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's Little Children made me laugh so hard I had to put it down....[A] gentle, sparkling satire. (Grade: B+)" Jennifer Reese, Entertainment Weekly
"[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
"[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
"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
"Tom Perrotta...is like an American Nick Hornby: companionable and humane, lighthearted and surprisingly touching." Newsweek
"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'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
"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
"[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
Three couples 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
Born in Summit, New Jersey, Tom Perrotta developed his eye for the world amidst the songs of Bruce Springsteen and beneath the glow of dark American movies - The Graduate, Chinatown, Taxi Driver - that graced the Sixties and Seventies. He earned a B.A. in English from Yale University and then received an M.A. in English/Creative Writing from Syracuse University. In 1994, Tom published his first book, Bad Haircut: Stories of the Seventies, a collection of shorts stories that The Washington Post called "more powerful than any other coming-of-age novel."
On the heels of Bad Haircut came two more novels focused on the clash of adolescence and adulthood: The Wishbones and Election, both published to much acclaim, though it was the latter that would prove to be his breakout success. A high school election gone awry, a teacher-student affair, teenagers on the verge of adulthood - Election was a captivating satire that was instantly picked up for film and turned into a popular Paramount movie starring Matthew Broderick and Reese Witherspoon.
Following Election, Tom continued to write about the humor and delight in everyday social interactions, only he shifted his focus to an older - though just as troubled - cast of characters: first with Joe College, a comic journey into the dark side of higher education, love, and food service; and then most recently with Little Children, his most ambitious novel that explores the psychological depths beneath the surface of suburbia. Little Children has been chosen for numerous "Best Books of 2004" lists - including The New York Times Book Review, Newsweek, National Public Radio, and People magazine - and has garnered tremendous praise from all fronts, calling Tom "an American Chekhov" (New York Times) and a "rare writer equally gifted at drawing people's emotional maps...and creating sidesplitting scenes" (People).
Currently, Tom lives with his wife and two children in Belmont, Massachusetts, and is working on the screenplay for Little Children writer/director Todd Field (In the Bedroom), as well as a second screenplay with ex-Frasier writer, Rob Greenberg. He plans to start his next novel when he completes those projects.
Review A Day
"[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