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Tom Perrotta's thirtyish parents of young children are a varied and surprising bunch. There's Todd, the handsome stay-at-home dad dubbed "The Prom King" by the moms at the playground, and his wife, Kathy, a documentary filmmaker envious of the connection Todd has forged with their toddler son. And there's Sarah, a lapsed feminist surprised to find she's become a typical wi Tom Perrotta's thirtyish parents of young children are a varied and surprising bunch. There's Todd, the handsome stay-at-home dad dubbed "The Prom King" by the moms at the playground, and his wife, Kathy, a documentary filmmaker envious of the connection Todd has forged with their toddler son. And there's Sarah, a lapsed feminist surprised to find she's become a typical wife in a traditional marriage, and her husband, Richard, who is becoming more and more involved with an internet fantasy life than with his own wife and child. And then there's Mary Ann, who has life all figured out, down to a scheduled roll in the hay with her husband every Tuesday at nine P.M. They all raise their kids in the kind of quiet suburb where nothing ever seems to happen - until one eventful summer, when a convicted child molester moves back to town, and two parents begin an affair that goes further than either of them could ever have imagined.


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Tom Perrotta's thirtyish parents of young children are a varied and surprising bunch. There's Todd, the handsome stay-at-home dad dubbed "The Prom King" by the moms at the playground, and his wife, Kathy, a documentary filmmaker envious of the connection Todd has forged with their toddler son. And there's Sarah, a lapsed feminist surprised to find she's become a typical wi Tom Perrotta's thirtyish parents of young children are a varied and surprising bunch. There's Todd, the handsome stay-at-home dad dubbed "The Prom King" by the moms at the playground, and his wife, Kathy, a documentary filmmaker envious of the connection Todd has forged with their toddler son. And there's Sarah, a lapsed feminist surprised to find she's become a typical wife in a traditional marriage, and her husband, Richard, who is becoming more and more involved with an internet fantasy life than with his own wife and child. And then there's Mary Ann, who has life all figured out, down to a scheduled roll in the hay with her husband every Tuesday at nine P.M. They all raise their kids in the kind of quiet suburb where nothing ever seems to happen - until one eventful summer, when a convicted child molester moves back to town, and two parents begin an affair that goes further than either of them could ever have imagined.

30 review for Little Children

  1. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

    The movie adaptation of this book was on TV recently which reminded me that I had read this book quite some time ago. Little Children focuses on couples in their thirties living in a quiet Boston suburb where nothing really happens. One summer all of that changes when a convicted pedophile moves into the neighborhood. Sarah and Richard: Sarah was once a radical feminist. She never thought she would be where she is or who she is today - a common housewife. Her husband, Richard sec The movie adaptation of this book was on TV recently which reminded me that I had read this book quite some time ago. Little Children focuses on couples in their thirties living in a quiet Boston suburb where nothing really happens. One summer all of that changes when a convicted pedophile moves into the neighborhood. Sarah and Richard: Sarah was once a radical feminist. She never thought she would be where she is or who she is today - a common housewife. Her husband, Richard secludes himself in his study ignoring his wife and child as he becomes more and more involved with internet porn. Kathy and Todd: Kathy is a successful documentary filmmaker. Her husband Todd stays at home taking care of their toddler son. Kathy feels like she is missing out and is envious of the connection Todd has with their son. She continuously pressures Todd to take the bar exam (he doesn't tell her he doesn't want to be a lawyer). He tells his wife he is out studying for the exam but instead tries to relive his youth watching a bunch of kids skateboarding. Mary Ann and Louis: Mary Ann thinks the key to life is to have everything scheduled down to the minute. This includes scheduling sex with her husband, Louis every Tuesday evening at nine p.m. When Ronald McGorvey, convicted sex offender moves into the neighborhood the residents are angry. Especially retired cop Larry. Three years ago something happened while on duty that ended up forcing him into early retirement. His wife and kids have left him. He decides to take it upon himself to rid the neighborhood of Ronald or "Ronnie". To get out of the house Sarah starts hanging around the playground with her daughter, Lucy. Todd has also been bringing his son to the same playground. All of the other mothers think Todd is gorgeous and refer to him as "Prom King." One day the mothers dare Sarah to walk up to Todd and ask for his phone number. Things go even farther and soon the two of them are scheduling play dates for both their children and themselves. I read this book over ten years ago. I clearly remember reading the synopsis of the book and laughing because there were a few similarities to my life. At the time I was still married and both my husband and I were in our thirties. My husband's name was also Todd, and he was staying at home to take care of our daughter. I wasn't a famous filmmaker but I was working full time and I remember feeling like I was missing out on raising my child. And bizarrely sometimes when I picked up my daughter from school, some women would ask where my husband, "Hot Toddy" was. Anyhow back to the book. I really enjoyed seeing how the lives of the characters intertwined throughout the novel. I thought they were quite well-developed. Some of the characters were just perfect in their unlike-ability. The bitchy playground mothers were so well-written as were many of the other characters. The writer shows how flawed any of us can be. How we can all make a bad choice, or give into temptation. We don't all behave perfectly all the time. I'm not saying that everyone is going to give into their temptation but we'd be surprised probably to find out what really happens in some of our neighbors lives. A lot of references to Madame Bovary in the book. At the beginning the women are reading it for their book-club. Mary Ann: Oh that's nice. So now cheating on your husband makes you a feminist? Sarah Pierce: No, no, no. It's not the cheating. It's the hunger - the hunger for an alternative and the refusal to accept a life of unhappiness. I really enjoyed the dark humor and thought it was a good, quick and interesting read. Lots of food for thought with this one. Perfect for book clubs.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Bren

