Book Review: Little Children by Tom Perrotta

Little Children by Tom PerrottaSeveral people had been raving about this book so I added this book to my wishlist on Bookmooch. It was definitely worth the read.

I know Tom Perrotta has a new book out, The Leftovers, that I’ve seen good reviews about, so Little Children is certainly not my last book by this author.

Little Children: What it is about

Sarah is the mother of 3-year old Lucy. She is a stay-at-home mother with a much older husband. At the playground, some mothers discuss a stay-at-home father who they call the Prom King as he’s very handsome. But they haven’t dared to talk to him when he’s been at the playground.

The next time he’s there, Sarah moves in to talk to him and, in the presence of the other mums, kisses him. They start an affair.

Todd, the father in question, is studying for his bar exams, but when an old friend asks him to join his new Concerned Parents group, he does and spends his time with him, rather than studying. The group, mainly consisting of Larry, the friend, and now Todd, spend their evenings bothering a man that has just been released from prison after a sentence for indecent exposure to a child. The paedophile is not welcome and Larry lets him know in any way he can. Todd doesn’t want to get involved too much but doesn’t want to let his friend down, either.

These and some more issues keep the thirty-something parents of little children busy.

Little Children: What I thought

I enjoyed reading this book a lot, although it started off with Sarah kissing Todd in the playground after having met 5 minutes before. That seemed pretty unlikely to me, a sort of wishful thinking from the author, maybe.

The book dealt mainly with the topic of obsession, or strong attraction: Sarah to Todd, and vice versa, the paedophile, Ronnie, to children, and Sarah’s husband to an internet porn star.

There was also the topic of standing up for yourself (or not): Todd accompanies Larry on his visits to Ronnie’s house and although he doesn’t actually agree with what Larry does there (shouting with a megaphone that Ronnie should leave, leaving dog poo on the doorstep), he doesn’t dare to stand up and tell Larry he doesn’t want to be involved anymore.

Sarah goes a long way in keeping the peace at the playground, where one Mary Ann is the queen mum, and the other mums better agree with her, or else! After Sarah’s kiss, she’s completely out of favour and none of the mums want to talk to her anymore.

The presence of a paedophile in an area where children live (and that’s of course almost everywhere – Ronnie actually moved back in with his mother, so he didn’t choose this location) makes for an interesting discussion. Of course you don’t want someone like that near your home, but doesn’t he need to live somewhere too? And how can you be sure that your children are safe anyway – even if there’s no convicted paedophile nearby, there may be one hiding in the bushes that hasn’t been caught yet.

I think this book would make a good discussion in a book club. I loved the book and would have been happy to discuss this book with my book club and maybe I’ll suggest it for a future meeting.

Rating: 5/5

I got this book: got it in a book swap on bookmooch

I read this in: English, the original language

Number of pages: 358

First published: 2004

Genre: contemporary fiction


About Leeswammes
I'm owner and editor at In my free time, I read and review books on my two blogs, Leeswammes' Blog and De Boekblogger.

22 Responses to Book Review: Little Children by Tom Perrotta

  1. Tes says:

    What a lovely review, Judith! I think I will enjoy this book, too 🙂

    • Leeswammes says:

      Tes, I think this is a book for anyone with little children. I think it appeals to many people. Although I wasn’t so keen on the adultery between Sarah and Todd…

  2. Nadine Nys says:

    I have The Leftovers on my wishlist, I think I will add this one too… One book more will not do any harm.

  3. My book club read this a few years ago, I was shocked by the gal who recommended it but after reading it… there was so much to discuss!

    It’s creepy but a book I still think about. That makes for a good story.

    Glad you enjoyed it!

  4. Kristi says:

    We seem to be reading in almost in sync. I have this one waiting for me at the library to pick up. I’m really excited about it so it will probably be read as soon as I get it next week. I’m so glad to hear another positive review of it.

  5. This does sound very interesting. I agree with you, starting an affair in 5 minutes seems unlikely. But the rest of the book seemed to work very well. I am adding this to my TBR list, as I have been wanting to read something by this author.

  6. This book was… difficult for me. Maybe it was the time I read it, but I thought it was thoroughly depressing, and there were more than a few “out there” elements for me. On the other hand, my best friend LOVED it, and she is typically not a lit fic person. So. There you have it. I will say it has made me much less interested in picking up The Leftovers, and I always hate when that happens.

    • Leeswammes says:

      A pity you didn’t enjoy this one, picky girl. I didn’t see it as depressing, but there is so much in the book that maybe you focused on other things than I did. Well, we can’t all like the same books.

  7. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out says:

    Sounds intriguing!

    Wishing you a happy new year!
    Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out

  8. Trisha says:

    A 5 out of 5 rating?!? I will definitely add this one to the wish list.

  9. Laura says:

    I liked this book a lot when I read it, so I’m glad you did too! The film is also worth a watch, because it gives a whole other perspective on Ronnie which I found really interesting (I accidentally watched the film before I read the book because I didn’t realise it *was* a book…)

  10. I read Perrotta’s recent release The Leftovers, and while good, wasn’t what I expected and I really didn’t come out liking it as much as I wanted to. I’ve heard, instead, that Little Children is the one I need to read. Reading your review has confirmed it 🙂

    Have a safe and Happy New Year!

  11. Colleen says:

    I read Little Children a few years ago on the recommendation of a friend. I really liked it and look forward to readin more by the author. The book was also made into a movie but I haven’t seen it – probably won’t since I liked the book so much it is unlikely the movie can live up.

    Glad you liked it too!

  12. Great review, Judith…and you’re right. Who knows where children will be safe? The themes in the book were intriguing. I loved the movie, too, starring Kate Winslet and an actor whose name I can’t recall…lol.

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