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little-beauties

The lives of three characters -- an obsessive-compulsive, a pregnant teenager, and the teen's unborn child -- come together in National Book Award finalist and Pushcart Prize winner Kim Addonizio's unsparingly funny and transcendent debut novel. Diana McBride, a thirty-four-year-old former child pageant contender, now works in a baby store in Long Beach. Between dealing wThe lives of three characters -- an obsessive-compulsive, a pregnant teenager, and the teen's unborn child -- come together in National Book Award finalist and Pushcart Prize winner Kim Addonizio's unsparingly funny and transcendent debut novel. Diana McBride, a thirty-four-year-old former child pageant contender, now works in a baby store in Long Beach. Between dealing with a catastrophic haircut, the failure of her marriage, and phone calls from her alcoholic mother, Diana has gone off her OCD medication and is trying to cope via washing and cleaning rituals. When pregnant teenager Jamie Ramirez enters the store, Diana's already chaotic world is sent spinning. Jamie can't stand being pregnant. She can't wait to get on with her normal life and give the baby up for adoption. But her yet-to-be-born daughter, Stella, has a fierce will and a destiny to fulfill. And as the magical plot of Little Beauties unfolds, these three characters' lives become linked in ever more surprising ways. With a poet's ear for fresh, evocative language and a deft humor that exposes her characters' foibles, Addonizio perfectly captures the messiness and unexpected beauty of life....

Title : Little Beauties
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780743271837
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 272 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Little Beauties Reviews

  • Abbey
    2019-03-09 04:22

    Worst. Book. Ever.

  • Roxanne
    2019-02-26 04:21

    I loved this book. It's a good story: a woman with an obsessive washing problem meets a pregnant teenager, and their unexpected friendship marks big changes ahead for both of them. Not the most original plot, but a good story, and written beautifully. From my little synopsis it might sound like another one of those novels for women that are all the same and all being churned out like crazy lately, but it's not that novel. It's written by Kim Addonizio. It's a novel by a poet. And the unborn child gets to narrate too! It's a beautiful book and it touched me and I really loved it. I can't believe I left it sitting on my To Read shelf all neglected for the past couple of years. Kim, how could I have doubted you?

  • Radha Sukhu
    2019-02-23 09:26

    Little Beauties by Kim Addonizio.Simon & Schuster, New York, 2005.“Rule #23: Clean anything you take to bed – book, laptop, phone (51).Homework: Confront the situations that cause you distress (119).Remember: Each time you view your experiences as a test, you set yourself up for disappointment, discouragement, self-criticism, and resignation (223).”Addonizio’s novel, “Little Beauties,” begins with an introduction to Diana McBride, the protagonist, who reveals in the first line of the piece that she was once a “professional princess” (1). Her mother, Gloria, is a domineering woman, who forced Diana to participate in pageants when she was younger. Unknown to the mother, Diana has obsessive compulsive disorder, which is the reason why her husband left. Diana works at Teddy’s World, a baby furniture store, which is the fourteenth job she has had. Jamie Ramirez, a pregnant teenager, crosses her path while buying a teddy bear for her unwanted child, Stella, even though Stella will be adopted. Although Jamie hardly knows Diana, she turns to her for help when she’s faced with tough decisions that involve her and Stella’s future.Told in first person, Diana’s character was well developed regarding the actions and daily activities of a person with OCD. When Diana’s coworker has eczema and gets too close to her, she feels the need to leave work to go home and shower. But by the end of the novel, her character has grown. When she’s faced with the possibility of uncleanness, she thinks, “There’s no time to wash properly…I can’t worry about any of that now, because I am busy trying to save a life” (205). We see improvement in Diana’s character though her relationship with her mother and with her obsessive compulsive disorder.On the other hand, Jamie’s character, told in third person omniscient, is the typical pregnant, drug enraptured teenager who does not want to take responsibility for her child. Referring to her daughter, “’Fuck you,’ Jamie says. ‘I can’t wait to get rid of you’” (20). As a reader, I felt a bit distanced from Jamie, but that might have been because she was portrayed as being an emotional wreck. Stella’s third person omniscient point of view is told from in the “Before” and after birth as a newborn. From the first few pages we see Stella’s love for her mother – “I chose you, Stella says. I’m not going to let you just hand me over to somebody else.” However, after birth, Stella realizes that her choice might not have been a wise one. Writing from the perspective of a fetus is a tricky skill to maneuver, but if I was an author, I’d probably write Stella’s point of view similar to the way Addonizio wrote it. She is the one character that connects all of the other characters and ultimately brings them together.The plot of this piece is completely unique as a whole. I’ve never read a novel that intertwined the characters of an OCD person, a pregnant teenager, and a fetus. Although both of these are commonly written about separately, together, they form an intriguing novel that explores each of the characters on their journeys. As a writer, Addonizio inspired me to explore the concept of writing from a baby’s perspective, which would prove to be challenging, but rewarding in the end.

  • Kristine Dillon
    2019-02-24 07:03

    Not exactly what I expected. The writing seemed subpar for a novel. This is the first book by Addonizio I have ever read. I was not really impressed with the different narrations, especially when coming from the baby. I think I could have read the whole book and skipped over those sections and it would have not been missed. As fore the ending, it was way too open ended. I didn't feel there was anythign actually accomplished or portrayed at the end. A big let down.

