The Abstinence Teacher
By Tom Perrotta
This is a tough book to review and/or endorse. Let me explain why. I read "The Leftovers" by this author last year and absolutely loved it. What I loved about it was his very interesting use of religion not just as a plot point, but almost as a character. In "The Leftovers" (a book about what happens the day after the Rapture) he treated religion with both skepticism and respect. He managed to walk a very complicated line of showing different beliefs from different points of views, with great respect. I can't say the same for "The Abstinence Teacher."
This book is about a sex ed teacher who gets in trouble for stepping outside of the scripted curriculum and speaks her mind. The religious conservatives in the town make a target out of her, and speak their minds on many issues, and greatly influence the school curriculum.
I actually identified more with the sex ed teacher than I did with the religious conservatives. (Surprised?) But I didn't appreciate how the author painted all religious types to be irrational and forceful. The book painted the issue as black and white, and nobody could be happy until they were on one side or the other. That disappointed me because "The Leftovers" was such a refreshing change of pace that allowed people to be happy on their own terms, and not by popular standards.
Perrotta possesses that unique gift of writing an entertaining novel that can make you think and question values. I really enjoy his multi-point-of-view writing style, and use of religion and values. I just think he could have done it with less sanctimonious condescension in this book.
That being said, I did enjoy reading this book. And for some people I would even recommend it. But I still have to say that I was left horribly disappointed in the writer's blatant bias.
If you are looking for a good book, go read "The Leftovers."
That all being said, I think I'll download one of the writer's other books tonight. I plan to give him another chance.
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