Reading Tom Perrotta’s new novel, The Abstinence Teacher, you might just imagine that you’ve picked up his last one, Little Children, by mistake. It’s a similar ensemble piece, set in a similar milieu, exploring mostly similar themes—suburban loneliness and longing. Of course, there’s more political heat here—the abstinence teacher is a sex-ed teacher compelled by local Christianists to put forth a curriculum she doesn’t believe in. There’s also less humor. And though the new novel has that same unputdownable quality as Little Children (the movie rights have already been sold), the political overtones can intrude: Some may have a hard time believing fully in the believers.
The Abstinence Teacher
By Tom Perrotta, St. Martin’s; October 16.