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Little Children

3.59 of 5 stars 3.59  ·  rating details  ·  22,228 ratings  ·  1,826 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 355 pages
Published January 1st 2005 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2004)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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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
...more
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 is aimed at
...more
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
...more
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 ...more
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
...more
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 the foo
...more
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. But be warned
...more
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 conventional sub
...more
Levi
I'm usually not this harsh in my criticisms of a book and I can often find something redeeming in any story but this is just one of the most overrated novels I've ever read. I was so excited to read it when I heard talk about it and saw it on bookshelves but I was sorely mistaken. This book reads like a harlequin piece trying to dress itself as high literature and it fails on both ends. The characters are plastic, unlikeable and unbelievable and the story is asinine and flails arround trying to ...more
Fewlas
Due stelle e mezzo.
Sono un po’ delusa. Dopo aver letto ”Intrigo scolastico” credevo di aver capito quali fossero i punti forti di questo autore: l’arguzia, l’ironia, la caratterizzazione precisa dei personaggi, la sua capacità di dipingere realisticamente eppure con fantasia e trovate originali gli ambienti e le situazioni della vita quotidiana. Ovvero, io credevo di ritrovare tutto questo anche in ”Bravi bambini”, anche perché è il libro di Perrotta del quale di solito si parla di più. Inoltre,
...more
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 ...more
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 in a small t
...more
Karen
This book doesn't just beg the question, but shouts it.... Do people really ever "grow-up"? When I saw the movie version of this book, I couldn't understand why the author titled this book Little Children. It became clear as day during my journey through the book, so much so that I don't think any other title would have worked.

Perrotta is one heck of a writer. The way he can write about the various women in this book in such an intense, factual, realistic and emotional way, was a stroke of geni
...more
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 ...more
Abigail Hillinger
Apr 18, 2007 Abigail Hillinger rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anybody willing to dip into the Dark Side.
Shelves: fiction
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
...more
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 ...more
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
...more
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 them at any
...more
Becca
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Izlinda
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Heather
I really liked this novel--intelligently constructed, defined characters, realistic resolution. I did not, however, enjoy the story. I think there was too much going on--the sex offender, while definitely a part of the story, was more an afterthought. The same could be said for Larry Moon--his existence is so tertiary, you have to wonder if he wasn't created solely to torment Ronnie McGorvey.

The true meat of this tale is the love affair between Sarah and Todd, with less emphasis on the happy end
...more
Bernie
May 24, 2007 Bernie rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who like to think
If possible, read this book before seeing the movie...although i think the movie did a very respectable job of capturing the main issues of the book.

How refreshing to have a writer who questions the "PC-ness" of American society, the direction this country is heading further into. It's interesting to examine the mores of a suburban community - the self-righteousness of new mothers, the husbands who blindly follow their wives' rage in order not to rock the boat, the people who set themselves up a
...more
Brian
I don't remember where I heard about this book, but I do remember that I put it on my reading list because it was essentially about the "secret" lives of stay-at-home parents who visit the local playground with their kids. Tom Perrotta does a great job showing us the needs and desires of these parents, as they search for meaning (and love) in their lives. The characters are lots of fun too: Sarah, the former feminist who swore she wouldn't be the SAHM and ends up marrying an internet porn addict ...more
Spring
It's a depressing book about the empty, selfish lives of people in the 'burbs. People looking for someone to save them from the reality of ordinary lives.

Quotes from the book:

"It wasn't that easy to tell one weekday from the next anymore; they all just melted together like a bag of crayons left out in the sun."

"I am a painfully ordinary person ... destined to live a painfully ordinary life."

"If there was one thing life had taught him, it was that it was ridiculous to be at war with your own desi
...more
Carolynn
May 08, 2008 Carolynn rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: most readers
To be brief, this is a very well written piece, something I would call a dark comic drama. Not too unlike American Beauty (the movie). It deeply criticizes the suburban family in a way that is never excessive, just smart. The best asset of this tale is that it's satire is delivered through complex and unforgettable characters. Ones who get addicted to anti-child-molester comittees, parkbench gossip, and even panty-sniffing.

Truly a great read which most people I know on here will totally love. .
...more
Adrienne Girard
May 08, 2008 Adrienne Girard rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who are sometimes cynical, independent women
Recommended to Adrienne by: Christine Z.
a laugh-out-loud tale from a new jersey author. (lines like the one about the patron saint of the failed bar exam are priceless.) was like reading a version of "desperate housewives" that could inspire intellectual conversations about psychology, as the characters seemed more like exaggerations than actual people to me, and they spend most of their time in the vacuum that is their suburb.

i think this book struck a chord with me b/c i am a few years younger than some of the characters, so i worri
...more
Barbara
Tom Perrotta's novel, "Little Children", might well be entitled, "Parents", for it focuses on the lives of several married couples living the suburban lifestyle. The title could very well refer to the immature actions and decisons of these people and the tenuous bonds which they have formed in their marriages.Indeed, the children are loved, but the story that unfolds tells of adultery, pornography, and often many failures to acheive any realistic goals in thier lives. To complicate matters, a co ...more
Jeanette
No review, just a reaction. And I never saw the movie. I almost gave this book a one star, but I didn't think that was fair. Mainly because of the better than adequate level of writing and for the art of observation that has a stinging knack for humor. Both aspects are not inconsiderable.

My enjoyment of the novel was a one. These people were stereotypes and unlike any group of suburbanites I have ever known. The park group seemed more like a group of women interviewing for sorority or some type
...more
Aleathia Drehmer
May 08, 2008 Aleathia Drehmer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone with a faltering marriage
This book ripped my heart out....almost literally. I saw so much of myself in the main character and that made it cut twice as hard. The book itself is smoothly written and very easy to read. I was compelled to keep reading and found myself hours into the book without realizing it. It really grasps a true sense of how an extra marital affair might develop when it isnt looked for.
J.M. Slowik
May 24, 2013 J.M. Slowik rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: "Grown-ups"
Tom Perrotta puts down a lot of flawless paragraphs...

This is altogether really sharp, and funny, and smart. The characters are fully realized, torn-from-life, more human than typical literary characters. I shouldn't have to describe the plot for you-- just read it!
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Cafe Libri: May: Little Children by Tom Perrotta 2 2 May 14, 2014 12:02PM  
The movie in comparison to the book. 4 58 Mar 16, 2012 06:47PM  
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Tom Perrotta (born August 13, 1961) is an American novelist and screenwriter best known for his novels Election (1998) and Little Children (2004), both of which were made into critically acclaimed, Golden Globe-nominated films. Perrotta co-wrote the screenplay for the 2006 film version of Little Children with Todd Field, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay ...more
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“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.” 83 likes
“It's not the cheating. It's the hunger for an alternative. The refusal to accept unhappiness.” 47 likes
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