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Little Children by Tom Perotta

9 Ratings: 4.0
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Author: Tom Perotta
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Date Published: September 19, 2006 (2nd ed.)
1 review about Little Children by Tom Perotta

Lonely Parents

  • Mar 5, 2009
  • by

This is one of the best books I have read in years. This is kind of a "yuppie" version of a Richard Russo novel. The story has various characters that face many of the same temptations as most people do and seem to act on them without thought to the consequences to their lives.

The two main characters are Todd, a "thirtyish" father who never stopped being a teenage football hero that all the girls were crazy about in high school. Todd got married to one of the popular girls (Kathy) from college, who become the typical working mother who kept her good looks. Todd is supposed to be using the summer days to study for the bar exam but he prefers to hang out in front of skateboarders and envy them and he later gets roped into playing a dangerous game of football in a league with some cops.

Then there is Sarah, who is like a lost teenager, unsure about her sexuality, who married an older man just to try to bring some sanity to her life. She is a good mother but still looking for meaning in her life. Her husband loves to use the Internet chat sites and gets involved with some pornographic sites. One day Sarah catches him doing something "disgusting" and loses whatever feeling she may have had for him.

Sarah, hangs out at the playground with her young daughter trying to "fit in" with the other mothers there but she finds their conversations empty and finds the women annoying, especially Mary Ann, a control freak that already has her four year old on a path to Harvard and "allows" her husband to make love to her only on Tuesdays.

The mothers have one thing in common is that they moon over Todd, who comes to the park everyday with his son. Sarah gets fed up with all their daydreaming about Todd and tells them so. They kind of dare her to go up to him and talk to him. Sarah does them one better and not only goes up to Todd but also gets him to kiss her right there in front of the mothers. That kiss sets off sparks, because it not only makes Sarah a pariah to the mothers, but something happens between her and Todd that will make their worlds topsy-turvy.

While the Todd/Sarah love saga unfolds, there is a sub-plot about a paroled child molester who is living in their neighborhood and is being hounded by one of Todd's cop friends. The cop's obsession seems to ruin his life.

The book to me is a kind of what if. Many of us fantasize about some of the things that the characters in the book act upon, but would never have the guts to upset our own "comfortable" lives to act on our desires.

The only downside to the book is that while several of the book's characters finally understand themselves at the end, the book seems to end abruptly and I just wish that it could have continued. It would have been nice if the author gave you a "what happened" to the characters at the end, kind of like several movies do.

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