Book Review - The Abstinence Teacher

The Abstinence Teacher is the latest from Tom Perrotta who also wrote Election. I didn't read that one but I quite enjoyed the movie.

The book focuses on two main characters. Ruth is a high school sex-ed teacher who's divorced and fearful that she's never going to meet someone. Tim, Ruth's daughter's soccer coach, is a recovering drug addict and alcoholic who's found Jesus and a local church have kept him on the straight and narrow.

The story alternates between each character's viewpoint. Ruth is forced to teach an abstinence only program that she feels violates all of her principles. Tim is struggling not only with his addictions but with his marriage to a church girl. Both struggle with their relationships with their children.

Their conflict starts when Tim spontaneously leads the soccer team in prayer after a match. Ruth is appalled, drags her daughter away and tries to get the other parents to join her in protesting. Meanwhile, Tim's church friends decided he's a fighter for Jesus and want to push even more praying.

I really liked that Ruth and Tim were developed characters with flaws and doubts yet decent folks. Only one of the religious types comes across as insincere and mean but the rest seem like people who are happy to have a foundation for their beliefs.

Very good character study - I quite enjoyed reading this.

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