    “After all, what was adult life but one moment of weakness piled on top of another? Most people just fell in line like obedient little children, doing exactly what society expected of them at any given moment, all the while pretending that they’d actually made some sort of choice.” ― Tom Perrotta, Little Children What happens when your bored and disillusioned? When the flatness of the days mold themselves into your soul and you are not SAD just indifferent? And you th “After all, what was adult life but one moment of weakness piled on top of another? Most people just fell in line like obedient little children, doing exactly what society expected of them at any given moment, all the while pretending that they’d actually made some sort of choice.” ― Tom Perrotta, Little Children What happens when your bored and disillusioned? When the flatness of the days mold themselves into your soul and you are not SAD just indifferent? And you think: is this all there is? I have read two of Perrotta's books and loved both of them. He does have a way of creating bleakness and atmosphere in a really realistic manner. Anyway..Little Children is about the daily grind of life in the suburbs. It kind of reminds me of a bit of one of my all time favorite books 'revolutionary Road". While I do not like this as much, it is still an incredible story. The characters created are achingly real. And love them or hate them, they are drawn so vividly. I was deeply moved by the story of boredom, silent angst and wrong choices which can result in tragic turns of events as well all know. I do seem to be drawn to these types of stories. I love the psychological components that often accompany books like this. I had the opportunity to read several reviews and many said the film was better. I agree slightly but I think that is because the cast in the film gave such incredible performances. With his other book Election, which was also a movie, I disliked the film and loved the book. For fans of Literary Fiction, this is a great pick and it would also be perfect for book groups as there really is so much to talk about.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Tom Perrotta is usually very fun to read. I'm pretty sure I've read all his books, and I typically polish them off (meaning I read them, not eat them; you should not eat books) within the day, which for me is impressive. A dinette set could finish a marathon with time to spare well before I complete a book, but Perrotta's voice is easygoing and funny, and a master at pacing if you ask me, so I happily breeze right through. But "Little Children", for which he has arguably received the most attent Tom Perrotta is usually very fun to read. I'm pretty sure I've read all his books, and I typically polish them off (meaning I read them, not eat them; you should not eat books) within the day, which for me is impressive. A dinette set could finish a marathon with time to spare well before I complete a book, but Perrotta's voice is easygoing and funny, and a master at pacing if you ask me, so I happily breeze right through. But "Little Children", for which he has arguably received the most attention, is in no way his best book. Now I still finished it in a day or two, so at least it's not boring. I got the impression that Perrotta felt like he was making this ostensibly mind-blowing point about the parent-child relationship, wanting us to sit down with our head in our hands and murmur "My God, my child is not the child, but I, the parent, am really the child, although my child is the child as well, but only because nature has forced him to be a child, whereas I, the parent, a supposed adult, have no such excuse for my childish behavior, and yet I remain a child, a child who has a child. I'm calling DHS on myself. Thank you, Tom Perrotta". I hate to think of him snapping his fingers and declaring "Aha! I will name my book 'Little Children'! That's perfect! Because it involves little children, like real actual children, but really it's about the little children in all of us! Because that's all we are! Everyone! Honey! Honey? Where are you? Honey, are you in the bathroom? Where are you?! Honey?! Jesus, there you are! How can you stand the TV that loud? I just figured it out! Guess what I'm calling the book? 'Little Children'! It means two things!" I guess if you had never read any of his stuff in the past, this book might seem pretty good, and where it was the first novel of his to really spend much time on the charts, it seems likely to me that better-than-usual marketing (coupled with the fact that, on the whole, young parents seem to like to read books) is the most viable explanation for the novel's comparatively runaway success. Worst of all is the ending, which is just really, really stupid. Didn't like the movie much, either.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ In case you haven’t seen me brag about it before are unaware, I work a couple of blocks away from this beauty . . . . (^^^^That’s just the parking garage.) So I can go check out books conveniently during my lunch hour. (There’s also the porny library up in the ‘burbs that gives me the hookup on all of my . . . . scientific research projects.) Since Fall has finally fallen and the temps are no longer in the bazillions I’ve taken it upon myself to walk down to the ol’ bibliotech a time or two – an Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ In case you haven’t seen me brag about it before are unaware, I work a couple of blocks away from this beauty . . . . (^^^^That’s just the parking garage.) So I can go check out books conveniently during my lunch hour. (There’s also the porny library up in the ‘burbs that gives me the hookup on all of my . . . . scientific research projects.) Since Fall has finally fallen and the temps are no longer in the bazillions I’ve taken it upon myself to walk down to the ol’ bibliotech a time or two – and since I’m a farking crack addict I now have FIFTEEN physical books checked out in addition to a bunch of e-copies and eleventy thousand galleys. Added bonus, since I suck at reviewing I have actually read a few of these already but keep getting distracted by squirrels the convenience of Kindle notes rather than the inconvenience of post-it notes so now I’m all like . . . . Basically what all that amounts to is you should expect an even shittier review than I generally puke out. Okay, so do you ever have a lifetime phase where you are kind of like this . . . . And then you take a new job in your company and for the first time in 10 years you are supposed to interact with others and it is extremely people-y and you just want to scream . . . . But you’re trying to pretend you’re almost normal and that would totally blow your cover and so you bottle up all of your annoyance until you get home and then you flip out on your husband about shit like . . . . And then you finally come to the conclusion that you need to give yourself a time out. If the above has ever happened to you I highly suggest reading a book that confirms . . . . In order to feel better about yourself. Little Children seriously delivered. We’re talking affairs and secret internet fetishes and a real over-achieving PITA supermom you want to punch in the throat and a child molester. It probably goes without saying these were all Mitchell’s type of people. A solid 4 Stars that worked so well it took me almost a whole month to get back to my typical approach to life . . . . Even my friend Deanna liked this one and she is pretty much the nicest person ever so now you know you don’t have to be a total psychopath like me in order to enjoy it : )

