I thought Perrotta's previous book, LITTLE CHILDREN, was absolutely wonderful. The movie adaptation was quite good as well. I was interested to see what he would do with his new book, ABSTINENCE TEACHER. The premise was intriguing.
A divorcee single mom discovers that her high school sex education is being taken over by Christian fundamentalists. She is forced to go from teaching "sex ed" to strictly teaching abstinence. This sets the stage for a quiet battle between non-Christians and Christians in this little suburban town.
I was a little wary at first because I get tired of the way Christians can be caricatured in fiction and film lately. We are not all fundamentalist crazies. I think Perrotta did an excellent job of creating complex and multi-layered characters. No one is perfect. No one is clear-cut in their beliefs and ideals. Each character struggles with his/her problems and identity.
The "powers-that-be" work really hard at pitting us all against one another. Especially in the arena of religion. I think this book really captures the idea that, ultimately, we are all individuals just trying to make our way in the world. While I didn't like this book as much as LITTLE CHILDREN, it was an interesting read. The ending was a little abrupt. I would have liked more. But I will definitely be reading Perrotta's next book.