The Whole Beautiful World


By (author): Melissa Kuipers
ISBN 9781927366622
Softcover | Publication Date: October 10, 2017
Book Dimensions: 5.5 in x 8.5 in
208 Pages

About the Book

Original, witty, and subtle, these stories feature characters who must navigate life in a small town, and will appeal to fans of Miriam Toews and Kathleen Winter.

This collection of beautifully crafted short stories features complex characters whose internal struggles manifest in their most intimate relationships, told by a writer with a compassionate eye.

A narrator watches her social sphere deteriorate after her boyfriend’s rough-housing leads to his best friend’s tragic paralysis. Childhood sweethearts, finally united later in life, find that they are not the soulmates they believed themselves to be. After her mother becomes depressed after a miscarriage, a daughter takes on the role of caregiver.

Set in fictional small rural towns, these stories explore young people who grow up against a religious backdrop, mothers who baulk against society’s imposed identities, and characters who explore their individual roles within their families as they navigate sexuality, suffering, and shame. These narrators are blunt and sometimes obsessive, but bravely optimistic as they strive to be the best versions of themselves.

As her characters struggle to discern deception from reality, using their limited resources to parse charm and charisma from credibility, Kuipers understated style is full of dark wit and detailed observation.

About the Author(s)

Melissa Kuipers was born and raised on an egg farm in Aylmer, Ontario, and she grew up in a tight-knit Dutch-Canadian Christian community. She holds a Masters in English in the Field of Creative Writing at the University of Toronto. She has been published in the Rusty Toque, Grain, Joyland, Ryga, Qwerty, and the Puritan. Melissa lives in Hamilton, Ontario, with her husband, Mark, and infant son, Elliott.


“In this soft-sold and pithy new collection of short stories, Kuipers presents a myriad of complicated Canadian women. . . . The stories are tight and deeply entertaining; readers will likely gobble the whole book in one satisfying sitting . . . a sly and slim collection.” —Booklist

“Kuipers’ light touch and eye for telling details will keep the reader wanting more. A collection of delicate sketches that mark Kuipers as a writer of promise.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Kuipers recovers for us the intimate world of youth on the lip of adulthood: their loneliness, self-consciousness, spiritual longings, self-castigations, dreams. Trapped in poverty or their own bigotry, adults mostly fail them woefully, but this is not a dark book. The Whole Beautiful World is written with compassion and a resonant wisdom.” —Rosemary Sullivan, author of Stalin’s Daughter

“I loved these stories. Melissa Kuipers’ voice is honest, original and sometimes very funny. Her stories of teenage life in churchy small towns deliver punches above their size. Observant, ironic and questioning, she is never predictable. Amidst the crowd of emerging writers pay attention to Melissa Kuipers.” —Katherine Govier, author of The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel

“In subtle, understated prose, yet with deep compassion, these stories reveal the private hopes, secret loves, and stinging regrets that complicate the lives of young girls and women.” —Hugh Cook, author of Heron River

“[Kuipers’] protagonists, many of whom are teenagers, face huge struggles: alienation, poverty, loneliness, and spiritual confusion. Each story packs an emotional punch, despite lasting only a few pages. And yet, as the title suggests, The Whole Beautiful World isn’t a bleak book. The stories are complex, bittersweet, and highlight the brilliance of everyday life.” —Hamilton Spectator

“Kuipers has plenty of ability, much of it on display in The Whole Beautiful World.” —Hamilton Review of Books

“Memorable and original.” —Kerry Clare, author of Mitzi Bytes

Kuipers joins Hamilton Morning Live to speak about her appearance at Grit Lit—Hamilton’s Readers and Writers Festival.

Kuipers discusses her debut story collection with Jamie Tennant on the Get Lit podcast.