  • Sandra
    2019-02-27 05:30

    I really wanted this book to be good. It showed promise in parts but the story never came together and just drifted along. The teenage mother, the OCD divorcee, and the newborn whose thoughts we are privy to are so disconnected its laughable. The only reason I didn’t give this book one star is that I finished it as I kept hoping for the best but kept getting the worst.

  • Wendy
    2019-02-28 01:18

    Interesting premise but ultimately left me unsatisfied. The characters were a little one-dimensional and the resolution too pat.

  • Polly Hillier
    2019-03-12 01:28

    This is a’thin’ read. A steady stream of three thoughts of consciousness with a cast of supporting characters. A unique comment on ‘the essence of the unborn’ and view of those thoughts that imprison

  • Cassandra Barboza
    2019-03-14 08:16

    The story of Little Beauties takes on the perspective of three different narrators. You first get to see, Diana McBride, the main character who is a thirty four year old woman with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Her specific curse is constant washing and extreme germ phobia. At the point you enter her life, her husband, Tim, has just left her, her alcoholic mother, Gloria, continues to criticize her every action, and she is intent on leaving her fourteenth job which she generally loves. You next get to see, Jamie, who is a pregnant teenager with no future plan or prospects in her life and the desire to give up her unborn child for adoption. And finally you meet the most interesting and otherworldly character of, Stella, Jamie’s unborn child. All three women face very different hardships but together they gain the strength to face their problems. They are three different people with completely different personalities yet they become intertwined in each other’s lives by the simple purchase of a music playing teddy bear. Diana’s point of view comes to the reader in the first person. This style helps to better explain the thoughts that lead to her compulsive cleaning and center her as the novel’s protagonist. The point of view of Jamie and Stella are in the third person limited omniscient. Many times the writing of a novel with so many narrators may seem unclear but in the case of this story all of the stories are very distinct and separate themselves from each other. The three narrators allow you to see the same event and moments in time, happening from different perspectives.Jamie is the most relatable perspective because she sees the world through the eyes of a teenager with no life experience or dreams except for impossible rock stardom. Her situation is one that can be seen often and related too more easily. Diana and Stella on the other hand are completely different from most points of views. Diana’s OCD is a constant factor in her life that chains her to sinks, showers, and her pristine bedroom. Outside of her home she feels at risk constantly. Dust is her main fear and in her eyes “There is no way to really get rid of dust. It’s like nuclear waste, only worse. Even plutonium has a half-life and will decay, hundreds of years from now. Dust is eternal.” Yet, Stella is the most extreme character because rarely has such a perspective ever been touched. You see through Stella’s eyes even before she is conceived and how she selects her parents. But when Jamie is neglecting her, Stella contemplates that maybe she chose the wrong parents but that it’s too late now anyway. You see her baby thoughts with a knowledge of everything in the world as if she has some ancestral knowledge and her point of view even begins to flow into the possibility of her being a reincarnation of the dead wife of a later central character to the plot, Anthony, who plays an important part in the lives of all three characters.Kim Addonizio’s writing style is very honest and open. And of what I have read, her portrayal of OCD seems to be very accurate, even in the eyes of current OCD sufferers. She is most known for her poetry but I see her dip into fiction as a successful one. The portrayals of Stella’s thoughts in themselves are very poetic and float through the possibilities, they focus less on fact and more on speculation of what lies beyond our simple reality. The portrayal of Jamie in itself is very accurate. Ms. Addonizio does not shy away from portraying some of Jamie’s more unsavory exploits.I liked the story and found all of the different perspectives fascinating but I do see that for some people Stella’s perspective can be a problem. It is a very surrealistic portrayal of inner thought that at times can seem foggy if attention is not paid to the details and little moments described throughout the novel.The style and idea in this book that influenced me as a writer were Stella’s thoughts and portrayal. I find it very bold that the step was taken to show such an uncommon perspective that many could find issue with but could nonetheless be a hit in the eyes of others. As a writer I would like to take from this book the courage to write from unconventional perspectives that have yet to be tried and explored.