  5. 4 out of 5

    B the BookAddict

    Tom Perrotta appeared in my library's Who Writes Like file when I entered Richard Russo's name. Personally, I don't see the resemblance; Perrotta has none of Russo's wonderfully wry wit nevertheless Little Children was a worthwhile albiet quick read. Yes, this is a satire but not a laugh out loud one for me. Infidelity, a knicker-sniffing husband, a convicted child molester, an unfulfilled housewife, a retired cop with a penchant for violence but not too much actually about the 'little children'; it's an inter Tom Perrotta appeared in my library's Who Writes Like file when I entered Richard Russo's name. Personally, I don't see the resemblance; Perrotta has none of Russo's wonderfully wry wit nevertheless Little Children was a worthwhile albiet quick read. Yes, this is a satire but not a laugh out loud one for me. Infidelity, a knicker-sniffing husband, a convicted child molester, an unfulfilled housewife, a retired cop with a penchant for violence but not too much actually about the 'little children'; it's an interesting mix. As I've discovered in his other novels, Perrotta likes to talk about moral dilemmas and he put this reader in the moral dilemma of actually pitying a child molester and that did shake me up a little. Perrotta writes with a sharp intuition into the human condition; this is an interesting, sometimes compelling novel. 3.5★

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This has got to be the first time in my entire life that I thought the movie version of something was better than the book. Yes, I saw the movie first, and perhaps that influenced me. But, man, Tom Perrotta is a crappy writer. I felt like he was just punching a clock here--so much of the writing was dull, cliched, and lifeless. Not only that, the movie managed to create complexity in the characters where the book did not. For instance, the movie actually managed to make me feel sorry for a child This has got to be the first time in my entire life that I thought the movie version of something was better than the book. Yes, I saw the movie first, and perhaps that influenced me. But, man, Tom Perrotta is a crappy writer. I felt like he was just punching a clock here--so much of the writing was dull, cliched, and lifeless. Not only that, the movie managed to create complexity in the characters where the book did not. For instance, the movie actually managed to make me feel sorry for a child molester. Not the book. I also felt like the book completely failed to create a believable bond between the parents and children in the story. I'm a stay-at-home mom, and I completely get that staying home can be tough--some days, it's brutal, in fact. I have no problem seeing that portrayed in fiction; it can be done well. But the book does nothing to convince us that the main characters give even the slightest damn about their children. It's a first for me, for sure, but this is one case where the screenplay writer was a better artist than the novelist.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Timothy Urges

    A character study of regretful adults. All reverting back to childhood with their desires and deeds. What do you do when you are unhappy with the choices you have made up to this point in your life? You seek an escape. That is what this novel is about. One of my recurring complaints about books in general is product placement. Ignoring my anti-consumerist attitude this was a good read. The ending was perfect.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Cheeky Cher

    4.5 stars - Incredible. I really loved it. Essentially, this is a very cynical book that explores the various forms selfishness can take through the viewpoints of several deeply flawed characters living in suburbia. If you don't count the measly 5% I read the night I started this one, then I read it in one day, not wanting to put it down. Apparently there is a movie based on it that I need to check out now. Loved this one and think it is a book that begs to be discussed in a group. B 4.5 stars - Incredible. I really loved it. Essentially, this is a very cynical book that explores the various forms selfishness can take through the viewpoints of several deeply flawed characters living in suburbia. If you don't count the measly 5% I read the night I started this one, then I read it in one day, not wanting to put it down. Apparently there is a movie based on it that I need to check out now. Loved this one and think it is a book that begs to be discussed in a group. But be warned, if you must like the main characters to enjoy a book, like "feel-good" novels, or prefer a neat and happy ending, then this is not the book for you. ------------------------------------------- Favorite Quote: She would be a mentor and an inspiration to girls like herself, the quiet ones who'd sleepwalked their way through high school, knowing nothing except that they couldn't possibly be happy with any of the choices the world seemed to be offering them. First Sentence: The young mothers were telling each other how tired they were.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Caroline

    Perrotta got it just right in this expertly written examination of suburban ennui and disillusionment. Little Children focuses on some young married-with-children couples and how they interact with each other, in both private and public ways. It's sometimes uncomfortable and a touch sad, and that's what makes it so great--there's real truth here. Scenes at a public pool work especially well to highlight the "suburbanness" of these characters' lives. Anyone who's ever wondered, "This is it?" when ponderi Perrotta got it just right in this expertly written examination of suburban ennui and disillusionment. Little Children focuses on some young married-with-children couples and how they interact with each other, in both private and public ways. It's sometimes uncomfortable and a touch sad, and that's what makes it so great--there's real truth here. Scenes at a public pool work especially well to highlight the "suburbanness" of these characters' lives. Anyone who's ever wondered, "This is it?" when pondering their mundane lives may find Little Children quite resonant.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trish

    Perrotta has written a caustically funny satire of thirty-something suburban American life that we laugh aloud even as we see ourselves and our faults unerringly displayed. Even with his opening salvo--descriptions of the mothers at the playground discussing their children, other mothers’ children, their husbands, their sexual habits (or not)--one cannot help but think this is one author who listens and can make a joke of even the most painful circumstance. No matter how bad or boring things get, he’ll Perrotta has written a caustically funny satire of thirty-something suburban American life that we laugh aloud even as we see ourselves and our faults unerringly displayed. Even with his opening salvo--descriptions of the mothers at the playground discussing their children, other mothers’ children, their husbands, their sexual habits (or not)--one cannot help but think this is one author who listens and can make a joke of even the most painful circumstance. No matter how bad or boring things get, he’ll be able to see what is funny in it. Perrotta takes a stab at the politically correct: skewering the liberal left (for believing the child molester was probably innocent because he wasn’t convicted of murder), and the righteous right (for believing the child molester was guilty before he was convicted of murder). The problems and insecurities and small-mindedness and flat-out lying that all the characters exhibit tell us so much more about what we think we can get away with and never can…but such outrageous and egregious faults! Perrotta must have sat around thinking of what would be the worst of all the faults one could encounter in a spouse: faithlessness, online porn and used-panty fantasist, child molester, alcoholic, serial failure…when the child molester wishes he were an alcoholic instead, one just knows there is no way to escape unscathed. But we have seen these characters, or parts of them, in the people around us. They are familiar, but not as funny as in this book. Here people are so flagrant and so flawed and so “other” that we can laugh and claim they are not us. But when our handsome no-pads neighborhood football QB and unfaithful spouse, Todd, says to his working wife, “Sarah? Sarah who?” we cringe for him, for his wife, for the children, for ourselves because he/we are fooling ourselves that we can get away with something when the game is already up. Someone has caught us out, seen us for who and what we are. But somehow, Perrotta still allows us to laugh, despite the sordid tragedy of it all.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Alix Méav

