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.
Sounds like an entertaining book - but I have the feeling I have read before - just concerning the husband who stays home and the mother who works - but don't remember the child molester part etc. - we'll see -
I may be the odd ball this week, but this one doesn't make it with me. I had the book a few months back (highly recommended) and just could not read it. There is something about the casualness of bad behavior by all the characters that I found off putting. I never got to the child molester part, but assumed that it would be treated as cavalierly as the rest.
I think I have a short attention span but this book has grabbed me just from today's (1st) excerpt. Hope it keeps up the momentum...will get it if it does ! (PS...those playground days seem like another world and my son is just 11)
"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."--BOOK JACKET.
Ann -- actually, the treatment of the child molester is interestingly balanced. You hate what he did, but you do feel some empathy -- and yet, a part of you believes he gets what he deserves. When I read this book, I never did figure out how to feel about the child molester. In fact, all of the characters in this book are shades of gray -- no one is drawn in black and white. I think that is why I enjoyed the book; it seems so plausible.
As I mentioned, I read this book a while back and loved it at the time. Part of my enjoyment was that it was simply a book about suburbia -- which is my life. I recognize traits of my friends and neighbors. However, reading the excerpt this week, I am struck less by the plot (which is what drew me in the first time around) and more by the words -- and the writing seems so banal, like a romance novel. I'm disappointed, because I enjoyed the story so much the first time.
A lot of reviewers on Amazon.com didn't like this book, and many were put off by the ending, because things are not wrapped neatly, but I actually like that (more realistic). I think I can still give this book a thumbs up, as long as you enjoy the story, and aren't looking for beautiful prose.
I guess you have summed up my primary disconnect with this selection. In my mind, child molestation is bad, and the molester is evil. No gray. And , before someone brings it us, I don't believe there is any such thing as a "reformed" child molester. As we've seen on the news outlets of late, it is possible for molesters to curb their desires, but the desire is forever there.
And for relating to "life in the suburbs", I guess I'm glad I'm not there. Are people routinely falling into bed with near strangers on a daily basis? Guess I have just become an old curmudgeon, but then, I was pretty much a young curmudgeon! Happy reading to all. I'll see you all next week.
I read this book a while back and liked it. Regarding the child molester issue, I have 2 thoughts:
*With sexual offender registries posted on the Internet, people can easily find out that there are quite a few probable or potential molesters right in their own community. So this can be something that looms large in the psyches of suburban parents. Maybe Perrotta included this character for that reason. Many parents experience real worry and fear over this. Everybody agrees that child molesters are bad. But that doesn't change the fact that they are here and we have to figure out what to do with them.
*I am currenlty reading "Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety" and it is interesting to re-read "Little Children" through the prism of that nf book. Perfect Madness talks a lot about today's mothers' anxieties, feelings of inadequacy, loneliness and hopelessness. I am seeing Sarah in a whole new light.
Regarding the loose morals - I think people need to remember that this is fiction. I don't want to give the ending away, but I think the book aptly demonstrates how the escapism that an affair provides in not a long term solution to anybody's problems.
I agree with Sheryl. This is very much a "shades of gray" book and if you are strictly a black and white person, you probably won't enjoy it. I see shades of gray in nearly everything, can see both sides of nearly every issue, and can feel at least some sympathy or empathy for almost anyone, no matter what they've done. If that makes me a bleeding heart, so be it, that's just the way I am.
But it's funny, because I had the same reaction Sheryl did reading the first installment -- that the writing wasn't as good as I'd remembered. Maybe it's the difference between reading something for the first time, in book form, and reading it again, on screen. Anyway, it just didn't "sing" as much as I had remembered. I still think it's a very good, thought-provoking read, though, and would certainly recommend it to all the other "gray" people out there.
The story has pulled me in right from the beginning - I'm definitely curious to see where it goes next. In reading some of the previous posts on the child molester, I'm even more interested to see how the whole subject is portrayed. Will probably take this one out of the library!
After having read some reviews of this book this morn on amazon, don't feel the need to read the book - most reviews were good - but to me the book sounds rather insipid - don't think I would find the depth they speak of - so it's a delete for me on this one -
I have been enjoying the daily readings of this book. Our library doesn't have it so I would have to request an inter-library loan. Not sure yet if I will do so. I'm curious about the treatment of the child molester although I tend to agree with Ann and Doris re black/white in that case. "Perfect Madness" sounds like an interesting book. I may try and get a copy of that. Glad my kids are grown up!
I was intrigued by the synopsis of this book and just started reading it. I feel that this is going to be a book that I will enjoy, since I can relate to the characters and their escapades with the children and each other. Not sure about the child molester part though, don't know if I could stomach that. But can't wait to see what happens...
I have found this book annoyingly shallow from the very first reading. Now, three excerpts later, I don't feel any different. I am a thirty-something mother of two young children, and I often hang out at the playground. Nonetheless, I do not recognize any of the characters portrayed in this book. In fact, I find the character treatment stereotypical and superficial. I am especially offended by the description of Sarah in college: her discovery of feminism, exploring her sexuality, the Starbucks job, the graduate school. There is no depth here, and I find it extremely irritating.
here's a strange thought (paradox)....I'm not sure the percentage but hasn't it come out that some child molesters were molested when THEY WERE CHILDREN? So back when they were the victim we had nothing but sorrow and empathy for them and now 20-30 years later we despise them. wierd.
"Hate the sin, love the sinner."