tom Perrotta
ISBN-13: 9780312358334
ISBN-10: 0312358334
Publication Date: 10/16/2007
Pages: 336
Rating:
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 117

3.3 stars, based on 117 ratings
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Book Type: Hardcover
Reviews: Amazon | Write a Review

41 Book Reviews submitted by our Members...sorted by voted most helpful

reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 234 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 7
The book was well written, and like Jodi Picoult's books, the reader may find themselves siding with characters that may not possess the same values as themselves. However with that said, I was very disappointed in the ending. I felt it just dropped off after a big work up to it.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 82 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
This book was on my wish list for over a year. It ended up being a disappointment. As another reviewer already mentioned, it ends kind of mid-action, with no resolution whatsoever to the conflict. I wasn't impressed by either of the main characters, who both seemed to have a strong opinion but then throughout the course of the book just kind of watched it float away in the wind. Ruth, the sex-ed teacher, was morally opposed to the abstinence-only program she was forced to teach; I thought that she would rebel against it somehow, championing the student's right to the real facts. However, she just kind of went along with it half-heartedly and, when she was removed from the position, seemed relieved. Tim - the ex-addict-turned-good-Christian - felt strongly about his faith, but when it was really challenged, he just up and decided it wasn't for him any more. Both of these characters were unlikeable wimps. Don't waste your time with this one. If you're interested in Perrotta, read Little Children instead.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 7 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 5
Almost halfway through this boring book, I kept thinking, ok, something is just about to happen. By the time I reached the end, I was STILL waiting for something to happen.

This dull & unexciting book would be perfect for those who want to read without thinking, because although it did BRING UP some interesting issues, it never went any further than that with any of them.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on
Helpful Score: 3
Thought-provoking story of seduction within the modern American culture wars. Which is the most seductive force: freedom, love, Jesus, sex, acceptance, moral superiority, family??? The main characters must decide. The author is careful not to judge and lets the reader decide, too. Loved this book.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 160 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 3
The story fluctuates between two characters: 1)Ruth, the high school Sex Ed. teacher who is forced to teach an abstinence only program after the school is pressured to change its curriculum due to a growing faction of religious fanatics and 2) Tim, a former drug addict and alcoholic who is a member of this religious faction (also the coach for Ruth's daughter's soccer team) and his internal struggle with the demons from his former life and coping with the disconnection he is feeling with the religion he feels saved his life. All in all, it was an interesting commentary on sex, religion, and (to a degree) how they mix with public education. This story did pose many interesting points without seeming too preachy or critical, just some interesting things to consider while reading. The downside to this book was the ending. It pretty much just stopped. At first I thought I was missing pages (a recent book I read was missing pages, so it wasn't entirely unlikely), but alas, Perrotta just ends the book mid-scene. As a side-note, although the location of the town is never explicitly mentioned, I figure it is in NJ since all the colleges he refers to are NJ colleges or former names of NJ colleges and since I'm from NJ, I liked that (after finishing the book I GOOGLED Perrotta and he grew up in NJ so it's plausible)! :-P
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 13 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This book was a very easy read. I had no problems with following or understanding what was happening. I was more disppointed with the fact that the reviews and synopsis' didn't match up with the story. The book ended with way to many questions left unanswered. It focuses more on religion and the life of Tim than it did Ruth who is the teacher.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 15 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
Perhaps this work of fiction may be unpalatable for some. But, I must say, it is entertaining to see how religion, like any ideology, can be an instrument of hypocrisy and manipulation.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 5 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 2
This one just didn't grab me. I tried to read it, but I promised myself a long time ago that my reading time was too precious to spend on something that I didn't truly enjoy, so I put it down and put it back on the list. The context of the story sounded fascinating, and the reviews I had read were positive. I was disappointed.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on
Helpful Score: 2
In the era of "comprehensive vs. abstinence only" sex education this book barely brushes the surface of the issue. It is a quick read, but gives us nothing new to consider about the issue.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 157 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed reading this book. The characters were well developed and realistic. I loved the subject matter as well. For me, I could have done with less narrative about the soccer games; I would usually skip a paragraph or so when the book just went on and on describing the plays and what was happening on the field. OK, I get it, they're playing a soccer game! Also, I would have liked to have had a resolution to a couple of things that just kind of got dropped by the wayside and forgotten; but I won't go into that because I hate spoilers.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on
Helpful Score: 1
LOVED THIS BOOK! i don't know why it got such poor reviews...it is funny, insightful and engaging the whole way through. I also loved "Little Children" by Tom Perrotta...he is now one of my favorite writers!
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 58 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I really, really enjoyed this book. There wasn't an attempt at the end to tie things up in a neat little bow, which makes it more real. The prose is flawless and the dialogue is incredibly crisp. Most of the characters are sensitively drawn and multi-dimensional--especially the males. Perrotta does a wonderful and sensitive job of exploring difficult relationship and community issues without making anyone out to be the villain.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 10 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was an entertaining, quick read. Tom Perrota writes about modern American suburban families. He points out the flaws and contradictions of this lifestyle without being overly satirical or snarky. This book focuses on sex education and religion in public schools. I found this book to be funny and thought provoking.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 108 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I enjoyed this more than I thought I would. As the book came closer and closer to the end, I was completely in the dark about how it would end - lots of tension!