  • Radha Sukhu
    2019-02-22 01:17

    Little Beauties by Kim Addonizio.Simon & Schuster, New York, 2005.“Rule #23: Clean anything you take to bed – book, laptop, phone (51).Homework: Confront the situations that cause you distress (119).Remember: Each time you view your experiences as a test, you set yourself up for disappointment, discouragement, self-criticism, and resignation (223).”Addonizio’s novel, “Little Beauties,” begins with an introduction to Diana McBride, the protagonist, who reveals in the first line of the piece that she was once a “professional princess” (1). Her mother, Gloria, is a domineering woman, who forced Diana to participate in pageants when she was younger. Unknown to the mother, Diana has obsessive compulsive disorder, which is the reason why her husband left. Diana works at Teddy’s World, a baby furniture store, which is the fourteenth job she has had. Jamie Ramirez, a pregnant teenager, crosses her path while buying a teddy bear for her unwanted child, Stella, even though Stella will be adopted. Although Jamie hardly knows Diana, she turns to her for help when she’s faced with tough decisions that involve her and Stella’s future.Told in first person, Diana’s character was well developed regarding the actions and daily activities of a person with OCD. When Diana’s coworker has eczema and gets too close to her, she feels the need to leave work to go home and shower. But by the end of the novel, her character has grown. When she’s faced with the possibility of uncleanness, she thinks, “There’s no time to wash properly…I can’t worry about any of that now, because I am busy trying to save a life” (205). We see improvement in Diana’s character though her relationship with her mother and with her obsessive compulsive disorder.On the other hand, Jamie’s character, told in third person omniscient, is the typical pregnant, drug enraptured teenager who does not want to take responsibility for her child. Referring to her daughter, “’Fuck you,’ Jamie says. ‘I can’t wait to get rid of you’” (20). As a reader, I felt a bit distanced from Jamie, but that might have been because she was portrayed as being an emotional wreck. Stella’s third person omniscient point of view is told from in the “Before” and after birth as a newborn. From the first few pages we see Stella’s love for her mother – “I chose you, Stella says. I’m not going to let you just hand me over to somebody else.” However, after birth, Stella realizes that her choice might not have been a wise one. Writing from the perspective of a fetus is a tricky skill to maneuver, but if I was an author, I’d probably write Stella’s point of view similar to the way Addonizio wrote it. She is the one character that connects all of the other characters and ultimately brings them together.The plot of this piece is completely unique as a whole. I’ve never read a novel that intertwined the characters of an OCD person, a pregnant teenager, and a fetus. Although both of these are commonly written about separately, together, they form an intriguing novel that explores each of the characters on their journeys. As a writer, Addonizio inspired me to explore the concept of writing from a baby’s perspective, which would prove to be challenging, but rewarding in the end.

  • Corinne Hanna
    2019-03-20 02:24

    Little Beauties, by Kim Addonizio is about three girls: Diana, Jamie, and Stella. The book starts off with Diana, who I presume as the main character. The first chapter is titled “Rule#1: Shower after emptying the trash.” The title reflects Diana’s weakness for germs. This chapter goes into detail about Diana’s childhood life, her mother, and how she is now thirty-four. Diana’s husband of twelve years, Tim, has just left her. In the first chapter Diana meets Jamie who comes into Teddy’s World, which is where Diana works. Jamie is pregnant and looking for a music box. Chapter two is about Jamie. The chapter goes into detail about how Jamie got pregnant, who the dad is, her best friends Leila, and her parents. The third chapter is about Stella, Jamie’s baby who is currently still in her uterus. The first three chapters introduce the characters, and from there the book alternates between those three characters. There are a few other important people in the book, such as Jamie’s parents, a boy Troy whom she meets, her best friend Leila, a man who helps Jamie when she is giving birth and Diana starts to like Anthony, Diana’s mother Gloria and Diana’ boss. Diana has a crazy disease where she is terrified of germs and bacteria, so she lives her life around crazy rules she has made up so she doesn’t come into contact with any germs. Jamie is a teenager having a baby who doesn’t know what she wants in life. Stella is a newborn who is wondering if she would rather be living in her mothers belly still. The only thing I didn’t like about this book is when Diana would talk about her therapist. She would really only say negative things about her therapist, and how she didn’t listen to anything the lady told her. She brought her up numerous times, but never talked about many benefits from seeing her. I the therapist was pointless and didn’t really deserve a place in the book. I think a main message in this book is about finding out who you truly are, and loving yourself for who you truly are. Each main character struggles with knowing who they really are, and loving themselves for who they really are. In the end this is solved and I as the reader begin to see the characters in new and improved ways. Diana realizes germs really aren’t that bad, Jamie realizes she does want to be a mother and that is a rare and beautiful kind of love, and Stella realizes that she is in this world for a reason and will not be able to go back into her mothers wound. This book never had a dull or boring moment in it. I couldn’t put this book down, and finished it in about two days, on and off. I like how it alternated between the three characters and I think that gave it some extra flare. I can tell the author of this book is also a poet, because of all the figurative language and details used in this book. For example “Pink and orange sunset colors, wicker chairs, water sheeting down one wall, lit by candles.” Another example, “I see myself on a bed in a hotel room in Tijuana, surrounded by roses. The roses have shriveled and blackened. I lie there, looking an smelling disgusting, princess of nothing.” There are details and figurative language like this throughout the whole book, which kept me intrigued the whole time.