    I read Little Children after a friend recommended it to me and after I read the actual novel that inspired the movie Election. Little Children is a fantastic book to read when you're in your mid-to-late 20's-early 30's. There was something about the book to me that made me very uncomfortable in some parts because I could recognise my own fears of getting older, being a graduate student, and the possibility that so many years of schooling could amount to absolutely zero. Perhaps it is also because I grew-up in I read Little Children after a friend recommended it to me and after I read the actual novel that inspired the movie Election. Little Children is a fantastic book to read when you're in your mid-to-late 20's-early 30's. There was something about the book to me that made me very uncomfortable in some parts because I could recognise my own fears of getting older, being a graduate student, and the possibility that so many years of schooling could amount to absolutely zero. Perhaps it is also because I grew-up in the area where this fictional town exists, North of Boston, that I felt uneasy with the text. I recognised many of the references, landmarks, and the beach that Sarah and Todd runaway to for the day, I spent many a childhood afternoon. The small town, the seemingly "cliche" characters: these people ALL exist in the context of small, posh New England towns. In all, I loved the book and hated to finish it. I love a book that is not only enjoyable but makes me feel rather haunted and uneasy, and gives me a reason not to return to my hometown ever. again.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jen from Quebec :0)

    Wowzers-- If you thought the movie was good (which it was) then you'll love the book. Simply amazing. And harsh. And brutal. And real. The child molester story was hauntingly sad, and the affair with 'The Prom King' was wonderfully written. You FEEL the excitement mixed with shame oozing from the characters. This was a great read- so good that I have bought copies of this book for friends to read! --Jen from Quebec :0)

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jason Pettus

    (Full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].) For better or for worse, there are a small collection of writers out there who can be called "movie authors," for lack of a better term; those who have had multiple novels adapted into films now, because of writing screenplay-friendly books or having an amazing agent or whatever the reason. And as far as the traditional literary world, these writers can be found scattered all the way through (Full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com].) For better or for worse, there are a small collection of writers out there who can be called "movie authors," for lack of a better term; those who have had multiple novels adapted into films now, because of writing screenplay-friendly books or having an amazing agent or whatever the reason. And as far as the traditional literary world, these writers can be found scattered all the way through the food chain: from those who are highly respected in the academic community (like Michael Cunningham, for example, author of both The Hours and A Home At the End of the World), to those whose books can scarcely be called literature in the first place (like Ira Levin, author of the "screenplay novels" Sliver and Rosemary's Baby and The Stepford Wives and The Boys From Brazil...whew!), to of course all the Stephen Kings and John Grishams and Michael Crichtons of the world, who have an odd mishmash of both mainstream and literary audiences. And it might surprise some, but I'm actually a fan of several movie authors; I mean, you know, as long as you take them in the right context, and understand that the books are pretty quick reads that lend themselves to simple scripts, there are actually some pretty decent writers out there who happen to have had several manuscripts that have been shipped off to Hollywood. Take Tom Perrotta, for example, author of Election, which was made into a highly successful movie in 1999, and was in fact arguably the film that turned Reese Witherspoon into a bona-fide star; and whose book I just happened to read a number of years ago on one of those dreary Saturdays we have here in Chicago, where you want to do nothing more than read random books for free for eight hours in one of those superstores while lounging around their cafe, thin books that you would never want to actually spend money to read. And Election, to tell you the truth, turned out not only to be a lot better than I was expecting, but so much different than the movie; the original novel is quite the serious drama, as a matter of fact, not the farcical comedy the adapted screenplay turned out to be. I mean, don't get me wrong, both versions are entertaining; just that the book has a gravitas I wasn't expecting, a much darker and more pessimistic outlook towards humanity, that I really respected after thinking it was going to be a goofy Hollywood-friendly comedy. So when I learned last year that Perrotta was also the author of Little Children, made recently into an Oscar-nominated drama starring Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, Jackie Earle Haley and others, I ended up...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jay Chirino

    Expertly written, with a cynical touch that keeps you smiling while you read, Perrota paints a perfect portrait of the lives of people engulfed by routine, regrets and lives that make them fantasize for a better tomorrow.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lisa

    Little Children by Tom Perrotta: A little stream-of-consciousness exercise... Intense. Polarizing. Revolting. Train Wreck. Cloying. I know these people. I am not these people. I understand these people. Did he really just say that? Sad. Comic. A perfect satire. Upsetting. Wonderfully unlikable characters. Suburban noir. Delee must read this. So I've been in this women's book club at my lib for about a year now. We've been reading serious and usually depressing historical fiction that Little Children by Tom Perrotta: A little stream-of-consciousness exercise... Intense. Polarizing. Revolting. Train Wreck. Cloying. I know these people. I am not these people. I understand these people. Did he really just say that? Sad. Comic. A perfect satire. Upsetting. Wonderfully unlikable characters. Suburban noir. Delee must read this. So I've been in this women's book club at my lib for about a year now. We've been reading serious and usually depressing historical fiction that is aimed at a female audience. I have to say, there hasn't been a single book I've been all that psyched to take home, though a few of the selections did turn out to be pretty darn good. Anyway, I was really itching to spice things up a bit. Usually our librarian chooses the books, but the last time we got together I boldly brought a few different books with me and tried to sell them to the group. This was the one I was able to sell. So we're reading it for our next meeting. And now I am NERVOUS. I wanted to spice things up in our group and spice we will have. This book is SPICY. And a little edgy and naughty. At first I wasn't sure what I thought about it. It was kind of repulsive. But also oddly satisfying. I just couldn't put it down. But I was also kind of hiding my eyes and peeking through my fingers. By page 50 or so I had finally let go and embraced the craziness of this novel and had come around to the side of loving it. It is really, really clever. I just hope that the gals in my book club will be able to get past Slutty Kay and her champagne bottle and come to love it too. Or not. Either way, it will be an interesting night at the library. :)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Chris Gager

