A tale of four sisters, their parents, their children and their husband. If I had to sum this book up in one word, it would be sad. Sisters are usually close, share everything,and in this book that rings true more than most. Still a good story.
"She carried a book at all times - to read, yes, but also as a handy shield for when she wanted to deflect the attention of other people. She would position a book in front of her face and think, or simply hide." Hello Beautiful - Ann Napolitano
Most bookish people can relate to this quote, even extroverts like me. Ann Napolitano understands readers, and her newest novel Hello Beautiful proves she understands much about love, loss, and family.
I adored this emotional character-driven story that features the Padavano family - father Charlie, mother Rose, and four sisters: Julia the leader, bookish Sylvie, artistic Cecelia, and Emeline the caregiver. If a family of four daughters draws comparison to the March family in Little Women, the similarity is intentional.
William Waters meets Julia in college and is drawn into the family. With its big emotions and strong opinions, it's completely different from his own. Basketball has been the framework of William's life, but when an injury ends his playing days, he flounders. Julia pulls him into her life plan, which works ... until it doesn't. After a series of events, the Padavanos fracture in sudden and surprising ways - can love heal and reunite them?
This plot includes significant life events (child death, parental death, depression, attempted suicide, etc.) in 'quiet' and realistic ways. I have no sisters and was interested in watching their relationships ebb and flow. I also appreciated the depiction of supportive male friendships and the ways William uses his unique talents to help others.
Hello Beautiful also has a strong sense of place. Most of it takes place in specific Chicago neighborhoods with New York City as a secondary setting.
I first experienced Ms. Napolitano's writing when I read Dear Edward for book club last year. I loved that reading experience and was apprehensive that Hello Beautiful wouldn't meet my high expectations. Thankfully my concerns were without merit.
Thank you to The Dial Press and NetGalley for the review copy of this novel that will very likely be among my favorites of 2023.