  • Amanda Pagano
    2019-03-12 06:03

    Three Different PerspectivesLittle Beauties by Kim AddonizioSimon & Schuster, 2006During a time when teenage pregnancy and OCD are issues faced by many in American, Addonizio writes a story that addresses them both. Throughout the book the point of view switches between three characters, and the reader gets something different from each one. Diana McBride, a woman in her thirties with OCD, Jamie Alvarez, the pregnant teenager, and Jamie’s unborn child named Stella. While it is interesting to get three different perspectives, Stella’s is the most unique for her innocence of being new to the world.In Diana, one would believe her to be the most together since she’s older, but she ends up being the person that needs the most help. Addonizio really delves into Diana’s condition by opening the chapters from her perspective with rules Diana uses to accommodate her OCD. It’s very pivotal to get inside her mind because although she doesn’t hide her want for clean things, the way she visualizes dirt is something only Diana and the reader can understand and it shows how serious her condition is. Through Diana, the reader also receives her opinion on babies, especially since she works in a baby store, and her only dislike is because of her condition and babies can get really dirty. Which is why it comes as a shock when she allows Jamie, with her child, to live with her.Since Jamie is still young it makes a lot of sense that for a majority of the book she thinks about only herself. She does start to grow up more after she decides to keep Stella. Being wrapped up a bit in herself makes it easy for her to believe Diana is just a bit weird with wanting things clean not actually suffering from a disease. After Jamie is moved in with Diana, the dilemma many teenage girls with children face comes to light, she wants to be a good mother but at the same time wants to have fun like everyone else her age. The difficulty of the decision from this dilemma is portrayed through the happiness Jamie feels from two very different experiences, holding Stella and doing ecstasy on the beach. The most unique perspective is definitely Stella, for the reader meets her when she is still in the womb, and she is her own character as she develops depth throughout the book. Through her innocent eyes the reader can really see how troubled Diana and Jamie really are, and it’s a bit painful to witness Stella being powerless to help them. Yet, her presence in both of their lives brings the help each one needs. Stella’s life forces Jamie to grow up and be an adult and attracts Anthony who in turn ends up helping Diana. Stella’s perspective contrasts well with the other two because she comes into the world with so much positive feelings and the problems of the world really shock her, which shows why Diana and Jamie reach a point of such negativity.It can be hard to juggle between three different characters but Addonizio makes it work for her story. There are some deep-set issues within the story that are lightened by switching between perspectives. Each action and interaction between characters is better understood because the reader knows the thoughts and feelings they’re all experiencing allowing for a stronger connection overall.

  • Chantal
    2019-03-25 06:13

    Ugly Beauties.Little Beauties by Kim Addonizio. Simon & Schuster: 2005After reading a couple of Kim Addonizio’s works, the conclusion can be made that she likes to write about women who face many hardships in their lives. From Rita in her novel My Dreams Out in the Street to Jamie and Diana in Little Beauties, these women show their true strengths through the hardships that they face throughout a limited amount of time. In Little Beauties we see the main character Diana facing her Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which deals specifically with cleanliness, and Jamie Ramirez, who is dealing with teenage motherhood. Their lived begin to intertwine when Jamie walks into Diana’s store and purchases a teddy bear. From here an unlikely friendship is forged which creates out of the ordinary situations for both characters. The novel begins, “Once I was a professional princess (3).” This immediately gives the reader a sense of who they are going to be dealing with for the rest of the novel. She is automatically letting us know that she did not have a normal childhood, perhaps trying to use it as an excuse for her illness. Right from the beginning, Diana lets us know what is going on in her life and how she has come to be in this place she called Teddy’s World. In this scene, we are also introduced to the secondary character, Jamie. Addonizio does a great job of once again showing the character through dialogue (both internal and external), “Mom, she calls again. ‘Fuck you,’ Jamie says, ‘I can’t wait to get rid of you.’ (20)” Through the use of dialogue and physical descriptions ,the characters of her novel become more real for the reader.Addonizio plays with point of view in many ways. Since Diana’s point of view is the only one in first person, this helps the reader to decipher who the main character is. Both Jamie’s and Stella’s points of view are third person limited omniscient. This is not an easy task for a writer to pull off, and she does pull it off. Never once was I confused or left wondering whose point of view I was reading at the time. The different points of view lets the reader to see what is happening from more than on perspective, allowing the reader to decide for themselves how they feel about what is going on, a choice that is not often left up to the reader. Although the change in point of view was done well and effortlessly, I was left wondering whether or not Stella’s point of view was necessary. One could argue that her sole purpose was to let the reader see the characters for who they really are, from an innocent point of view. Aside from the point of view question, I think some things at the end were a little bit too convenient. The emotional turn around that Jamie, her mother, and Diana all face is unbelievable. This all happens in too short of a period of time. Although the ending might be a bit unbelievable, I found the novel to be a great read.

  • Katie Campbell
    2019-02-25 05:17

    I really enjoyed this book. The book had three main characters: Diana McBride, Jamie Ramirez, and Jamie’s unborn child Stella. Diana is now a thirty four year old woman who used to be involved in child beauty pageants, and now she works in a baby store called Teddy’s World. I thought it was interesting how she said in the very beginning of the book that she just became the Employee of the Month in August. I liked how she said “I guess I still have a thing for titles, in spite of my official retirement”. We learn right away that her marriage failed, and Tim had left her. One thing he couldn’t take was “shower after emptying the trash”. This was one of her many rules because she had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (she did stop taking her OCD medication). Jamie is a teenager who becomes pregnant and immediately wants to give her baby up for adoption. Finally, there is Stella. She is Jamie’s unborn child and we get to see her thoughts and views. This fact alone sets this book apart from others because we usually don’t get to see the perspective of an unborn child. I thought this was interesting. These characters come across one another because Jamie was in Teddy’s World searching for a music bear. I like how the author portrays the fact that someone can enter your life in the most unexpected way and have even the slightest impact that changes something for you, maybe it’s how you view something. One example of this is that by the end of the story, Jamie wanted to keep her child. Having three completely different perspectives and narrators allows the reader to completely dive into the book. I thought this technique in itself was very effective for the reader as it shows us the same scene but in different views. Diana’s view was in the first person and this really allows us to get inside her head and know exactly what she’s thinking. For a character like herself, I thought this was very effective. This book was an easy read and was very descriptive at times; there was a lot of imagery. It definitely kept me hooked. This book shows the struggles that some people encounter through life, but it also, in turn, shows the true beauty of life. This book really captures the fact that life is so unexpected sometimes. It shows us as readers that while most of the time the unexpected is feared and it usually seems to have an ugly facade, something good usually comes from it. Some form of beauty that gives us meaning in the end. One thing I found extremely interesting was that this book took on the extremely controversial and saddening topics of “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” and “Teen Pregnancy”, but it did so in a way that was light and witty at times. Although I could not exactly sympathize with these characters, I still found them and the story itself compelling.

