Chapter 2: Books & Writing
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The Abstinence Teacher

  • ISBN 0312358334
  • 2007, St. Martin's Press (Hardcover)
  • ISBN 0312363540
  • 2008, St. Martin's Griffin (Paperback)

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.

Select Reviews

"Tom Perrotta knows his suburbia, and in The Abstinence Teacher he carves out an even larger chunk of his distinct terrain....rife with Perrotta's subtle and satiric humor..." — Publishers Weekly

"Sex education, soccer and Christian fundamentalism make strange bedfellows in Perrotta’s shrewd yet compassionate fifth novel....Ruefully humorous and tenderly understanding of human folly: the most mature, accomplished work yet from this deservedly bestselling author." — Kirkus Reviews (starred)

Additional Reviews


Audio Edition

  • ISBN 1427201919
  • 2007, Audio Renaissance (English)
  • Unabridged Compact Disc
  • Performed by Campbell Scott

Campbell Scott is a critically-acclaimed actor and director, appearing in such films as Music and Lyrics, The Secret Lives of Dentists, and Dying Young. His audiobook narration includes Stephen King's The Shining and Laura Hillenbrand's Seabiscuit.

Listen to an excerpt (MP3), courtesy of the publisher.