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Little Children

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  28,628 ratings  ·  2,222 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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3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  28,628 ratings  ·  2,222 reviews

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Feb 01, 2016 rated it really liked it
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 h
May 30, 2007 rated it it was ok
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
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at:

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
B the BookAddict
Oct 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction

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'
Jul 25, 2007 rated it did not like it
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
Timothy Urges
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Cheeky Cher
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-misc
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
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 ...more
Jul 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: novels
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
Jen from Quebec :0)
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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)
Jason Pettus
Jun 22, 2007 rated it really liked it
(Full review can be found at the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [].)

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
Jay Chirino
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
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.
Oct 19, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: whittemore-women
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
Chris Gager
Sep 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
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 proceedin
Ange H
Dec 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
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
Crystal Craig
May 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed the movie adaptation more, but the book is still a solid read.
Aug 31, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction-i-own
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!
Dec 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fic
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
Jessica Sullivan
Jun 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
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
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
May 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, novels
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 ...more
Apr 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 12, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
Abigail Hillinger
Apr 18, 2007 rated it liked it
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
May 10, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: general-fiction
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
Mar 07, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Aug 29, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Jan 03, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read09
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
Patricia Williams
Aug 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is an author I have really enjoyed reading. This book was very good and different. It is just a story about a group of neighbors and how their lives intersect. So it may seem like a simple story but there is a lot going on in the background to bring the people together by the end of the book. Really good read, really quick read. I plan to watch the movie soon as I want to see the characters come to life.
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Tom Perrotta is the bestselling author of nine works of fiction, including Election and Little Children, both of which were made into Oscar-nominated films, and The Leftovers, which was adapted into a critically acclaimed, Peabody Award-winning HBO series. His work has been translated into a multitude of languages. Perrotta grew up in New Jersey and lives outside of Boston.
“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.” 134 likes
“It's not the cheating. It's the hunger for an alternative. The refusal to accept unhappiness.” 60 likes
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