Having grown up in a fundementalist church, I recognized many of the characters. I thought the author did a good job of highlighting the contrast between "church" life and the rest of "real" life - and how hard it can be to reconcile the two.

I was happy with the ending. Things went in a direction that I found very satisfying.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 41 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
I accidentally got this book when I meant to grab another of Tom Perrotta's books. This is my first time reading any of his stuff and it was overall OK. The characters where really well written and easy to follow, but I can't say I loved it because of the way it ended! It irritates me when books are left in that manner..
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 6 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
Left to many questions. And really confusing as to the author's worldview.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 165 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This plot line is interesting and worth writing a novel about but the ending left me disappointed. I was invested in the characters and felt that the author didn't do a good job tying the loose ends together. If you're interested in the way conservative groups are affecting sex education in public schools, this is worth listening to.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 28 more book reviews
Helpful Score: 1
This was an enjoyable read by an author who writes well about modern life. Perrotta captures some of the realities of teaching spot-on--liberalism among teachers, how teachers behave during workshops, and the differences between what the curriculum says to teach and meeting the needs of your students. He also characterizes the fair right genuinely without being too mean. Depending on which side of center you sit, you will be disgusted with one faction represented in this novel or the other. I thoroughly enjoyed it!!!
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A fast read on a thought-provoking topic, The Abstinence Teacher uses humor and imperfect people trying to do right by their families and live according to their values to deal with some hot-button issues like parenting, divorce, religion and sex education.

I enjoyed it and passed it to a friend who sees those issues quite differently than I do; she liked it as well.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 132 more book reviews
A sacrilegious book.After WASTING my time 140 pages into it, I couldn't take anymore. Pure junk. Taking pages from the bible & making more of it than it states in the verse or passage. Almost threw it in trash.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 38 more book reviews
Slow, slow, slow...I just couldn't get through it.
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A well written book with some unexpected twists. I like that the characters are not one dimensional. A good read.
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I found this book very witty and made me laugh aloud at times. Even though I am a Christian, and the book pokes fun at some of my values, I still enjoyed it. Tom Perrotta also writes great short stories. "The Leftovers" another satirical book of his, was another great read if you like his work.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 975 more book reviews
This odd little book raises a lot more questions than it answers, and doesn't end so much as just dribble off the playing field. The set-up -- a high school sex ed teacher who gets in trouble with the growing fundamentalist Christian population of her school district -- poses some questions but never really answers them. And the plot complication of her attraction to one of those fundamentalists -- a man who is fighting demons of his own -- never really gets its due.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on
New author for me but this book broke through and made my top 10 list. Everything just seemed to flow so well. The characters were all interesting and the story was believable. Highly recommended.
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Surprisingly good.
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Interesting point of view about the intersection of evangelical Christians and the "real" world. Fast read.
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My book club read this book and we all enjoyed lively discussions about it. It brought forth several controversial issues. At the end, I was surprised at how my ideas about the two main characters had changed.
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I really liked this book. The writing is outstanding and I felt a lot of mixed emotion in this tale of longing, religion and vulnerability.

I couldn't decide who I identified with more? The lonely single mother or the recovering addict who has accepted Jesus Christ as his everything.

