• The Abstinence Teacher

  • A Novel
  • By: Tom Perrotta
  • Narrated by: Campbell Scott
  • Length: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • 3.7 out of 5 stars (305 ratings)

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The Abstinence Teacher  By  cover art

The Abstinence Teacher

By: Tom Perrotta
Narrated by: Campbell Scott
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Publisher's Summary

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 Tim Mason, a former stoner and rocker whose response to hitting rock bottom was to reach out and be saved. Ruth and Tim instinctively distrust one another, but when a controversy on the playing field forces the two of them to actually talk to each other, an uneasy friendship begins to develop. 

Elegantly written and with Perrotta's distinctive mix of satire and compassion, The Abstinence Teacher illuminates the powerful emotions that run beneath the placid surface of modern American family life, and explores the complicated spiritual and sexual lives of ordinary people. 

©2007 Tom Perrotta (P)2007 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC

Critic Reviews

"A finely wrought novel." ( Booklist)

What listeners say about The Abstinence Teacher

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    77
  • 4 Stars
    111
  • 3 Stars
    81
  • 2 Stars
    25
  • 1 Stars
    11
Performance
  • 4 out of 5 stars
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    55
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    22
  • 2 Stars
    7
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Story
  • 3.5 out of 5 stars
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    36
  • 4 Stars
    46
  • 3 Stars
    40
  • 2 Stars
    10
  • 1 Stars
    9

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Same and Better

If you've read "Little Children" you'll recognize both the form and the content of this book -- but we can forgive the safety of repetition (or the obsessiveness of it) when the works become fuller and truer as they go. And this one does.
If you are ambivalent (or negative) about religion, you'll find the story scratches your itch nicely without being so insulting to the practice that you feel guilty about feeling good. It comes close or course, but Perrota cleverly side steps any sense of lynching by making all of his characters (pro and anti) equally imperfect and tricky to love.

Also Campbell Scott's voice is a huge turn on.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Not for everyone!

This is a story that is not for everyone. It's well written and I liked how the characters interacted, influenced one another, and evolved. But the parts dealing with the ultra-conservative religious folks were sheer torture for me. And the narrator's voice is so soft and monotoned as to evoke drowsiness. I would have liked a narrator with more variety of tone and voice.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

I'll never do Perrotta again

The book kept me interested the entire time because I was hoping the characters' lives would improve. However, the book stopped suddenly and the characters are worse off at the end than the beginning. I will never do Perrotta again because the end left me feeling like I had wasted my time.

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Why bother?

I found this book pointless. The story went nowhere. The characters were unsympathetic and one dimensional. Not one of them was likeable. I suppose it did have something going for it because I did listen all the way to the end. I hoped the author was "going somewhere" with the story. I was wrong. My reaction to this audio offering when it ended was, "well, there is 10 plus hours I'll never get back"! Definitely NOT credit worthy

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Wonderful reader/ performer

Campbell Scott is a wonderful, subtle, intelligent actor. He alters his voice just enough to bring the characters alive, without ever overdoing it. I loved the novel, but I think Mr Scott is an inspired actor/reader
Annick

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

mildly controversial

Two adults struggling with their respective beliefs: The sober drug addict Tim doubts his savior, Jesus, and down to earth, single-mom Ruth is confronted with her teenage daughter's interest in religion and church. Current non-liberal religious tendencies in North America are displayed as well as the typical suburban life.

Perrotta avoids any judgement. He uses a flashlight instead of putting this sensitive subject in the limelight. This approach makes it an easy read. Supporting characters are sometimes cliched but the main characters are well developed and likable.

Excellent narration.

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

interesting characters

great story, love the depth of character, did not like the ending. wish there would have been more clarity for Reese and Tim, as well as Tim and Carrie

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Horrible Audio, Great Book

The reader for this audio book is appalling, but the book itself is very good. I read it once before, but I wanted the audio for gym and house cleaning use. I would recommend the book, but definitely not the audio edition.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Ugh

Wow. Super dull and pretentious. The only thing worse than the story was the monotone narrator who apparently has something against inflection.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Left me unsatisfied

I thought this book would be interesting contrast between characters with different values. There was minimal development of the characters. The ending was sudden, and left me unsatisfied. Not what I expected.

1 person found this helpful