James Poniewozik on Tom Perrotta’s The Abstinence Teacher
The Abstinence Teacher
by Tom Perrotta
$24.95 List Price
In the well-off northeastern suburb of Stonewood Heights, Ruth Ramsey is the high school Health & Family Life—that is, sex-ed—teacher. Her job is to shepherd the enclave’s adolescents on their glide path from affluent school to prestigious college free of pregnancy and STDs, by educating them in the ways of safe sex. Or at least it was, until members of a new fundamentalist church, the Tabernacle of the Gospel Truth, accuse her of advocating oral sex after she remarks in class that “some people enjoy it.” Embarrassed in the media and threatened with a lawsuit, the school district announces that the sex-ed curriculum will be redrawn by an abstinence group called Wise Choices for Teens.
Ruth, a divorcée, firm liberal, and prosex feminist, is now consigned to singing the virtues of crossed legs and zipped trousers.
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