"Little Children" and "Election" are two of my favorite films (both Perrotta books), so I can't wait to dive into the rest of his work!
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 472 more book reviews
This story flows seamlessly from multiple points of view, incorporating back stories with forward moving plots that make it hard to put the book down until you got to the end. Perrotta just plopped down an ending that didn't quite fit with the rest of the story. The ending felt rushed. The book needed about 100 extra pages to resolve a few things.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 289 more book reviews
The Abstinence Teacher was probably chosen for its attention-getting potential rather than actual reflection of the story. Ruth, presumably the title character, assumes the role reluctantly as the Tabernacle, an evangelical Christian church gaining power in the idyllic All-American suburb of Stonewood Heights, publicly challenges her Human Sexuality curriculum which is informed by her "pleasure is good, shame is bad, and knowledge is power" philosophy. She has a confrontation with her daughter's soccer coach Tim, a recovering drug addict saved by faith and his Tabernacle community. While Tom Perrotta brings up some serious themes such as the proper role of religion in public life and education, his hyper-detailed descriptive prose doesn't turn this dramatic potential into a strong narrative arc. Instead, we hover over the elaborate development of these two characters, seemingly at odds, but having more in common than simply being divorced and middle-aged. There's a lot of internal conflict, but not a lot of tension between characters, and lots of loose ends go unresolved. Like a stay at a good hotel chain, The Abstinence Teacher was comfortable, tasteful, but slightly predictable and bland.
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Interesting Story...
I liked the concept but I thought it could have been further delved into. I felt ALOT was left open at the end...
maybe that was done so we could all make of it what we will though???
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 119 more book reviews
This is the second of Tom Perrotta's books that I've read, the first being The Leftovers, and my experiences with them both were very similar. This is a really good book and I read it quickly. His characters are well developed and the story is great. I got drawn into the story, waiting, wondering what was going to happen and then the book ends. There isn't any closure. On one hand I find that frustrating because I want to know what happens to the characters and I want resolution to their issues. On the other hand, it makes the characters feel even more real, obviously their stories aren't over. I'd recommend this book if you've liked Perrotta's other novels or if you're simply interested in a good story but not if you want a story with a solid ending.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 18 more book reviews
The title of this book and cover info is EXTREMELY misleading! This book is much more about religious choices and the angst of the lead character. I really didn't enjoy this book, in fact our whole book club gave it a big fat zero!
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This was a light read, but interesting enough. The story revolves around Ruth, who is divorced and raising a daughter. She teaches sex ed at the local high school. Unfortunately, the local community is infiltrated by a new church that is evangelical and is promoting prayer at public events (like kids' soccer games) and abstinence education in sex ed classes. The characters from the church were so annoying. If I have a hot button, it's people pushing their religion on other people and in public places. Another main character is Tim, who is a recovering addict and Ruth's daughter's soccer coach. He is also a member in the evangelical church. Clearly, conflict happens. I was satisfied with the way the author handled the situations and resolved the issues.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 3 more book reviews
The conflict in this book between sex education and a fundamentalist church was a realistic conflict but fell short of finding a conclusion. The 2 main characters just seemed to give up. This started out as one good story, but seemed to lose steam and then direction. The characters were interesting and the story was good. It is worth finishing if you pick it up.
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 82 more book reviews
Good book with likable characters. I think it could of been written about my own town! :) Wanted a little more at the end but it was a fun book to read.
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Amusing tale of a divorced sex education teacher and a married Christian fundamentalist; opposites attract...
reviewed The Abstinence Teacher on + 29 more book reviews
Really enjoyed this book - funny, witty, sweet, - great characters.
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Better than I expected. I kind of understood where both characters were coming from having not grown up a Christian but coming to the Lord after lived a crazy life before (though not as severe as Tim). What I've come to realize is you never quite get Christianity until you accept Jesus. You can understand the concept but you don't "get" it until you devote your life to Him. That's when the scales fall from your eyes. I don't agree with the a number of the Pastor's pushy involvements but that could be owed to the author's understanding of Christianity. Jesus saves, not people. The last two CDs (audiobook) were quite depressing. The story kept my attention by bringing up thought provoking topics.
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this book was just OK. It could have been so much more. It was a great concept but the author just doesnt seem to be a talented enough author to pull it off. The characters could have been better developed and the ending could have been less obvious.