The Abstinence Teacher – Tom Perrotta

Abstinence TeacherAs always, Tom Perrotta displays an uncanny ability to create full-bodied characters that feel less like characters in a book and more like vivid reflections of people that we all know.

There’s honest talking high school teacher and single mum Ruth Ramsay who unwittingly finds herself in battle with the local Church, and then there is Tim mason, former wild boy who has relinquished his former life and converted to Christianity. Facing their own personal crises of faith, Ruth and Tim are pulled into conflict and yet find themselves almost irresistibly drawn together.

Aside from his richly drawn characters, Perrotta creates for them a highly detailed world where we can really see, hear and feel what our characters experience. His clever use of pop culture references grounds the story in time and place, and constructs an entirely believable reality.

With deft hand and strongly satirical eye, Perrotta handles his subject matter with precision, and even when dealing with subjects as divisive as religion and sex, he manages to air all perspectives with supremely delicate touch.


  1. PaulS (gingatao)

    Another wonderful review, the book sound great, I’ll keep an eye out for it.

    PaulS (gingatao)’s last blog post..metaphorically juvenilia,

  2. Tracey

    Hey Paul – Thanks for your ever kind support. I am a big fan of Tom Perrotta’s writing, and quite enjoy the movie adaptations of his works…he has such a wonderfully natural way with his words.

  3. jan

    Love your six words and thanks for the review. I read voraciously and love to go into the library with my list in hand.

    jan’s last blog post..John Steinbeck Travels with Charlie the Poodle

  4. Jo

    Another good review, you have a knack for these things. I didn’t care for Little Children, characters totally unsympathetic, aside from the neighbour bookclub woman, and the denouement ridiculous but you’ve convinced me to try this GRIN.

    Jo’s last blog post..Collection

  5. harmonie22

    Sounds like a good read, which I need. Thanks for the review. It’s been a while since I read a good novel- and what would a good novel be without religion and romance/sex to spice up the plot 🙂

    harmonie22’s last blog post..Cyprus, yes, wonderful development, bravo

  6. Ricardo

    I see you’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on your time off and an excellent review as always.

    Ricardo’s last blog post..Please stand by….

  7. Tracey

    Hi Jan – I’m a lover of reading too, but just never seem to get around to completing my list of things to read. There are just too many books added to the pile each day for me to ever catch up…then again maybe just sticking to a list is the way to go, then I can’t get too sidetracked.

  8. Tracey

    Hi Jo – Thanks so much for your visit. I guess with Little Children I found that Perrotta paints a picture of ‘real’ people and that sometimes I may not like these people. I suppose I am drawn to the raw reality of his work. And with the movie, I love Kate Winslet, and I thought her performance was wonderful…but I know what you mean by the end.

  9. Tracey

    Hi Harmonie – Yeah, The Abstinence Teacher is different to what I expected, but Perrotta has such a wry tone it’s hard to resist. He does tend to ‘end’ things quite suddenly and perhaps not too cleanly, and so always leaves me wanting more, more, more…and you’re right – what would life be without the spice?

  10. Tracey

    Hi Ricardo – I went through a bit of a non-reading period for a while there, so it has been nice to get back into it all again. Finding time for reading is one of life’s little indulgences…thanks for visiting!!

  11. TheElementary

    “full-bodied characters that feel less like characters in a book and more like vivid reflections of people that we all know.”
    Sounds like a book I would enjoy- I can only think of a handful of books I’ve ever read in which I come to care about the characters. For me character is more important than plot. It’s been a long while for me also since I read a decent novel. So much hype, so little in return.

    TheElementary’s last blog post..With a Pinch of Salt

  12. Dan

    Not about this post, just thought I’d say I like the new look, I haven’t been here for a while so didn’t notice till now.

    Dan’s last blog post..Like Sands Through The Hourglass

  13. PaulS (gingatao)

    You have been missing for a while. I hope everythings okay. I don’t know what to read or watch or listen to without your wonderful reviews. Here is a word hug just in case you need one, ((hug))

    PaulS (gingatao)’s last blog cyprus one summer

  14. Pamela

    Greetings to you! You have a lovely blog, and Edward and I have so enjoyed our visit! We shall return!

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