- Little Children (novel)
Infobox Book |
name = Little Children
image_caption = First edition cover
language = English
St. Martin's Press
March 1 2004
media_type = Print (
pages = 368 pp
isbn = ISBN 0-312-31571-6
followed_by = "Little Children" is a 2004 novel by American author
Tom Perrottathat interweaves the darkly comedic stories of seven main characters, all of whom live in the same suburban Bostonneighborhood during the middle of a hot summer. The novel received critical praise, spurring " The New York Times" to declare Perrotta "an American Chekhov whose characters even at their most ridiculous seem blessed and ennobled by a luminous human aura." [Blythe, Will. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E0CE3D8133FF937A25750C0A9629C8B63 "All the Children Are Above Average"] , " The New York Times", 2004- 03-14. Retrieved on 2007- 07-04.] The novel was featured on numerous "Best Books of 2004" lists—including those of " The New York Times Book Review", " Newsweek", National Public Radio, and "People" magazine. In 2006, the novel was adapted into an Academy Award-nominated film of the same name.
The novel begins by introducing a main character, Sarah, at the playground with her highly judgmental comrades. Sarah wonders how she allowed herself to become "one" of these women. We learn that she had once had an affair with a
Korean woman which started when she was an undergrad at college and carried over into grad school (the College is never mentioned but it is hinted to be either Tufts Universityor Boston University), only to meet her again with her husband and child while working at a local Starbucks. While working at this Starbucks she meets Richard, her husband to be. He is described as much older than Sarah and a sort of last alternative for her love life; it is even hinted that she married him only because she had fears that she would be stuck in her dead-end job and life if she didn't. Sarah describes Richard as sort of "under" her expectations. She often enlists her neighbor Jean to watch Lucy so she can have time alone.
Now enters Todd, a handsome young father the neighborhood women have nicknamed the "Prom King." One of the other mothers offers a challenge to Sarah, "Five bucks if you get his phone number." While jokingly discussing the bet, Todd and Sarah engage in a kiss that becomes more passionate than the ruse called for. This leads to a convenient affair between the two who "happen" to cross each other at the local pool and "happen" to bring their children to nap together while they have sex on the living room floor.
The narration then cuts to Larry, a 33-year-old retired policeman. He left the force after shooting a black student brandishing a toy gun straight through the neck at a local
shopping mall; the guilt became so unbearable that he collected his pensionearly. Larry is angry that Ronald (a sex offender convicted of exposing himself to children) is allowed to live in his neighborhood and starts a one-man vendetta to drive him out. He harasses Ronald and his mother, May, going as far as to light on fire dog feces in the yard of May's home. He eventually gets in a shoving match with May, who has a strokethat leads to her death. Bertha, a school crossing guard and May's best friend, takes Ronnie to the hospital and it is revealed that May has written him a note that reads only "Please, please be a good boy."
We cut back to Todd and we find about his wife Kathy, who's described as a gorgeous, long-legged brunette who works as a documentary film maker and resents being the breadwinner of their home. Kathy later finds out about Todd's illicit affair with the rather stout and boyish Sarah and she finds herself more insulted than angry that Todd would go for someone less attractive than her.
The novel ends with Todd and Sarah planning to leave their spouses. But there is a definite catch when Sarah finds, via a phone call, that Richard has left her for an internet porn star called "Slutty Kay," who goes by her real name, Carla, around her gentlemen callers. Sarah pushes her daughter Lucy on the swing around 9-10 p.m. while waiting for Todd, who does not show up. Just when she starts to lose hope, Ronald appears and puts his hand on her shoulder. Much to her own surprise, she finds sympathy for him—until he reveals to her that he has given in to his compulsions and killed a girl. Larry suddenly approaches, ready to kill Ronald, but finds it in his heart to offer his condolence for May's death. Sarah just sits, baffled, wondering how she will raise her daughter, whom she feels she has greatly let down.
* [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0DE7DA1438F930A15752C0A9639C8B63 "TBR: Inside the List"] interview with Perrotta in "
The New York Times" about the minor controversy arising from the use of Pepperidge Farmgoldfish on the book's cover.
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