    Starting tonight(9-1-17) ... and, I almost forgot, R.I.P. to Denis Johnson, one of my very favorite writers, who passed away in May. Just found out about it. Not big national news I guess. When he was good(Jesus' Son, Angels, Train Dreams) he was very, very good. Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. One National Book Award for Tree of Smoke(not that good - IMHO). Got well into this last night and by the time I'd put it down(reluctantly) I had reached a pretty favorable opinion of t Starting tonight(9-1-17) ... and, I almost forgot, R.I.P. to Denis Johnson, one of my very favorite writers, who passed away in May. Just found out about it. Not big national news I guess. When he was good(Jesus' Son, Angels, Train Dreams) he was very, very good. Twice nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. One National Book Award for Tree of Smoke(not that good - IMHO). Got well into this last night and by the time I'd put it down(reluctantly) I had reached a pretty favorable opinion of the proceedings. Mr. Perotta's approach seems like a bit lighter-in-tone straightforward accounting of the tribulations of young family-hood in middle-class white, suburban America. No location is given. Doesn't matter! I'm reminded of Curtis Sittenfield's "Prep"(a bit heavier in its angsty tone) and the folks here might be her kids about 10-15 years down the road. The book is funny, but more in a rueful, squirm-inducing, chuckling kind of way rather than laugh-out-loud. Mr. P. uses his kid characters VERY well. - Todd didn't "get" calculus either. I can sympathize - Slutty Kay = sex addict. - TP is no Updike, but then, who is? - Oh NO! A head whips around. - The perv at the pool thing reminds me of some movie or TV thing years ago with Jackie Earle Haley as the perv. Gotta look it up ... and I did, and it was the film version of this book. JEH was nominated for an Oscar for best supporting actor! I must have seen it on TV. Maybe before I got rid of my TV??? Somewhere ... The movie was from 2006. The perv in the book was a fat guy, which Jackie is not, of course. Things just get curiouser and curiouser in this book. I can identify with Todd more and more as he seems to want to postpone adulthood. Or, to put it another way, he has met with adulthood and found it wanting. Who doesn't! BTW, I was mistaken in saying that this takes place nowhere in particular. It's set in Bellington(fictitious), Massachusetts. North Shore suburbs of Boston. Notes: - WHY!?!? would Todd continue to hang around with crazy Larry?!?! - Sarah's book club "empowerment" take on Madame Bovary is faintly ridiculous. Finished last night with this sneaky-good book. I loved the little smoke-out at the end. The author's prose style is pretty light, but the picture he paints is kind of grim. Not COMPLETELY grim, mind you, but daunting. As in ... how can middle-class Americans hope to find truly fulfilling and happy lives being held captive to the foolish conventions and expectations of a materialistic, competitive middle-class American lifestyle????? How do two people stay in love for even a few years inside an American marriage??? Good luck to 'em! - I don't understand why Ronnie gets no professional help. Can't we do anything sensibly and right in this culture? - Why isn't there more police involvement in Larry's harassment of Ronnie and his mother. Making Larry an ex-cop covers this particular base, I suppose. - We had a Slutty-Kay in southern Maine a few years ago. The Zumba-Lady ... Dance/fitness instructor by day, oral technician during her "off time." - Richard's beach party in SoCal was pretty funny. Heaven for him - the only happy one at the end of the book! - Final rating - 4.5* rounds down to 4* - very good, but not Updike great. - And one more little thingee ... the title might be(among other things) a reference to a pop song of the same title: 1964 - sung by Billy J. Kramer and the Dakotas.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ange H

    Wow. At over 300 pages, I enjoyed this book so much it seemed more like a short story. It reads like a steamy soap opera with lots of dark undertones and shrewd observations about parenthood and marriage; and characters who are flawed but mostly likable. Even the villain of the piece, a convicted child molester, is portrayed with a degree of sympathy. This man moves back to his mother's home after being released from prison, sending the small suburban town into panic and paranoia. His presence a Wow. At over 300 pages, I enjoyed this book so much it seemed more like a short story. It reads like a steamy soap opera with lots of dark undertones and shrewd observations about parenthood and marriage; and characters who are flawed but mostly likable. Even the villain of the piece, a convicted child molester, is portrayed with a degree of sympathy. This man moves back to his mother's home after being released from prison, sending the small suburban town into panic and paranoia. His presence among them serves as a catalyst for decisions and events that shape the lives of the other characters during that summer. I noticed the cover of the book said, "Now a Major Motion Picture." Apparently it came out in 2006 with a great cast: Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, and Jennifer Connelly. It got good reviews by both critics and viewers. Somehow I completely missed it, never heard a word about it, and now I can't wait to see it. And to read anything else Tom Perrotta has written. UPDATED: So for a rare change, my library actually had this movie and it was available. It was good and very faithful to the book except for a slight, but extremely stupid, change to the ending. Also, it’s annoying that you are expected to buy Kate Winslet as the “not pretty” character.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melanie

    3.5. I liked this. I've had this for a long time. My sister gave this 4 stars and I know it was quite popular when it first came out but when I would read the back cover I thought, hmm meh. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it. NONE of the main characters were likeable in my opinion except one, the mother of the child molester. I only had sympathy for her. If you need likeable people you won't find 'em here!

  19. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Craig

    I enjoyed the movie adaptation more, but the book is still a solid read.

