What if – whoosh, right now, with no explanation – a number of us simply vanished? Would some of us collapse? Would others of us go on, one foot in front of the other, as we did before the world turned upside down?
That’s what the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, who lost many of their neighbors, friends and lovers in the event known as the Sudden Departure, have to figure out. Because nothing has been the same since it happened—not marriages, not friendships, not even the relationships between parents and children.
Kevin Garvey, Mapleton’s new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized community. Kevin’s own family has fallen apart in the wake of the disaster: his wife, Laurie, has left to join the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence; his son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a sketchy prophet named Holy Wayne. Only Kevin’s teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she’s definitely not the sweet “A” student she used to be. Kevin wants to help her, but he’s distracted by his growing relationship with Nora Durst, a woman who lost her entire family on October 14th and is still reeling from the tragedy, even as she struggles to move beyond it and make a new start.
With heart, intelligence and a rare ability to illuminate the struggles inherent in ordinary lives, Tom Perrotta has written a startling, thought-provoking novel about love, connection and loss.
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Praise for The Abstinence Teacher
‘Tom Perrotta is a truth-telling, unshowy chronicler of modern-day America.’ New York Times Book Review
'Highly entertaining… At heart, this very funny, very engaging novel poses a question that seems all too pertinent in our Manichean times – why are we afraid of doubts and the mess that is human existence? And why, oh why, does there have to be a goddam answer to everything?' The Times
'An expectedly serious, fair-minded and humane look at a lonely woman and a searching man. It is surprising and unusually loving towards its characters. Perrotta is especially good on that thorniest of questions, why Americans are so drawn to evangelical Christianity.' Patrick Ness, Guardian
‘Told with wisdom, wit and warmth.’ Daily Mail
‘This understated, relevant read from the champion of states-side suburbia brings fresh insight into the battle between the two greatest forces in contemporary America.’ ObserverL'autore:
Tom Perrotta is the author of several works of fiction, including ‘Little Children’, ‘Joe College’ and ‘Election’. He lives outside Boston, Massachusetts.
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