Sunday, May 9, 2010

31. The Abstinence Teacher - Tom Perrotta

Audio read by Campbell Scott (who was terrific...)
Audio Renaissance Audiobook/St. Martin's Press, 2007
9 unabridged cds
10.5 hrs.
368 pgs.
Rating: 3.5

This story is told first by Ruth Ramsey, a divorced mother of two girls who teaches sex ed to 9th graders at the local high school. An evangelical church has come into town, and the school board has decided to implement an abstinence curriculum that Ruth must now teach. She's not at all happy about this, she wants to tell kids the truth without sugar-coating or outright lying.

The story is then taken over by Tim Mason, Ruth's fifth-grade daughter's soccer coach and born-again Christian. He lost his wife and his life by overdoing drugs and drinking and has been "saved" by Pastor Tim of the evangelical church, coerced into marrying a young Christian believer, and tries to do what the church tells him is "right", even though it seems to go against his deepest wants.

Then the story starts going back and forth as the two meet and are oddly drawn to each other. After a particularly exciting soccer game he gathers the girls and spontaneously leads them in prayer, which incites Ruth as well as Tim's ex-wife. At the same time, Ruth's two girls decide they want to attend church. It's roly-poly upside-down stuff, but works. I did a lot of eye-rolling, I must say, but couldn't wait to see the outcome.

The outcome. Okay. It was disappointing. Perotta disappointed me there. The story built, and built, and built some more, then ended. Yuck. But I totally enjoyed the first 8 discs. The ride to school flew by, and I sat outside as long as I could before going in so I could listen just a little more....

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