Set in Oakland, California, All the Tiny Beauties begins with a kitchen fire that sends the reclusive Webster Jackson to the home of his new neighbor, Colleen, who discovers him on her doorstep wearing a lacy peignoir, his house in flames. Unwilling to take responsibility for the lonely eccentric, Colleen reaches out to Webb’s estranged daughter, Debra, and also helps him find a live-in companion, a young adult reeling from the loss of her childhood friend.
As Webb’s past comes to light, we learn of the women whose lives shaped his own: his refined and coddling mother; his ex-wife Beverly, a frustrated former beauty queen who refashions herself, becoming a force of will and master manipulator; and Hila Firestone, a home economics teacher who opens Webb’s world, accepting and even encouraging his predilection for women’s clothing.
Moving among perspectives and generations, we see the longings and vulnerabilities that drive and impede these characters as their stories intertwine—Webb’s first love clashing with his last, Colleen embarking on a secret affair with Debra, the older Webb and his young housemate, Hannah, forming a bond over tragedy, guilt, and his passion for baking. Confronting the many ways they’ve failed others as well as themselves, Webb, Colleen, Hannah, and Debra slowly find ways forward, ways out. While exploring the fragile nature of our connections to one another, All the Tiny Beauties asks larger questions about the constraints society imposes that warp and wound, leading us to deny those things that make us wholly ourselves.
300 pages | 6 x 9
ISBN: 9781946724533 (pbk)
PRAISE FOR ALL THE TINY BEAUTIES
“The best books are the ones that fill holes—in our lives, in our hearts, in our bookshelves—we didn’t even know we had until the books showed up to fill them. Jenn Scott’s All the Tiny Beauties is one of those books. It is a time-traveling, mind-bending wonder, a novel about Oakland now and then, about the fluidity of gender, of family, of place. It reminds me of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit from the Goon Squad in its wicked sense of humor; its intelligence; its patience; its careful, fond study of how love can drift into hate and then, if we’re lucky, back into love again. A wonderful first novel by one of our most talented up-and-coming writers.” —Brock Clarke, author of Who Are You, Calvin Bledsoe?
“All the Tiny Beauties is a wonder, an arrow-to-the-heart kind of a novel. At once compact and expansive, this book is part family reckoning, part love story, part grappling with notions of gender that both complete and confine us. Like Jenny Offill in Department of Speculation, Scott is a master at balancing the melancholic longing of her characters with moments of bristling hilarity and joy. All the Tiny Beauties is a wise and urgent novel that rewards you on every page.” —Sarah Domet, author of The Guineveres
“Set in California, Jenn Scott’s novel All the Tiny Beauties is a multigenerational story of love and survival. Since he was young, Webb struggled, time and again, to fill the imposed social rituals of “manliness.” . . . Now, just as Webb explores what it’s like to dress as a woman, the women in his life are also searching for themselves. But unhappiness follows Webb and others as they weave webs of lies. None of them are able to be content without admitting to their true selves, and each of their lives is made up of many parts. . . . All the Tiny Beauties is a careful, beautiful literary novel that ponders the contents of happiness and the purpose with which people lead their lives. By questioning what it means to conform to gender and social roles, it makes a deep investment in the multiplicity of identities.” —Foreword Reviews