The Abstinence Teacher

Tom Perrotta

St. Martin's Press

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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.  Elegantly written, it is characterized by the distinctive mix of satire and compassion that have animated Perrotta’s previous novels.

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The Abstinence Teacher
PART ONESome People Enjoy ItMiss MoralityON THE FIRST DAY OF HUMAN SEXUALITY, RUTH RAMSEY WORE A short lime green skirt, a clingy black top, and strappy high-heeled sandals, the kind of attention-getting outfit she normally wouldn't have worn on a date--not that she was going on a lot of dates these days--let alone to work. It was a small act of rebellion on her part, a note to self--and anyone else who cared--that she was not a willing participant in the farce that would unfold later that morning in second-period Health & Family Life.

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The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrotta--Audiobook Excerpt

Listen to this audiobook excerpt from Tom Perrotta's novel The Abstinence Teacher. Stonewood Heights is the perfect place to raise children, but amid its good schools and healthy real estate market, a small-town culture war is brewing. The Abstinence Teacher focuses on two divorced parents who become adversaries in the mess: Ruth Ramsey is the human sexuality teacher at the local high school who believes that "pleasure is good, shame is bad, and knowledge is power." Her younger daughter's soccer coach is Ti

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Praise for The Abstinence Teacher

"He's the Steinbeck of suburbia."—Time
"A finely wrought novel."—Jerry Eberle, Booklist
“Perrotta is that rare combination: a satirist with heart….Those who haven’t curled up on the couch with this writer’s books are missing a very great pleasure.”—Seattle Times
“Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America.”—The New York Times Book Review
"Ruefully humorous and tenderly understanding of human folly: the most mature, accomplished work yet from this deservedly bestselling author."
--Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"Rife with Perrotta’s subtle and satiric humor."
--Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads


About the Author

Tom Perrotta

Tom Perrotta is the author of five previous works of fiction: Bad Haircut, The Wishbones, Election, and the New York Times bestsellers Joe College and Little Children.  He lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts.

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Available Formats and Book Details

The Abstinence Teacher
Tom Perrotta

e-Book Agency

e-Book Agency
St. Martin's Press
October 2007
e-Book Agency
ISBN: 9781429921381
ISBN10: 1429921382
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 368 pages

Unabridged Digital Audio

Unabridged  Digital Audio
Macmillan Audio
October 2007
Unabridged Digital Audio
ISBN: 9781427201928
ISBN10: 1427201927
Audio Run Time: 11:30

Trade Paperback

Trade Paperback
St. Martin's Press
St. Martin's Griffin
September 2008
Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780312363543
ISBN10: 0312363540
5 1/2 x 8 1/4 inches, 384 pages

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St. Martin's Press

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