  • Alex
    2019-02-28 08:12

    Kim Addonizio manages to fuse together a quirky novel and flowing prose in Little Beauties. She creates believable characters, a heartwarming plot, and packages it into a neat little novel. The story switches between two main characters. One of which is a woman by the name of Diana McBride, who has severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. She can not stick to one job or apartment because of the “contamination” that builds up. She has a list of rules, and she has stopped seeing her therapist because her husband left her, so what's the use of getting better if he left anyway? Diana's illness is wonderfully written, because it is believable. She makes her OCD sound reasonable, and you understand why Diana washes her hands every couple of minutes. The voice that Addonizio speaks in for Diana makes you feel for her. The second main character is Jamie Ramirez, a pregnant seventeen year old. Jamie doesn't want to keep the baby, but when she is forced to deliver early, she falls in love with little Stella. Jamie's character isn't very likable at first, but she grows on you, which is fitting because the narration is told mostly through Diana, and Jamie ends up growing on Diana as well. Through this novel, we are given glimpses into Stella's psych as well, even before she is born. This shows Addonizio's background as a poet, as she used these short chapters to paint a picture of wonderful imagery and flowing language. Diana is an employee at a department store that specializes in baby supplies. She is dealing with severe OCD, her husband leaving her, and an overbearing alcoholic mother. Jamie comes in and buys a bear for a baby she has no plans on keeping. A few days later, after Jamie gives birth and decides to keep Stella, her mother kicks her out, and Jamie begs Diana to let Jamie and Stella move in with her. This begins a quirky relationship, where Diana teaches Jamie to accept responsibility, Jamie teaches Diana to relax, and Stella teaches everyone the true meaning of love. Addonizio adds a light subplot with the character of Anthony Perillo. He's the man who helps Jamie deliver her baby, and then somehow gets involved in the lives of both Jamie and Diana. He's a likable character, and he brings a new element into the story. He tells Diana of his late wife, who died from cancer. Towards the end of the novel, we find that Stella is the recreation of Anthony's dead wife, who needed to see that Anthony was okay and moving on. Stella brings Anthony and Diana together, and we get the feeling that he is exactly what she needs to get her OCD under control. What I hope to accomplish someday is what Addonizio did in this novel. She incorporated a cute feel-good story with great characterization and then added her own touch of poetry. Her characters are believable and likable, and they grow in this 240-page novel.

  • Shannon
    2019-03-08 07:14

    “Little Beauties” Kim Addonizio Simon & Schuster 2005 When I first read this book I immediately thought that this is the future of the Toddlers and Tiaras contestants. Little Beauties is about the life of Diana McBride, a former child pageant star turned Employee of the Month at Teddy’s World, who suffers from a severe case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Her life is turned upside down the day a pregnant teenager, Jamie, comes into Teddy’s World and purchases a musical bear. We follow the lives of three very different and very vulnerable women Diana, Jamie and Jamie’s unborn child, Stella.Diana is the protagonist in the story and Addonizio writes her perspective in first person. We meet her in one of her most trying times, her husband just left her, she no longer sees her therapist and she’s on the brink of quitting her job, which she very much likes. Not to mention, her alcoholic mother criticizes her every move. What really made this character come to life was her consistency with OCD. Addonizio did an excellent job researching this disorder and showcased how it really affected Diana’s life in every possible way. “Rule #27: Wash any bedding that touches the floor” (21). The rules really played a great part in showing how much of a toll this disorder takes on Diana’s life, so much that her husband couldn’t take it anymore. However, you can’t help but think this didn’t stem from her relationship with her mother. Jamie and Stella were told in third person limited omniscient. Jamie’s character is very relatable because Addonizio created her in the eyes of distressed teenager on the brink of adulthood. She is thrown out of her house by her own mother and lives with Diana. Jamie is just as unstable as Diana, and makes awful choices throughout the entire novel. What captivated me most out of all the characters was Stella. We first meet her in The Before and she is the most levelheaded out of the bunch. She observes life in The Before and is able to have a connection with everyone intertwined in this novel. Like Diana and Jamie, she is figuring things out for herself and learning about life along the way. I think this was a bold move in characterization for an author but it was extremely fresh and worked well with novel.Addonizio leads the story through character development. Chapter after chapter, the story progresses through the choices made by Diana and Jamie and how everyone is impacted, even baby Stella. This style will really impact me as a writer because I didn’t care about the plot; I was so intrigued to what choices the characters were going to make next. As a writer, Addonizio’s perspective changes were really impressive. This allowed the novel to be very fast paced. All in all, this was a surprising and wonderful read.

