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Little Childrenby Tom Perrotta
"[A] thread of moral fatalism may be more disturbing than any of the other really disturbing things in this novel. The precision of Perrotta's assault on domestic hypocrisy is frightening, to be sure. And if good satire can generate a corrective jolt, this may be a deadly shock." Ron Charles, Christian Science Monitor (read the entire Christian Science Monitor review)
Synopses & Reviews
Tom Perrotta's thirty-ish 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 of the playground; Sarah, a lapsed feminist with a bisexual past, who seems to have stumbled into a traditional marriage; Richard, Sarah's husband, who has found himself more and more involved with a fantasy life on the internet than with the flesh and blood in his own house; and Mary Ann, who thinks she has it all figured out, down to scheduling a weekly roll in the hay with her husband, every Tuesday at 9pm. They all raise their kids in the kind of sleepy American suburb where nothing ever seems to happen-at least until one eventful summer, when a convicted child molester moves back to town, and two restless parents begin an affair that goes further than either of them could have imagined. Unexpectedly suspenseful, but written with all the fluency and dark humor of Perrotta's previous novels, Little Children exposes the adult dramas unfolding amidst the swingsets and slides of an ordinary American playground.
Tom Perrotta is the author of several works of fiction, including Joe College and Election, which was made into the acclaimed movie starring Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick. He lives with his wife and two children in Belmont, Massachusetts.
A New York Times Notable Book of 2004
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 wife in a traditional marriage, and her husband, Richard, who is becoming more and more involved with an internet fantasy life than with his own wife and child. And then there's Mary Ann, who has life all figured out, down to a scheduled roll in the hay with her husband every Tuesday at nine p.m.
They all raise their kids in the kind of quiet suburb where nothing ever seems to happenuntil one eventful summer, when a convicted child molester moved back into town, and two parents begin an affair that goes further than either of them could ever have imagined.
Unexpectedly suspenseful, but written with the same rich feeling and dark humor of Perrotta's previous novels, Little Children exposes a surprising side of a familiar world.
"[An] extraordinary novel about adultery and child-raising in a generic American suburb . . . It represents a sterling comic contribution to the growing literature of the Bad Mommy and the Bad Daddy . . . Perrota, the author of, most notably, Joe College and Election, takes a mean wet wipe to the sugary and unassailable encomiums to children the culture throws up, especially in this election year . . . Sometimes it seems a little antiquated to praise an author for sympathizing with his characters, for treating them in their difficulties with a tenderness that few gods have shown their humans. The author as executioner feels more realistic, more modern. And it is standard to compare to Chekhov writers who do show such kindness. And yet with Little Children, what is Tom Perrotta but an American Checkhov whose characters even at their most ridiculous seem blessed and ennobled by a luminous human aura?"Will Blythe, The New York Times Book Review
"Tom Perrotta has to be considered one of our true genius satirists. Little Children is a great book. It's both an indictment of and an elegy to that off sociological construct known as suburban America. I was enthralled by every page, and damn if I didn't find myself wishing I'd written it."Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and Shutter Island
"An accomplished comic novelist extends his range brilliantly. Perrotta's best."Kirkus Reviews
"Perrotta moves away from his lighthearted, humorous tales of New Jersey (Joe College; Election) with his latest novel, a penetrating and absorbing portrait of three suburban couples and their failed marriages . . . Perrotta's poignant and unflinching prose skillfully evokes both sympathy for his characters and disdain for the convenience they have chosen. Highly recommended."Library Journal
"The characters in this intelligent, absorbing tale of suburban angst are constrained and defined by their relationship to children . . . Perrotta views his characters with a funny, acute and sympathetic eye, using the well-observed antics of preschoolers as a telling backdrop to their parents' botched transitions into adulthood. Once again, he proves himself an expert at exploring the roiling psychological depths beneath the placid surface of suburbia."Publishers Weekly
"[An] intelligent, absorbing tale....Once again, [Perrotta] proves himself an expert at exploring the roiling psychological depths beneath the placid surface of suburbia." Publishers Weekly
"Mr. Perrotta is too generous a writer to trivialize [his characters' yearnings]. What distinguishes Little Children from run-of-the-mill suburban satire is its knowing blend of slyness and compassion." Janet Maslin, The New York Times
"[A] complex, fast-moving plot....An accomplished comic novelist extends his range brilliantly. Perrotta's best." Kirkus Reviews
"[W]hat a wicked joy it is to welcome to town Little Children, Tom Perrotta's extraordinary novel....[The novel] raises the question of how a writer can be so entertainingly vicious and yet so full of fellow feeling." Will Blythe, The New York Times Book Review
"Tom Perrotta's Little Children made me laugh so hard I had to put it down....[A] gentle, sparkling satire. (Grade: B+)" Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly
