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Little Beauties: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 26, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1ST edition (July 26, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743271823
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743271820
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,716,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Two women a generation apart meet and work to overcome their hurt in this flawed but sympathetic first novel from Addonizio, a poet (Tell Me) and short story writer (In the Box Called Pleasure). In L.A.'s Long Beach, 34-year-old Diana McBride is working her latest dead-end job, at the children's store Teddy's World, when very young mother-to-be Jamie Ramirez comes in and buys a bear, but ends up burying it at the beach, along with her frustrations at impending kicked-out-of-the-house single motherhood. Addonizio alternates perspectives chapter-by-chapter, switching from Diana to Jamie to Jamie's unborn child, Stella ("I chose you, Stella tells her. I'm not going to let you just hand me over to somebody else"). The awkward results feel like a first-time novelist's cop-out on multiple characters. Addonizio has a great ear for what the OCD-afflicted Diana and the deluded, late-adolescent Jamie say to themselves, but the means by which Jamie ends up at Diana's apartment, along with Great Guy Anthony who has come to Jamie's roadside aid, feel contrived. After some trouble, strife and a serious scare with newborn Stella, things work out with a heartwarming complexity, but Addonizio hasn't fashioned a strong enough container for her characters' powerful feelings.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Addonizio writes with sultry candor about womanhood under duress in her celebrated poetry, collected most recently in What Is This Thing Called Love? (2004). She now extends her provocative inquiry with verve and creative license in her first novel. Diana loves her job at a Long Beach baby store, but she is beginning to detect the contamination that haunts her. A former child pageant star pushed mercilessly by her man-crazy, alcoholic mother, Diana is a compulsive washer. Her obsessive behavior has driven away her husband, and she can't imagine how she can possibly give shelter to Jamie, a 17-year-old unwed mother, and her newborn, Stella, who desperately need a place to stay because Jamie's mother insists that she give Stella up for adoption. Addonizio writes with mesmerizing realism about Diana's efforts to conquer her neurosis and Jaime's conflicted motherhood, then turns to tongue-in-cheek fantasy to convey Stella's predicament as an old soul trapped in an infant's helpless body. The result is a funny, insightful, and diverting tale of high anxiety, rocky mother-daughter relationships, and the tyranny of the body. Donna Seaman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

Kim Addonizio is a fiction writer, poet, and teacher. Her poetry collections include Tell Me, a finalist for the National Book Award, What Is This Thing Called Love, and Lucifer at the Starlite. She lives in Oakland, California.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Zalin on July 28, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Kim Addonizio proves that she's not just a great poet, but also a stunning storyteller in this tale of two women and their challenges and their mothers. I could have lived without the baby's voice chapters, which seem way too precious, but the on target descriptions of a woman living with obsessive compulsive disorder and her "rules" are completely fascinating.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Waggoner on November 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Kim Addonizio pulls off one of the harder tricks a novelist can attempt -- namely, finding the magic in flawed and ordinary lives. Although her subject matter is quite different from Alice Sebold's in The Lovely Bones, I found this book similar in spirit, and just as satisfying.
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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Voracious Reader on August 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
It's funny to read some of the reviews of this novel. People seem so afraid and judgemental of the baby voice, but to me it is what ties the novel together. It is NOTHING like "Look Who's Talking." Instead of taking the easy shallow route with the baby, Addonizio looks deeper. The baby does not read as a device, but rather as a fully developed character with wants and needs. Stella is the hub of the book, bringing these unusual characters together. Addonizio also nails the pregnant teenager with an honesty that rings true to any woman who went through adolescence in the last 25 years. Diana, the woman with OCD, is a fascinating character explored with dark humor and compassion. Little Beauties was a delight to read and for a poet known for her dark cutting honest poetry, her novel is a fresh lively funny book proving Addonizio can write on both ends of the spectrum.

And I would like to add, as a woman, that I resent the "lifetime" comment. Just because something deals with women's issues does not make it cheesey.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A. Hansen VINE VOICE on May 5, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Interesting...