  • Adrienne Santiago
    2019-02-27 06:22

    “Little Beauties”Kim AddonizioSimon & Schuster 2005Enter the world of Diana McBride: a former pageant star only to grow up, and become a neurotic employee of the month contender. She is constantly going from one job to the next, in search of herself, possibly. The thirty-four-year-old clearly has issues in her life that reflect on her actions. Her husband has left her, leaving her in the typical female state of waiting for the one phone call that will end her loneliness and bring back her “knight in shining armor”. Her mother may quite possibly be the bane of her existence and constantly bores away at her soul with her own neurotic behavior (makes me wonder where Diana gets it from). In the beginning, it seems all Diana has that is a constant in her life is working in a baby store, until her encounters with a pregnant teen, Jamie, turns her life in a completely different direction.The tone of the story begins upbeat. I liked how the novel is written in first person through Diana’s perspective, because it allows the reader to really understand and dive into this woman’s world. Although she is not a completely unique character, Diana has a lot of qualities that women can identify with, which helps us to understand her better. Her tone is not as carefree as she may have once been while she was a pageant queen, which I feel that the novel helps to guide us along from how her perspective may have changed considering all that has happened to her. There is also a lot of dry humor implemented within the story, especially through Diana’s perspective, which almost makes her seem sarcastic and cynical at times. Her illness does not help her situation, which I also find humor in it as well. I gave “Little Beauties” four stars, because the overall quality and tone of the story I was very drawn to. Diana’s cynicism combined with her nature to sell—just as she has sold her looks in beauty pageants and now parallels with selling at the baby store—makes her an interesting character. The characters’ thoughts and actions are opposite of one another, and the novel is appealing because it helps the reader to engage with the type of character Diana is. It may not be a fantasy novel, but I’d recommend this to women between the ages of twenty and forty.

  • Marielle
    2019-03-10 08:04

    Little Beauties explores another of my favorite traits, OCD. Our main character, Diana McBride, has a major washing problem that causes her husband to leave her. That and battling with post-beauty queen insecurities and a drunk mother, she has her work cut out for her, leaving jobs every few months just as she's won everyone over. Then we have Jamie, a twenty year old who is on the fast track to giving up her nearly born child to adoption services. That is until she has the baby one week early in the back of Anthony's car (a total stranger who's wife has died). Anthony was about to commit suicide on the Pacific Ocean, while Jamie was about to leave behind her now buried teddy bear she purchased from the same store (Teddy's World) that Diana works at. Diana was about to wash her hands again until she decides to walk down to the beach and find the bear. Eventually, all of their lives intertwine, including Stella, the baby, and Eva, Anthony's dead wife. My favorite idea that was explored was reincarnation. When Stella is in the womb she sees life, death, existence, in colors. The author is more of a poet and I think her talent is revealed when she writes through the perspective of Stella. It is even insinuated in a not to aggressive way, that Stella might be the reincarnation of Eva. She did this in the most believable and poetic way possible. Stella was my favorite character by far, battling to stay alive in a world where people forget to care for her. Even though Jamie was fun to watch on Ecstasy, it is almost known that she will go to her sick child in the end. What I didn't expect was for her unicorn obsessed mother to welcome her back with open arms, but it was a realistic and necessary character arc. Similarly, Diana's own mother, Gloria, takes a remarkable leap to finally care for her own daughter by understanding Diana's illness. The story is clever, although at times slightly too simple and not fully fleshed out. However, it was nice to see a woman with OCD being challenged to function in a diaper filled apartment, with a sick baby, that she will have to save. I just want to know what will become of Diana and Anthony!

  • Courtney Gustafson
    2019-02-26 06:27

    I picked up Little Beauties only because I once kind of enjoyed one line of one poem by Kim Addonizio. This, it turns out, is not sufficient reason to read 242 pages of fiction by the same author. Little Beauties is far-fetched at best. The novel tries to take on some big topics that don't all necessarily belong in the same plot: teenage pregnancy, absentee fathers, mother-daughter relationships, toddler beauty pageants, divorce, cancer, and, strangely, obsessive-compulsive disorder. The plot is weak, the characters underdeveloped. It reads as if Addonizio thought to herself, "I'm going to write a novel about X, Y, and Z!" and then proceded to do so without allowing any room for natural plot development, for characters to fill themselves in as people. It's all very mechanical, entirely devoid of genuine emotion. All of the scenes that should be the most fraught with emotion - the decision to give up a baby, the same baby's near-death experience - are flat. The portrayals of OCD rituals don't ring true. To add to the overall strangeness of the novel, alternating chapters are narrated by baby Stella, who begins as a fetus and eventually becomes an infant, and who is able to relate in a weird baby-talk stream-of-consciousness her own conception and birth. Plot and character issues aside, Addonizio's writing is inconsistent. There are sentences, whole paragraphs sometimes, of description that remind me of that one poem, of the power she has with words when she gets it right. But these are sparse. Mostly, the writing is simple and littered with cutesy phrases that try too hard. ("There is a little hair on his belly, and again below his navel, and a thick line of black hair leading down to his--okay, you can picture the rest.") I was overly aware of the writing throughout the book, too much so to become at all invested in the story.Bottom line: Little Beauties reads like Addonizio couldn't decide whether to write a heavy literary novel or a fluffy beach read, and tried to do both. Instead, the novel fails at being either.

