Saturday, October 27, 2012

Review: "Little Children" by Tom Perrotta

Once again with Little Children, writer Tom Perrotta shows us that he is the great American suburbanite humanist. He delves deep into the psyche of people who seemingly have everything, but are missing the most important thing that makes us human: a basic connection to the world and people around you. Little Children could be seen as an adaption of a late 18th century Victorian romance novel set within the confines of well groomed cul-de-sacs and PTA meetings, with the slight twist that everything that happens in this book comes with real life problems; people who cheat feel massive amounts of guilt, and their actions have far reaching consequences for the people around them. They have feelings that are strong and we never question whether our not they are real or fake, but they go about these feelings with a very childlike disregard for anyone or anything. They are like little children playing with adult possibilities; unaware that the people around them are just as vulnerable as they are. And, like with most every Tom Perrotta book I have read (I found Election to be too short and under cooked, especially compared to something like this book), it is damn intriguing and perfect for any vacation down time. The story begins with Sarah, a reluctant stay at home mom who, while at the playground one day with a group of gossipy mothers, begins to chat with Todd, dubbed “The Prom King” (just go with it) by this rather sad group of ladies led by an iron fist by the cerebrally cruel Mary Ann. This conversation ends with an innocent peck on the lips between the two, which leads these two weary souls down a road of unrequited passion that has a dangerously short shelf life. Both of them are desperate for something more; Sarah was once destined to for a career being a strong willed feminist English professor, who now joins in on the behavior she rallied against while her husband harbors a porn addiction. Todd, always the cute and socially successful guy in college, finds himself weary of failing yet again at the bar exam and stays home with his son while his wife works as a documentary filmmaker. These two lost and completely unalike people begin a Bovary-esque romance that has real life kickback. Into this small town that houses this romance comes Ronnie and his mother. Ronnie is just an ex-con and registered sex offender whose move back to town has caused quite an uproar, especially for Larry, and ex-cop and friend to Todd, whose harassment of Ronnie becomes solace for him and a failing marriage. All these people need something, but it sometimes comes at the cost of the happiness of those we love and those who might not deserve to be hurt. It all comes to head in the same park at the beginning, which is a completely different ending than what was in the movie. I see why they chose to change it, since the book’s ending would have been anti-climactic. Anyway, this is another awesome book by a guy I am truly a fan of at this point. I cannot recommend it enough.
Rating: 5/5

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