  20. 4 out of 5

    LeeAnne

    If you have seen the movie adaptation of this book starring Kate Winslet, which is very good, it follows the book pretty closely until the very end. "Is That All There Is?" – Peggy Lee This is a satire about traditional suburban life in mainstream America. Almost everyone seems to be living the idyllic American dream. Two of the characters, Todd (married to Kathy) and Sarah (married to Richard) feel shackled, disillusioned and unfulfilled by the constraints and trappings of their conv If you have seen the movie adaptation of this book starring Kate Winslet, which is very good, it follows the book pretty closely until the very end. "Is That All There Is?" – Peggy Lee This is a satire about traditional suburban life in mainstream America. Almost everyone seems to be living the idyllic American dream. Two of the characters, Todd (married to Kathy) and Sarah (married to Richard) feel shackled, disillusioned and unfulfilled by the constraints and trappings of their conventional suburban life. There’s got to be something better than this, right? In high school Todd was a popular football star. He’s in his mid-thirties now but still incredibly handsome and fit. Todd feels emasculated, powerless and insignificant in his matronly role as a stay-at-home dad. Todd has never held a job and has become complacent in his role as a mother figure. His wife Kathy resents his lack of ambition, is tired of being the family breadwinner and would prefer to be a traditional stay at home mom. Sara dropped out of graduate school to enter a marriage with a financially secure but unattractive older man to escape a life in a monotonous office job. Her husband has developed an unhealthy obsession with an Internet porn star. Sara feels trapped in her loveless marriage and in her role as a stay-at-home mom to their 3-yr-old daughter. To get through her mind-numbing days, Sara constantly tells herself: "think like an anthropologist. I'm a researcher studying the behavior of boring suburban women. I am not a boring suburban woman myself." Todd’s wife, Kathy, and his lover, Sara, are interesting contrast. Kathy is drop dead gorgeous with the flawless appearance of a professional model. She has a fascinating career as a successful filmmaker of documentaries but she really wants to stay home and raise children. In contrast, Sarah is frumpy, squat and plain with frizzy hair. She is a stay-at home mom married to a man she loathes. Sara longs for the seemingly glamorous career, physical beauty and husband that Kathy has. Each woman covets the life that the other woman is living. There is a section in this book called “Madam Bovary”. Sara joins a neighborhood book club and they read Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert (1857). Madam Bovary and Little Children have some parallel themes: infidelity, unrealistic expectations of life and love, how traditional feminine roles in society are undervalued and belittled and how we are all ultimately responsible for the choices we make in life. During the book club discussion Sara’s adversary, Mary Ann, an extremely conservative woman, slams Madam Bovary for being a “slut”. Sarah defends the character, calling her a feminist and praising her efforts to struggle against the constraints society as heroic. She says: “Madame Bovary’s problem wasn’t that she committed adultery,” Sarah declared, in a voice full of calm certainty. “It was she committed adultery with losers. She never found a partner worthy of her heroic passion.” Hummmmmmm. lol! There is also a seedy subplot about a convicted pedophile who moves into the neighborhood. His appearance sets the already nervous parents into hyper-overprotection overdrive. I think the presence of this sordid character might be a device to highlight the point that there is behavior far more heinous than infidelity. Some reviewers have expressed sympathy for this character, personally I found him repellant and creepy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Sullivan

    This biting satire of suburban domestic malaise delivers a cast of characters for whom you can’t help but sympathize despite how generally unlikeable they are. Sarah and Todd develop a connection at the town pool where they each day their toddlers every day. Bored and unfulfilled by their own marriages, they quickly escalate into a secret affair, each seeking in the other something to fill that void. Meanwhile, Sarah’s husband nurtures a perverted new fetish and Todd’s wife This biting satire of suburban domestic malaise delivers a cast of characters for whom you can’t help but sympathize despite how generally unlikeable they are. Sarah and Todd develop a connection at the town pool where they each day their toddlers every day. Bored and unfulfilled by their own marriages, they quickly escalate into a secret affair, each seeking in the other something to fill that void. Meanwhile, Sarah’s husband nurtures a perverted new fetish and Todd’s wife dutifully goes to work every day, wishing she wasn’t stuck being the breadwinner. And to add another layer of tension to this hot and volatile summer, a known child molester has just been released from prison—and lives among all of them. Written in the early 2000s, there are already aspects of this novel that feel surprisingly dated or even problematic. But Perrotta cares about these characters, and infuses even the worst of them with reasons for us to feel sympathy for them. It’s an often uncomfortable experience, and despite the dark humor throughout, there’s that sense of desperate melancholy in discovering, inevitably, that our deepest of voids may only ever be filled temporarily—and with lasting consequences.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jen from Quebec :0)

    Wowzers-- If you thought the movie was good (which it was) then you'll love the book. Simply amazing. And harsh. And brutal. And real. The child molester story was hauntingly sad, and the affair between mousy Sarah and Todd, 'The Prom King', was wonderfully written. You can FEEL the excitement of the 2 parents involved in their affair (extra-marital sex breaks up the monotony of parenting in the suburbs), but also their shame- it oozed from the characters. Sarah + Todd and their passionate love Wowzers-- If you thought the movie was good (which it was) then you'll love the book. Simply amazing. And harsh. And brutal. And real. The child molester story was hauntingly sad, and the affair between mousy Sarah and Todd, 'The Prom King', was wonderfully written. You can FEEL the excitement of the 2 parents involved in their affair (extra-marital sex breaks up the monotony of parenting in the suburbs), but also their shame- it oozed from the characters. Sarah + Todd and their passionate love for one another (despite each being married to other people) is the main focus of the story, with the other central plotline being one much darker in tone, involving a child molester moving to the town. Since 'retiring' from the police force after mistakenly killing a teenager, recently divorced Larry makes torturing registered sex offender Ronnie his new mission, going to extremes like spray painting 'EVIL' on the driveway of Ronnie's house, for example. The house in question though, is actually Ronnie's mother's, as he lives with Ma after getting out of jail, and it is HER- Mrs.McGovern- whom I feel the most sympathy for out of all the characters in 'Little Children'. An aging mom who desperately wants Ronnie to "please please be a good boy", she bears the brunt of the abuse hurled at Ronnie by Larry + others in town and is perhaps the only single character that is a true innocent victim in this cast- all of the other adults/parents in this book have many faults, and indeed spend their time indulging their own selfish desires without thinking of others- just like real...'Little Children.' This was a great novel, and fantastically written- so good, in fact, that I have bought copies of this book for friends as gifts. --Jen from Quebec :0)