This was a story that kept my interest. I enjoyed learning about 'the rules' of someone with OCD. I can't imagine trying to live with this disease. Diane, trying to overcome one rule at a time. Jamie, pregnant and not wanting a child has her own trouble. She has her own family and baby on the way troubles. Then theres Stella, the unborn-then born baby. She knows shes coming into a world where she's not wanted. All of these lives intertwine in the story that each of them end up needing each other. I enjoyed this story but didn't find that I felt fulfilled with it. I can't say I'd recommend this but it wasn't a bad book. Out of all the books out there in the world I'd of recommended somthing else.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Maureen A. Blake on January 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
I picked up Little Beauties hoping for a good novel to escape into. I was immediately pulling into this remarkable story, and found it provided that moment of escapist reading where I enter into the world of the book, yet surprisingly was rich with insight that literally changed my perspective and understanding of my own life.

It was one of those few books that I felt was MEANT for me to stumble across. I wasn't looking to read anything about OCD and when I picked it up had only heard of the author so did so based on her notoriety as a poet. That subject matter was a huge surprise-and RELIEF for me.

It just spoke to me so personally in a way that reading dry clinical literature on OCD can't. Not only was it a literary brilliant move to structure the title of each chapter as one of the items on the OCD list, that made the book FUN and CLEVER while informative but not didactic. What a fabulous story which just pulls the reader in. After a while you realize you are learning about this rarity of OCD which for most people isn't something they may ever really have to think about (THANKFULLY!) But for those of us who have ever had relationships with those who just can't use a soap bar if touched by another, or have to wash with nine washclothes (one for each part of the body), or flip out if you bring a libraby book to bed because of the germs-- Well this book is nothing more than the AH HA! Moment of FINALLY UNDERSTANDING the torture of those who suffer this disorder, and the stress it places on not only themselves but those around them.
My copy was passed on to a friend who is a counselor as I think it is a MUST READ for anyone working in a clinical field whom may ever have to help someone deal with the challenges of OCD. When I finished it I was tempted to write a THANK YOU LETTER to the author as I was so touched by this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By KDMask VINE VOICE on August 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
I read this whole book on the way to England on the plane. It was a perfect story for that sort of length. Easy, fun reading. A story of three and 1/2 women (you'll have to read it to find the "1/2"!), Little Beauties tells a tale drawing on four stages of life. The OCD that's interwoven throughout the book rings very true and the details are fascinating. Every character is given a voice and even if the story doesn't end in a tidy knot, it's satisfying. One reason I gave it 4 out of 5 stars is that it felt too short. The story could have been longer. I wanted to know more about each woman's fate. I did love the cover art; the bars of soap with bubbles against the robin's egg blue is really striking.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Kramer Bussel VINE VOICE on August 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
Kim Addonizio's Little Beauties is a wonder of a novel. Told in alternative viewpoints, she contrasts a woman with severe OCD, an about-to-be teen mom, and a fetus, later a teen mom and a newborn baby. This premise alone drew me to the book, but what kept me reading was how compassionately, rather than neurotically, Addonizio painted her characters. Watching Diana struggle with losing control over her rigid OCD rules and trying to welcome people into her life post-breakup, and seeing from the outside how sad a life she had created for herself, was tempered by the hopefulness of Stella, and Jasmine's youth. All of this is contrasted with the world of beauty pageants Diana has left behind as well as the ethereal place Stella occupies. It's her insights that truly make this book shine, for Stella has access to everyone, even dead people, and can see far beyond people's surfaces. Pitting a baby with all her inherent messiness, not to mention Jasmine's internal messiness, with Diana's fastidiousness, creates an uneasy tension between them, and watching Diana be forced to open up to them, and to the possibility of a relationship after the demise of her last one, is like watching a sullen teenager slowly grow up and realize the world is not all about them. Diana's emotional growth has been stunted, by fear and OCD, and watching her teeter on the verge of getting better and sinking into the familiarity of her rules was riveting.

The contrast between what the mothers in the book want for their daughters?Gloria wants to have a beauty pageant winner, Maria wants to have a "good girl," and Jasmine doesn't even really want to be a mom?
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