Little Beauties

A Novel

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 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.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780743271837 | 
  • July 2006
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Reading Group Guide

Reading Group Discussion Guide
Little Beauties: A Novel
By Kim Addonizio

  1. "My mother made me understand that everything was subordinate to my beauty." What role does Diana McBride's past life as the star of child beauty pageants play in her current predicament as an obsessive-compulsive woman with low self-esteem?

  2. The friendships that arise between Diana, Jamie, and Anthony seem unconventional in many respects. Do these connections seem dependent primarily on random coincidence, or can they be traced in some larger sense to each character's individual destiny?

  3. Over the course of Little Beauties, how does the theme of mothering get developed and expanded upon in the relationships between Diana and Gloria, Jamie and Mary, Jamie and Stella, Diana and Jamie, and Diana and Stella?

  4. "I am definitely not keeping the baby." How does Jamie Ramirez reconcile her hopes and dreams as a seventeen-year-old girl with the reality of her pregnancy and unborn child? What do you think explains her sudden change of heart with respect to keeping Stella?

  5. How do Diana's "rules" and "homework" serve to frame her obsessive-compulsive disorder? What role do these guidelines play in the larger structure of the novel?

  6. "It's all about loss, this place. It's all about pain, and maybe you don't, after all, want to feel t
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About the Author

Kim Addonizio
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Kim Addonizio

Kim Addonizio is the author of several acclaimed poetry collections, including What Is This Thing Called Love and Tell Me, which was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award. Her poetry and fiction have appeared widely in literary journals and anthologies, including The Paris Review, Microfiction, Narrative, The Mississippi Review, and others. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and two NEA grants, Addonizio lives in Oakland, California.