it’s a small world

I am falling in love with our local library more and more every time I go. Which, these days, is at least once a week. I’ve been reading a lot more and watching a lot less tv, hence the frequent visits. Now that I’m not regularly writing papers about literature, I’m enjoying books more. It’s funny – I became an American Studies student because I loved books, and while my studies did boost my reading experience, having books lying in wait all the time, ready to be analyzed and thought about and written about was  discouraging sometimes. I’ve been eating up words again now that I don’t have to, even as I’ve been missing discussing books in lecture halls. (Gotta love the contradictions inherent in life. At least, in my life.)

Anyway, on my last visit, I picked up Tom Perrotta’s The Abstinence Teacher. I’ve seen it in book stores for years, but it never called to me enough for me to purchase it. I actually didn’t expect our local library to have it (they have quite a good selection of English-language books, both classics and more modern works, but of course it isn’t complete by a long shot), since it’s so culture-specific (I’m pretty sure we don’t have any abstinence programs in place in schools here). So coming across it on a lower shelf while looking for any Terry Pratchett I hadn’t read yet was quite the nice surprise.

Cover of "The Abstinence Teacher"

Cover of The Abstinence Teacher

That being said, I’m kind of glad I didn’t buy it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s well-written, Perrotta knows how to make his characters come alive (and how to make both sides of a story seem reasonable, which is quite the achievement), and I kept wanting to read ahead. But it felt kind of flat towards the end, and the ending just didn’t feel conclusive somehow.

I’ll return it to the library next week, and who knows, maybe I’ll check it out again in a couple of months. Maybe I won’t be in quite the same hurry and I’ll appreciate it more. In the meantime, I can recommend it to people looking for a nice, easy read that does cover a bit of moral ground. But you might want to familiarize yourself with the whole sex ed versus abstinence ed debate first, to avoid a bit of culture shock and to better grasp what this book is about.

On second thought, maybe that isn’t necessary. Because what this book is about, in the end, is how people are still people and need the same things, however different they go about it. At the end of the day, humans will be humans, no matter if they’re born again or don’t believe, teach sex ed or coach soccer, are married or divorced. Those outer trappings really don’t make as much a difference as we think.

 

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