  23. 4 out of 5

    Udai

    A lot of people find it hard to remember the first good movie that they ever saw. For me it is a piece of cake. It's this movie that struck me so hard that I kept gazing at the black screen with the cast names in bewilderment. It was so neat and so tidy. Everything was a little bit cheesy in the start giving you the feel-good movie feeling. The lovely voice of the narrator that entertained you even though he was talking about Richard's creepy fetish. A lot of dark humor. And then just at the end A lot of people find it hard to remember the first good movie that they ever saw. For me it is a piece of cake. It's this movie that struck me so hard that I kept gazing at the black screen with the cast names in bewilderment. It was so neat and so tidy. Everything was a little bit cheesy in the start giving you the feel-good movie feeling. The lovely voice of the narrator that entertained you even though he was talking about Richard's creepy fetish. A lot of dark humor. And then just at the end everything twists around, and instead of giving you the end that you want this movie gives you the end that you deserve. Why did it take me so long to read the novel? I just wanted time to try forget the movie –like it's going to happen!- or maybe just wait for its effect to fade. I also wanted to read it in a phase in my life that I'll be able to absorb the full meaning of it. This isn't a happy novel. Matter of fact if the word disappointment turned into a novel it would be "Little Children". Perrotta's prose is so strong and engaging you can't but flow through the pages. His way of writing is very distinguished, the details he gives stick in the memory forever. And the most important thing is that his novels leave you with the feeling of missing limbs. Somehow I always feel like they're not finished. I always want to know what happens next. But he doesn't tell you –I don't see him as a sequels guy- and that's what's so good about him. He always leaves me – the reader- with a sense of loss, with the feeling of sadness for leaving the characters behind. I'm really disappointed by the novel – in a good way- its ending is even more careless and disappointing than the movie – just like real life. This is the novel you should read if you feel like you're spinning in the same circle of old shit. By the time I'm 31 I'll read this novel again and there are two possibilities: 1. I really like it because it is so true, I cry, I kill myself. 2. I hate it, laugh at myself for liking it before, burn that shit. Hopefully the latter, but until then …… this was fiiiine, just fine.

  24. 4 out of 5

    sdattybride

    While not every aspect of the story necessarily rings true, Perotta does a fantastic job of creating a secret world between Sarah and Todd, using the characters' own flaws to develop his story and build suspense. Personally, I don't know that the sex-offender subplot did much for the story and I could've done without it, particularly considering its overall "preachy" tone (which may be unavoidable when writing about so delicate a subject). While I can appreciate that the idea was to parallel a l While not every aspect of the story necessarily rings true, Perotta does a fantastic job of creating a secret world between Sarah and Todd, using the characters' own flaws to develop his story and build suspense. Personally, I don't know that the sex-offender subplot did much for the story and I could've done without it, particularly considering its overall "preachy" tone (which may be unavoidable when writing about so delicate a subject). While I can appreciate that the idea was to parallel a local public scandal against the fragile world created by Sarah and Todd's own private scandal, Perotta gave himself enough to work with in Sarah and Todd and their respective situations and personalities that he could have developed his story without the outside element. Their little world was in itself so unstable that it didn't need the outside impetus to implode, and I found it a little disappointing that Perotta's focus was distracted. However, I found the book, in all its scandalousness, juicy and enjoyable; in my opinion Perotta is a modern Tolstoy, a master of pinpointing banal but heartwrenching details. Plus-- I'm sure it would be fun to discuss in a book club!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Mark R.

    So far this year, I've been doing a great job of picking out books exactly in line with my tastes. This Tom Perrotta book was an enjoyable quick read, an appropriate change of pace after "The Denial of Death," which was the last thing I read--and a book I had a hard time getting my mind off of, days afterwards. Perrotta writes in a relatively straight-forward manner, with lots of dialogue. Lots of really fucking GREAT dialogue. The story is about a few early-thirties-aged individuals So far this year, I've been doing a great job of picking out books exactly in line with my tastes. This Tom Perrotta book was an enjoyable quick read, an appropriate change of pace after "The Denial of Death," which was the last thing I read--and a book I had a hard time getting my mind off of, days afterwards. Perrotta writes in a relatively straight-forward manner, with lots of dialogue. Lots of really fucking GREAT dialogue. The story is about a few early-thirties-aged individuals in a small town, in which a convicted child molester has just moved back to, taking up residence with his mother. A man and a woman, both bored with their home lives, start seeing each other, and the guy joins an amateur tackle football league with a bunch of cops, and routinely harrasses the ex-con at his mother's home. Summarizing isn't something I do particularly well, so I'm going to leave it at that. The book is mostly about characters, and less so about plot, up until the end, which starts to feel somewhat plotted, but then goes in a direction that went completely agains what I'd been expecting.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Abigail Hillinger

