Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Abstinence Teacher The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta

My review

rating: 1 of 5 stars
This book was a recommendation for our book club and I have to say it is one of the only books for that group that I think is poorly written. What I was told I would be reading is a funny book about a clash between the health teacher at a school and the local fundamentalist Christian group. I was expecting a collision of ideas, morality, education, parents v. teachers, community standards. What I got was something else completely.

It started off with the health teacher and it seemed to be progressing into something interesting in spite of characters that seemed a bit wooden and more of a caricature (the two gay guys). Then it split off into a story about the soccer coach who is a former rock and roller and former drug addict who is now born again and is trying to be a good Chrisian promise keeper. What was disturbing was the not so subtle contempt that Perrotta has for Christians. On page 82 he describes how the pastor is trying to set him up with one of his young parishoners and says "Unlike most of the single women who worshipped at the Tabernacle, she was young and reasonably cute..." Man. It's little digs like that that tell you he has a huge ax to grind. I have no love lost between me and promise keepers and as a librarian I am fully for banned books and the freedom to read. However, I feel like Perrotta had an opportunity to really portray a community and evoke some controversy and debate and intellectual discussion and he took the easy way out. The easy and slimy way.

The book made me feel dirty. The characters were gross, behaved badly and made decisions that overall were disgusting. Ultimately it had nothing to do with the original story. It lost its focus and its moral high ground and nothing can redeem it. I don't recommend this to anyone.

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