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Gina's Picks

Book Cover for The Abstinence Teacher Perrotta, Tom
The Abstinence Teacher

Perrotta's writing continues to improve with every book, and the highlight here is the honesty with which he portrays his main characters and their stories. Perrotta is great at describing how someone can be in the middle of a family and still feel isolated, apart, and lonely, and he does so in a way here that really rings true: The two main characters are both parents in their late 30s, but both are still trying to figure out where they fit into their lives, and who they fit with. The female protagonist-the abstinence teacher-has a strong personality and convictions to match. She projects a sense of independence despite being lonely, and while she is sometimes bitter and even a little desperate, she's always human. The male protagonist is a former addict and general loser, who starts to get his life back together after becoming a Born Again Christian. He and the other religious people in the book are portrayed as people, not as stereotypes. Perrotta just sort of puts them into normal situations and invites readers to look at them, but not necessarily to laugh at them; they're treated with respect, even when the characters around them feel something less than respect for them. This is a fun book that's filled with honesty, romance, love, and Perrotta's signature humor-definitely worth a read.
Recommended by Gina, November 2007