Friday, July 8, 2011

Alli's CBR-III Review #20 - Little Children

After reading Clementine Bojangles' review I immediately requested the book from my local library and devoured it in no time at all. I then got right onto Netflix and watched the movie, which was an interesting experience.

Little Children by Tom Perotta follows the lives of suburban parents, mainly Todd and Sarah but also their partners and other associates. There is also Ronnie, a "pervert" recently out of jail for flashing a girl scout but also suspected in the disappearance of another child.

To me this book is seems to be about is the choices that we make and the repercussions that come from them. Sarah made a choice to marry an older man, most likely for the security but then finds herself unsatisfied with her marriage and the other vacuous and vacant mothers on the playground. She then meets Todd, dubbed "Prom King" by the other Moms. Todd himself is a stay at home Dad, unable or unwilling to pass the bar exam. Together they take refuge from their real lives and create a situation for themselves to make things seem better.

The character of Todd presents an interesting case, he is a stay at home Dad without judgement? His wife has known all along that was something that he was interesting in doing, but somehow she resents it anyhow. Having said that however, Todd seems to have coasted by on his good looks his whole life without ever really having to work for anything. Even getting into law school was a fluke, he took the LSAT with a friend for moral support and ended up doing so well he figured why not become a lawyer even though he doesn't really want to put the work into completing the process. At moments I was touched by his bond with his son, but at others I was displeased at the ease in which he dismissed the women in his life so easily.

Now onto Ronnie and his Mom, I don't even know where to start on this. I never expected to feel the way I felt about these characters. First of all, as a Mother I had to try and put myself in her shoes. What would I do if it was my son. . . I don't even want to think about it. She has good intentions, tries to turn her son into a normal person. They are both persecuted a lot from the "Committee of Concerned Parents" which is mainly a man named Larry with some displaced anger. I am not defending Ronnie for his actions, but the book made me feel a surprising amount of empathy for him. It is a complicated issue, the book makes us see him as human too, and so when him and his mother are being extremely harassed it hurt my heart as well.

The dynamic between Sarah and her husband Richard I found very interesting. Richard is on his second marriage, but has found somehow that he made the same choices each time and he is still unhappy with those choices. I will not spoil his plot line, but I was very amused with the choices that he ends up making. The resolution for the character of Sara was also very satisfying, however I found it to be a bit hastily written, I would have liked to have it fleshed out a bit more.

So about the movie, I also enjoyed the movie quite a lot. It is jarring a bit since there is narration in the movie that mostly is pulled right out of the book. I wasn't sure how I liked it at first, but eventually I found it quaint and an appropriate way to convey the book into film form. I took major issue with changing the name of the Todd to Brad, those kind of things just irk me. It may be because the director's name was Todd, but still I don't think that it should have been changed. There were also major plot changes made, mainly to the ending that really to me were fairly unnecessary as I enjoyed the ending of the book much more. Also the plot for Richard was dropped by about half, which I find added so much to the story in the book. But I guess that is what happens with adaptations most of the time.

I am about to start reading "Election" and I am pretty excited about it. I have seen the movie a few times and it is one of my favorites. I should probably have that one finished by the end of the weekend so I am catching up to my proper reading pace!


  1. Thanks for mentioning and linking to my review! I also liked the book much more than the movie (I found the movie, as a whole, really underwhelming). Your insight into the concept of choice and what it means for a person's life was really intriguing.

    Great review. Hope you're enjoying/enjoyed Election!

  2. Sent from my iPhone

    On 2011-07-11, at 4:02 PM, "Allison Boyd" wrote:


    Thanks for the comment. Election was not bad, but like I said in my review, I loved the movie much more. At least it was a nice quick read. I am onto reading "About a Boy" now and I loving it so far. Next is probably "High Fidelity". I am really on a kick of reading books that are also movies, and really feeling the Perrotta and Hornby :)