The Abstinence Teacher
By Tom Perrotta
St. Martin's Press, 2007, 368 pages, $16.47 on Amazon
We don't usually review novels in the Journal, and I usually don't have time to read them, but this was a Christmas gift from my step-daughter and son-in-law who also find time in their busy lives to teach sexuality classes. And I did have some time over the holidays to relax. The problem was, it was very hard to put down after I started to read.
Tom Perrotta has a way of getting inside the heads and hearts of his characters and describing them to the reader in a complex way that we can relate to very easily. He also is very up to date and in tune with Marty Klein's book America's War On Sex, and the very fundamentalist way of thinking in some churches. How could I not read it?
The teacher, Ruth, is doing a great job with a comprehensive sexual health class, but is 'reported on' by a student who goes to the Tabernacle. Ruth answered a question and said that some people enjoy oral sex. Such blasphemy! The school board goes overboard, and so does the comprehensive curriculum, replaced by an abstinence curriculum. Ruth's daughter plays soccer in a youth league, and when Ruth goes to a game that her team wins, the coach gathers these pre-teens in a circle and offers up a...