  • Samy
    2019-02-28 09:02

    This book was enticing and held me in its grip the whole time. The whole time I found its irony humorous. Diana, thirty-four-year-old worker at a baby store deals with her OCD and mentally abusive alcoholic mother, now has young and pregnant Jamie to deal with. Through the book Jamie grows and develops while Diana does the same, using each other and others to do so. In the beginning Diana’s OCD was severe. She had just gotten off her meds and her husband had left her because he decided her condition was too much to handle. She was crippling under the stress of her condition and her mother that calls every once in a while and insults her. Vice versa Jamie had just gotten knocked up and her religious mother decides the only solution is to give birth to it and give it up for adoption. Jamie isn’t your ideal teen, although she has an honest relationship with her mother she does drugs and smokes. “A boy passed the bong to Jamie and held the match to the bowl while she sucked up all the smoke in the glass tube” (20). This shows that Jamie is represented to be an unfit mother and an under the influence teen. These characters develop later on. As the story went on Diana began to open to people more letting Jamie stay at her house and opening up to Anthony. Jamie begins to realize who she wants to be and morally changes herself by leaving her bad habits. She keeps her child and cares for her like she should. She then confides in her mother that kicked her out for not giving up the baby and they settle on terms. Overall this story gave me some new perspectives and show that even the lowest people can change themselves for good.

  • Catherine
    2019-02-22 06:13

    My rating of 3 stars is an average of the ratings I would give each of three narrators of the book, who tell the story in alternating chapters.Diana, dealing with her OCD without her medication after her husband's departure, I would give 5 stars. I thought her p.o.v. was very realistic and found her to be a mostly sympathetic character.Jamie, a pregnant recent high school graduate, who hates people but loves fashion, I would give 3 stars. Her character didn't entirely make sense to me, partially because certain aspects of her personality didn't go together and partially because I wanted to slap her. But in the end, I have to admit that she's probably a pretty realistic depiction of a certain type of teenage girl.The first-person narrative of Stella, Jamie's unborn and then newly born baby, I absolutely hated. One star is being generous. If the whole book had been told from her p.o.v., I wouldn't have made it through the first chapter. Apparently, Addonizio thought the baby had something to contribute to the story, but I found it to be hokey, new-agey, and just plain ridiculous. The idea that she picked Jamie to be her mother was laughable. I especially hated the revelation that she was somehow connected to another character in a past life. If Addonizio had written this novel alternating between Diana & Jamie, I probably would have given it 4 stars. (I picked this book because I enjoyed Addonizio's short story "Ever After" in My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales.)

  • Erica Satifka
    2019-03-16 08:16

    Really mixed opinion on this one... on the one hand this is one of the very few books I've read that do not attempt to "cutesify" the actually horrible symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. Diana, a compulsive washer, has just been left by her husband due to the severity of her disorder. She meets up with Jamie, a vapid, drug addicted, knocked up teenager who decides she wants to keep her baby after all, because babies are "like, so awesome." The most repugnant character was the fetus/baby (who inexplicably talks like a New Age guru) who debated for pages about whether she should succumb herself to SIDS after viewing the cruelty of the world. Eyerolls ensued when Addonizio got to the part about how the baby is the reincarnation of a character's dead wife--come on! (I have a very low tolerance for such things.) The ending is too "clean" (no pun intended), with the heroine going off into the distance with a new love (because love conquers all, even severe mental illness!) and Jamie getting everything she wanted like the spoiled brat she obviously is. And the baby doesn't die, which is maybe the most disappointing part.My advice: The Diana chapters are well written and true to the nature of OCD. Anyone who has dealt with it, as I have, will find themselves empathizing immediately with the character. However, seeing as how two-thirds of the book are devoted to characters who make me want to smash my head against a brick wall, I can't really recommend this one.

  • Katie
    2019-03-01 03:29

    I'm a BIG BIG fan of Addonizio's poetry, so fiction was a little difficult for me to get into. But I adore her so much I plunged forward.I liked it. Don't get me wrong...I very much identified with alot in this book. I read it just after I had my own first baby and I understood the sad, immature longings of the teenage character. Diana I had a harder time understanding because I don't suffer from OCD and don't really connect with that issue. Repugnant as some of the characters are...I felt that Addonizio made them compelling nevertheless. I mean, most of us are repugnant 99% of the time to someone. I could accept that about the characters.I guess the fetus narrative is what got me. I had a hard time with it. I am unclear about the function of this section and it was disorienting to me. Maybe I didn't understand? Anyway, my point is that the fetus narrative is problematic on many, many different levels and I couldn't find a good rationalization in my head to defend one of my favorite poet's of all time for the decision to give a voice to a fetus in a fictional novel. But this novel isn't at all horrible. I think that if you are young and romantically thinking that you want to have babies right away in your life...you might want to consider reading this book. There are some poetic passages in this book that are also more than worthy. It's a very contemporary plot. The dialogue was not at all lame.

  • Dianna
    2019-02-28 07:28

    Meh...so far...I read the book in a few hours but it was rediculous. I could relate to some of the things about the main character, who happens to be named Diana, but the Jamie character was so one-dimensional that by the end of the book I wanted to kill her. And what's up with the man, Anthony, coming in Diana's room and taking a shower with her when they just met yesterday? It's like there are 4 bad stories going on at once and none of them have any resolution. I'm glad I didn't have anything better to do today than to waste a few hours of my life reading a badly written book about a girl with ocd, a girl who has a baby and flies to New York after getting high and almost having sex with a boy she just met and a baby that tells its own story...rediculous!By the way, I have ocd and the Diana character with ocd is believable though my ocd is not germ related so I don't do the washing rituals. I read this book because of the ocd theme but I could write a book ten times better than this.

