The Abstinence Teacher by Tom Perrota

Mike’s review

I knew he’d written Election, but I was hoping for more of The Leftovers here. This is fun and quirky like Election the movie. I’ve never read the book and now I’m assuming it parallels the film in tone. And the jacket gives me no reason to assume this book would be a brutal slap in the face, but I still hoped. There aren’t a lot of slaps in the face around it seems so either I’m doomed as a  writer or I’m exploiting a market inefficiency.


It’s been a long time since I’ve seen Election, but I think I remember some of the same crazy-women tropes in that that are also here. Not full-on insane-crazy, but completely irrational and not able to understand why. Harpy/naggy. This sort of thing turns me off so much. I pretty much let it slide here, but it was noticed. I don’t know why it bugs me so much. There are women who exist in the world that are like this, but I don’t want to read about them. I think, in this instance, it’s partially because I feel lied to. The story starts with Ruth’s perspective, so she seems like who we’re supposed to side with (and the sex ed teacher is always going to seem more reasonable than the reformed Christian), but once the perspective switches, Tim becomes much more sympathetic, because Ruth just kinda loses her damn mind and Tim is totally rational about these things he’s doing that are totally irrational. Perrota made it seem more rational for an alcoholic to drink than for a mother to be concerned about forcing religion on her children. That’s not fair.

Scratching “JESUS” into a Hummer is laugh-out-loud funny. A genuinely funny crazy thing and a man does it.


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