    Oh, Tom Perrotta. How I adore you. There is one common denominator in Perrotta books: infidelity/adultery. I've often questioned whether this is a common denominator in Perrotta's relationships, as well, or simply a fantasty he entertains. But whatever, I digress. Little Children is a dark satire into middle/upper-class suburbia, where moms at the playground compete with each other on who has the nicest J. Crew khakis or who remembers to bring the snacks, stay-at Oh, Tom Perrotta. How I adore you. There is one common denominator in Perrotta books: infidelity/adultery. I've often questioned whether this is a common denominator in Perrotta's relationships, as well, or simply a fantasty he entertains. But whatever, I digress. Little Children is a dark satire into middle/upper-class suburbia, where moms at the playground compete with each other on who has the nicest J. Crew khakis or who remembers to bring the snacks, stay-at-home-dads can be labeled "Prom King", and women with sexual ambiguity can still mourn the loss of their college girlfriends who left them to marry rich male doctors, while looking after their children and remaining oblivious that their husbands are addicted to online smut. Ah, Suburbia. The main characters, Sarah (sexual ambiguous girl) and Todd ("Prom King") begin an unlikely affair, considering Sarah is frumpy, frizzy, and frazzled, and Todd is extremely handsome. Sarah fantasizes about running away together while Todd fantastizes about avoiding the BAR exam that his wife desperately wants him to pass. The story complicates when a convinced sex-offender/pedophile, Ronnie, moves to town, a man known for "exposing" himself to girl scouts, and also suspected for the murder of a nine-year-old, which has never been proven. Oh, and of course, there's Larry, the retired cop who becomes obsessed with Ronnie, even though the person who gets the brunt of Larry's obsession is poor Ronnie's mother, the only character you'll actually like. And that's mostly a pity-like. Overall, a very dark read, sometimes hard to get through, always interesting. You won't root for anybody but yet you'll like them all. Perrotta has a gift for making the mundane interesting, for pointing out everything that may or does happen in every-day life. A great read among the many other books he has to offer.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I was disturbed by the topics raised in this book not so much because I am a prude but rather because I'm an idealist. Perhaps I am a bit naive but I'd certainly like to think that infidelity is less common place than the literary world makes it seem. Perrota definitely likes to incorporate sexuality into his writing and Little Children is no exception. Oddly, I found the characterization of the convicted child molester less unsettling than the pantie-sniffing web surfer or his wife's affair. We I was disturbed by the topics raised in this book not so much because I am a prude but rather because I'm an idealist. Perhaps I am a bit naive but I'd certainly like to think that infidelity is less common place than the literary world makes it seem. Perrota definitely likes to incorporate sexuality into his writing and Little Children is no exception. Oddly, I found the characterization of the convicted child molester less unsettling than the pantie-sniffing web surfer or his wife's affair. Were it not for the subject matter, in all likelihood I would have rated this as at least a four star novel because Perrota is a master storyteller, his pacing is admirable. He alternates between characters, their overlapping stories intersecting, their alternate views offering a glimpse into varying perspectives. The book begins slowly, reeling the reader in bit by bit, rationed pieces of information dropped like a frustrated parent dispensing M & M's in an attempt to lure the reluctant toddler out of the toy store. As the intensity of the story increase so too does the pacing. The time spent on each character shortens, whipping back and forth between characters rapidly. Perrota knows just when to end a section leaving the reader in suspense as he switches to someone else's view. At times I was tempted to skip ahead in order to satisfy my curiosity regarding a particular character. But before I could decide I was engrossed in the next character's perspective, again curious, again itching to find out what would happen. That said, I found the ending surprisingly abrupt and utterly unsatisfying. There were too many unanswered questions as well as behavior that simply did not jive with several of the characters' previous actions.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gemma

    Man, I have a difficult time with this book (especially in light of recently seeing the movie). Perrotta uses his usual awkward grace in developing awkward characters, and created a novel more complete and thoughtful than any of his previous ones. He still has some of the same problems as in his earlier novels (the random addition of a secondary or tertiary character's perspective for just one brief segment, for convenience in the plot, is as annoying here as it is in Election), but I felt like was making Man, I have a difficult time with this book (especially in light of recently seeing the movie). Perrotta uses his usual awkward grace in developing awkward characters, and created a novel more complete and thoughtful than any of his previous ones. He still has some of the same problems as in his earlier novels (the random addition of a secondary or tertiary character's perspective for just one brief segment, for convenience in the plot, is as annoying here as it is in Election), but I felt like was making a story more than the sum of its parts. However, I'm always just a little creeped out by a message that he seems to be pushing by the end (I've read it a coupla times now, so obviously something charms me), that a lot of your satisfaction depends on your attractiveness and there's really not much you can do about that, 'tleast in the suburban East Coast communities he's portraying here. It may be true, I wouldn't know, but it's an unsettling thing to keep from a good novel.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ellen

    A quick and enjoyable read, with lots to say about what marriage and love and child-rearing really mean. What they really mean, according to Perotta, is a lot of unfulfilled fantasies, disappointments, and a touch of real enjoyment. Since I generally view life in this sort of semi-cynical way, I found a lot to identify with in this book. Another aspect of the book that I liked was the way Perotta dealt with the arrival of a convicted sex offender in the sleepy suburban neighborhood he paints so A quick and enjoyable read, with lots to say about what marriage and love and child-rearing really mean. What they really mean, according to Perotta, is a lot of unfulfilled fantasies, disappointments, and a touch of real enjoyment. Since I generally view life in this sort of semi-cynical way, I found a lot to identify with in this book. Another aspect of the book that I liked was the way Perotta dealt with the arrival of a convicted sex offender in the sleepy suburban neighborhood he paints so convincingly. I liked his light touch, his suggestions that neither utter condemnation nor complete forgiveness are appropriate for Ronnie, "the pervert." Ronnie is a horribly unpleasant character, but he is capable of love, loneliness, and shame, just like the rest of us. And Ronnie's great adversary, Larry, is also very unpleasantly flawed. Three cheers for books that admit there is gray in the world and not just black and white!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jenny (Reading Envy)

    I don't usually read a book after seeing the movie, but there were a few memorable lines in the movie that I was hoping originated in the book. An interesting story about the choices you make in your daily life, combating the terror of normality that hits once you have become an adult, and the consequences of both. "What was adult life but one moment of weakness piled on top of another? Most people just fell in line like obedient little children, doing exactly what society expected of I don't usually read a book after seeing the movie, but there were a few memorable lines in the movie that I was hoping originated in the book. An interesting story about the choices you make in your daily life, combating the terror of normality that hits once you have become an adult, and the consequences of both. "What was adult life but one moment of weakness piled on top of another? Most people just fell in line like obedient little children, doing exactly what society expected of them at any given moment, all the while pretending that they'd actually made some sort of choice."

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