Loved this book. I loved that each character was so very flawed and almost equally likable and dislikable at the same time. Where Desperate Housewives is over the top and American Beauty is miserably tragic, Little Children falls somewhere in the middle--realistic in it's angst, not expecting the reader to swallow massive amounts of tragedy, but not letting them off at the end with a shiny, happy ending, either. Perrotta definitely takes a big old dump on the idea of domestic bliss, no question, but it's not like the universe is out to get these people--they walk into their messes, eyes wide open and for no other reason than they want to. They are the "little children", acting on impulse on doing what satisfies the immediate need or want in them, not considering consequences until the final chapter.
Overall, it was a super easy and captivating read; I wish the characters HAD felt a bit more moral fretting over the situations they threw themselves into, but that would have defeated the metaphor of their childlike (or would "childish" be more appropriate) behavior. I did appreciate the allusion to Flaubert's Bovary that kept me wondering how the lives of these people would parallel that particular character's conflict and demise. While nothing quite as gruesome and dramatic as drinking arsenic, I can definitely see why Perrotta chose that classic as the reading group's literary selection. I think he could have also alluded to any of Austen's classics, as Perrotta is clearly poking fun at our society with the same satirical wink as Austen did in her time.
I'm off to read my first Booker Prize winner: The Gathering, by Anne Enright. I started it moments after completing Little Children and it is like jumping into the deep end of a cold pool in comparison to Perrotta's writing. Very stream-of-conscious-y and abstract-dreamy like. But I am already in love with the narrator Veronica and the way she paints the world around her with her poetic choice of words and the clearly complex relationships she is going to share with me. Can't wait to curl up tonight and see what happens next.