Little Children: A Novel Hardcover – Mar 19 2004
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From Publishers Weekly
The characters in this intelligent, absorbing tale of suburban angst are constrained and defined by their relationship to children. There's Sarah, an erstwhile bisexual feminist who finds herself an unhappy mother and wife to a branding consultant addicted to Internet porn. There's Todd, a handsome ex-jock and stay-at-home dad known to neighborhood housewives as the Prom King, who finds in house-husbandry and reveries about his teenage glory days a comforting alternative to his wife's demands that he pass the bar and get on with a law career. There's Mary Ann, an uptight supermom who schedules sex with her husband every Tuesday at nine and already has her well-drilled four-year-old on the inside track to Harvard. And there's Ronnie, a pedophile whose return from prison throws the school district into an uproar, and his mother, May, who still harbors hopes that her son will turn out well after all. In the midst of this universe of mild to fulminating family dysfunction, Sarah and Todd drift into an affair that recaptures the passion of adolescence, that fleeting liminal period of freedom and possibility between the dutiful rigidities of childhood and parenthood. Perrotta (Election; Joe College; etc.) views his characters with a funny, acute and sympathetic eye, using the well-observed antics of preschoolers as a telling backdrop to their parents' botched transitions into adulthood. Once again, he proves himself an expert at exploring the roiling psychological depths beneath the placid surface of suburbia.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Perrotta sent up the foibles of high-schoolers in Election (1998) and of Ivy Leaguers in Joe College (2000). Here, in warmly humorous prose, he takes on the thirtysomething parents of young children. Handsome stay-at-home dad Todd, dubbed the Prom King by the moms at the playground, secretly grooves to Raffi and loves staging horrific train wrecks with his young son; he has flunked the bar exam twice and can sense his wife's increasing exasperation, but he can't force himself to study. Although Sarah has a Ph.D. in feminist studies, she is completely flummoxed by her toddler's temper tantrums and her husband's seeming infatuation with a pornographic Web site. Sarah and Todd fall into an unlikely affair, and although they know they are acting out of desperation to escape problems on the home front, their relationship is full of electric sex and genuine emotion. Perrotta, with a light but sure hand, expertly sketches the angst of the playground set and then amps up his material with a subplot involving a child molester. A fast-reading, wholly engaging novel. Joanne Wilkinson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
The character of Sarah is well drawn, but the rest of the cast is just too thin. Larry the cop (with a stale back story right out of 'Die Hard') and Todd's wife, who supposedly makes documentary films--but in neither case does Mr. Perrotta succeed in painting real people. Todd's wife never says a word about her crew, her budget, or her equipment. Add to this the rather contrived attempt to create suspense at the end with poor Ronnie the child killer and you have an unsatisying read.
Perrotta's characters are likable and, on a modest scale, tragic; from Sarah's halfhearted forays into being a strong-minded, independent feminist to Mary Ann's hard-won Martha Stewart perfection, their very natures are what will dictate the course of their lives and their inevitable discontent.
LITTLE CHILDREN is certainly a pleasure to read, with all of the sly humor and deft observation that Perrotta does so well. Whether it's the subtle jockeying for power among playground mothers, or the threadbare, joyless sexual relationship between long-married spouses, his prose is sparkling and clever.
Surrounded by abundance and prosperity, free from any real hardship, the characters must invent reasons to be unhappy in order to give their lives dramatic shape; deliberating over which playground to take their children to, or which fruit juice is really the healthiest, only points up the futility and insignificance of their existence.Read more ›
Sarah, an immature bisexual housewife who is disinterested in her 3-year-old daughter, Lucy. Lucy is still in diapers and her language appears to be behind that of her peers. Sarah's husband is an ineffectual boorish oaf who becomes addicted to cyber porn and even leaves Sarah for a cyber porn model. He was previously married and has adult twin daughters from that first union.
Todd: The only likable adult character. He is married to a ruthless, driven woman who hounds him to take the Bar exam. He appeases his wife by pretending to take the exam. To his credit, he finds joy in spending time with his son, 3-year-old Aaron. Todd's son and Lucy's daughter are developmentally on the same plane. In time, Todd and Sarah become lovers after Sarah boldy flirts with and kisses Todd on the playground in plain sight of the other playground mothers. This comes as no real surprise to readers.
Mary-Ann was truly for the birds and was just so impossible to like. A ruthless barracuda, she schedules intimacy with the impersonal precision of a board (or in this case bored) meeting. She is a gold digger, having married Louis only for his bank account, stocks and portfolio. I didn't like the way she had her pre-schoolers go to bed at 7:30 just so as to make HER life easier. She did not appear to be interested in her son and daughter and had all the loving warmth of a clinical report or financial statement.
Larry - a thuggish boor of a cop who started an evening football team. He also hounds the town misfit, Ronnie and, like Sarah's husband is the father of twins. Unlike the boor/bore Sarah married, Larry's twins are boys and he is not fully divorced.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
My wife was riveted to this book, so I thought I'd give it a try. It is largely 'chick lit', but Perrotta's writing is engaging and his situations are funny.Published on Oct. 27 2013 by carl
This one was actually pretty good. I got it on sale and was a little skeptical as to whether or not I would like it (the synopsis didn't sound THAT good), but I did! Read morePublished on Dec 28 2012 by rmt.nicoleg
Often if I see a movie I really like I’ll read the book, which is what happened with Little Children. Read morePublished on April 28 2007 by Teddy
This time around, Perrotta takes satirical aim at the stifling confinement of suburban middle-class existence. Read morePublished on June 1 2005 by Sharon Turner
Although this was a well-written book, I didn't care for most of the characters.
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