  • Jenny
    2019-03-13 02:15

    The writing is fluid and easy to read, and the story itself I enjoyed to a degree - however, I found it to be too light and too pretty a story to describe OCD, and a teenage mom. I was not terribly crazy about the fact that one of narrators is a baby, and knows more than she should, in terms of what things are and how the world operates. But this was a minor issue compared to the "prettiness" of the story. A few times, I felt like I was reading a romance novel, even though it was not actually heavy in romance - there was always the suggestion of it (particularly with the entrance of Anthony's character).So while I did actually enjoy reading it (and I agree that it would be a good "beach read"), I was a little disappointed in the way the characters were handled, and the way the OCD seemed less meaningful and less serious than I think it actually is. I don't think the compulsiveness and helplessness was adequately conveyed. I would have liked to sense the nature of her problems, rather than just know her rules and her thoughts.

  • Laura
    2019-03-13 08:26

    From a book summary: "Diana McBride, a thirty-four-year-old former child pageant contender, now works in a baby store in Long Beach. Between dealing with a catastrophic haircut, the failure of her marriage, and phone calls from her alcoholic mother, Diana has gone off her OCD medication and is trying to cope via washing and cleaning rituals. When pregnant teenager Jamie Ramirez enters the store, Diana's already chaotic world is sent spinning. Jamie can't stand being pregnant. She can't wait to get on with her normal life and give the baby up for adoption. But her yet-to-be-born daughter, Stella, has a fierce will and a destiny to fulfill. And as the magical plot of Little Beauties unfolds, these three characters' lives become linked in ever more surprising ways..."Wasn't really what I expected. Had some interesting story lines, such as insight into an unborn baby's mind, but overall not what I had in mind.

  • Bonnie
    2019-03-05 03:06

    Even though I loved this line below, there's so much more to this book."If only she'd asked Kevin to use a condom, but she didn't feel she knew him well enough." That's Jammie the pregnant teenager and one of the main characters in this most unusual book, and that line sums her up fairly well.This book has much to recommend it: I couldn't put it down for long.It's under 300 pages (always a plus). Short chapters. GREAT WRITING. A page turner.Unusual and unexpected occurrences. The characters seem very real. It's entertaining and a little amazing. Some might not like one of the concepts of the book but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm glad I discovered this author, thanks to the Writer's Almanac email I get everyday. Just when I think I don't have time to read it anymore, I find a gem like her.

  • Jordyn Traci
    2019-02-24 09:12

    I just finished this book because I thought it had an end. It didn't. It seemed to start a new story in the last few pages, then trailed off without any clarity.That being said, the actual beginning of the book was interesting. I like learning about psychological disorders such as OCD so I thought this book would be right up my alley. Throw in teenage pregnancy (another issue I'm interested in), and I thought this book would be a hit. However, the story fell flat somewhere near the middle.I'm not easily annoyed, but the role of Stella, the teenage girl's baby, pissed me off. I was irritated by her unnecessary narrative. Her voice had little purpose in the book until the end where the writer tried to make her role important - and it was a stretch.Worth the read? Meh. I almost wanted to throw this book out when I was done to spare someone else from reading it.

  • Ashley
    2019-03-06 08:05

    This was a quick read that was just ok. Little Beauties tells the story of Diana, a pageant contestant until her teen years who suffers from OCD, Jamie, a depressed pregnant teenager, and Stella, Jamie's baby. It was a quick-paced story in the beginning with the chapters bouncing back and forth between Diana, Jamie, and Stella's POV. They were likeable enough, but ultimately felt flat to me. I honestly liked Stella's POV quite a bit, until she started commingling with another character that I just wasn't buying. I wasn't a huge fan of the ending either; it felt like the end of just another chapter, but that was it for the book.I didn't hate, but can't really recommend it either. Meh.

  • Patti K
    2019-03-16 01:07

    This 2005 debut novel is by the wonderful poet Kim Addonizio. It is quite a start.The story revolves around a 30-something Diana who has just been left by her husbandbecause of her irritating behavior. Diana is OCD with cleaning and washing, afraid ofevery potential germ in her life. She works at a children's store and it is there shemeets pregnant 17 year old, Jamie. Their lives become entwined out of desperate needon Jamie's part. She gives birth in a car and originally wants to give the baby Stellaup for adoption. Her mind is changed and then changed again. Witty, sensuous detailsand astute psychological insights surround these characters lives. An enjoyabletale about facing harsh realities and trying to take them on. A hopeful ending but notat all sentimental.

  • Hannah
    2019-03-12 08:22

    Not very impressed. It entwines the stores of three characters -- one has OCD, and I like that story most. One narrates as an unborn child and then as a neonate -- I hate it! I think I recommend this only for someone on a cruise or in island or other similar setting in which they want a read, but don't have access to many book choices. **My system works like this: one star if I can't even finish it. two stars if I finish it but hated it. Three stars if I liked it but it wasn't anything special. Four stars for good books, and five for something great.** Technically, I have to give it 2 stars 'cause I finished it, but I am tempted to give it only one. I finished it 'cause a friend said it was on her reading list and in liking other things on her list I wanted to read/like it.