"With this, his fifth book, Tom Perrotta has to be considered one of our true geenius satirists. Little Children is a great book. Hilarious (I haven't laughed out loud so much over a book in years) but also deeply compassionate and, at times, terrifying. It's both an indictment of, and an elegy to, that odd sociological construct known as suburban America. I was enthralled by every page, and damn if I didn't find myself wishing I'd written it." Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River
"Tom Perrotta...is like an American Nick Hornby: companionable and humane, lighthearted and surprisingly touching." Newsweek
"The cast is so real that book groups will have a blast comparing people they know to the ones in the book. Perrotta is that rare writer equally gifted at drawing people's emotional maps and creating sidesplitting scenes. Suburban comedies don't come any sharper." People Magazine
"[W]armly humorous prose....Perrotta, with a light but sure hand, expertly sketches the angst of the playground set and then amps up his material with a subplot involving a child molester. A fast-reading, wholly engaging novel." Joanne Wilkinson, Booklist
"Perrotta's most ambitious book...it marks a leap for Perrotta, a suggestion that there may be bigger books inside him. It is also that rarity, a book that understands the mature wisdom of compromise without denying any of the accompanying melancholy." Charles Taylor, Salon.com
"The eponymous children in this satirical novel are actually adults who, chafing at the burdens of parenthood, try to re-create their unencumbered youth...The humor is sometimes cruel, but Perrotta never betrays the complexity of his characters." The New Yorker
"Perrotta wisely refuses to condescend to the world he satirizes, and his masterful perspective provides the reader with a breezy omniscience over the character's failures in life....[A] brave novel...engrossing, compassionate." Esquire Magazine
"[A] generous serving of laugh-out-loud moments....Perrotta knows the white-picket fence dream is just that. Life is disappointing, sure, but a little bit of breezily sardonic humor goes a long way to ease the pain." USA Today
"Perrotta's poignant and unflinching prose skillfully evokes both sympathy for his characters and disdain for the convenience they have chosen." Library Journal
"Perrotta has been likened to an American Nick Hornby. With Little Children, he solidifies his reputation as a top comic novelist, and becomes something more, one of the most talented chroniclers of American suburban family in the new millennium." Hartford Courant
"Little Children, like all Perrotta's work, is a virtuoso set of overlapping character studies....[A] greatly auspicious and instructive encounter with the dread world of maturity." Chris Lehmann, The Washington Post Book World
"To detail the plot is to diminish its pleasures. Perrotta's scenes sneak up on you. He primes you to expect the worst and then delivers something more credible and amusing, developing his characters' emotions in potent and surprising ways." Los Angeles Times
"For all its surface appeal and adroit cultural references, Little Children is a novel about time and the way it catches everyone, whether they are running or standing still....[It] is a book that will stand the test of time." The Oregonian (Portland, OR)
"[S]earing, compulsively readable....Combining rueful wit with a wonderfully creepy sense of foreboding, Little Children feels like what you might get if Nick Hornby collaborated with David Lynch." Newsday
"[A] story that is timeless and placeless yet rock-solid in its appeal. With easy flowing, uncomplicated prose and a keen ear for dialogue, he has added another layer to what is becoming an impressive and durable body of work." Boston Herald
The meeting and colliding of several young sets of parents in modern suburbia, by the author of JOE COLLEGE and ELECTION.
A couple escaping the over-the-top lifestyle of Manhattan's Upper East Side move to the quaint town of Newport, only to be confronted by truths they tried to leave behind.
A couple escaping the opulent lifestyle of Manhattans Upper East Side move to Newport, Rhode Island, only to be confronted by the trappings of the life they tried to leave behind.
Nate, a midlevel Wall Streeter, and his longtime girlfriend Emily are effectively evicted from New York City when they find they can no longer afford their apartment. An out presents itself in the form of a job offer for Nate in Newport—complete with a bucolic, small, and comparatively affordable new house. Eager to start fresh, they flee city life with their worldly goods packed tightly in their Jeep Cherokee. Yet within minutes of arriving in Rhode Island, their car and belongings are stolen, and they're left with nothing but the keys to an empty house and their bawling 10-month-old son.
Over the three-day weekend that follows, as Emily and Nate watch their meager pile of cash dwindle and tensions increase, the secrets they kept from each other in the city emerge, threatening to destroy their hope for a shared future.
A story about losing it all, the complexities of family histories, tainted gene pools, art theft, architecture, and the mad grab for the American Dream, The Exiles bravely explores the weight of our pasts—and whether or not it's truly possible to start over.
Tom Perrotta's thirty-ish 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 wife in a traditional marriage, and her husband Richard, who is more and more involved with an internet fantasy life than with his own wife and child. And then there's Mary Ann, who has life all figured out, down to a scheduled roll in the hay with her husband every Tuesday at 9PM.
They all raise their kids in the kind of quiet suburb where nothing ever seems to happen--until one eventful summer, when a convicted child molester moves back to town, and two parents begin an affair that goes further than either of them could ever have imagined.
About the Author
Tom Perrotta is the author of Bad Haircut, The Wishbones, Election, and Joe College. He lives in Belmont, Massachusetts.
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