Book Review: Little Children by Tom Perrotta
December 30, 2011 22 Comments
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.
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