Hello Beautiful (Oprah's Book Club)
OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • From the New York Times bestselling author of Dear Edward comes a “powerfully affecting” (People) family story that asks: Can love make a broken person whole?
“Another tender tearjerker . . . Napolitano chronicles life’s highs and lows with aching precision.”—The Washington Post
William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him—so when he meets the spirited and ambitious Julia Padavano in his freshman year of college, it’s as if the world has lit up around him. With Julia comes her family, as she and her three sisters are inseparable: Sylvie, the family’s dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book; Cecelia is a free-spirited artist; and Emeline patiently takes care of them all. With the Padavanos, William experiences a newfound contentment; every moment in their house is filled with loving chaos.
But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters’ unshakeable devotion to one another. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations. Will the loyalty that once rooted them be strong enough to draw them back together when it matters most?
An exquisite homage to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, Little Women, Hello Beautiful is a profoundly moving portrait of what is possible when we choose to love someone not in spite of who they are, but because of it.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Ann Napolitano’s tenderhearted family drama is an exquisite and absorbing read. College student William Waters, who used a basketball scholarship to escape his cold, emotionally neglectful home, falls in love with his spunky classmate Julia Padavano. Soon, William’s drawn into Julia’s close-knit band of sisters: independent Sylvie, creative Cecelia, and nurturing Emeline. Loosely inspired by Little Women, Hello Beautiful opens in the late ’70s and spans the next 30 years, giving us an incredible view of how our most treasured relationships can be tested by our personal choices. As heartbreaking events challenge the Padavano clan’s core belief that family love can overcome anything, we found ourselves reading and reading to find out how these wonderful characters’ lives would pan out.
Napolitano (Dear Edward) explores the meaning of love and family with this striking story of four Chicago sisters and the young man who enters their lives. William Waters, a basketball player from outside Boston, enrolls at Northwestern in 1978 on an athletic scholarship. After he starts dating fellow student Julia Padavano, he's embraced by Julia's three younger sisters—Sylvie, a romantic searching for a great love affair; Cecelia, an aspiring artist; and Cecelia's earnest and quiet twin, Emeline—and is delighted to find a loving and loud family so different from his own, his parents having grown taciturn after his older sister's death years before. William and Julia marry, while the unmarried Cecelia gets pregnant at 17, Sylvie presses on with a job at a library, and Emeline works at a daycare where she fosters a crush on a coworker. After one character attempts suicide, the bonds of the expanding family are tested, and the Padavano women reexamine the limits of how much they're willing to sacrifice. The author breathes great life into her characters, and brings insight into their quiet moments as they gradually come into their own. This will move readers. Agent: Julie Barer, Book Group.
The book allowed the reader to live in each character’s emotions while dealing with life. In reading this story my emotions were raw and real for each character’s challenges. The character with mental health issues was written with clarity, sensitivity and compassion. Thank you.
DEEPLY MELANCHOLY NOVEL OF A FRACTURED FAMILY
If I had had a better idea of how this sad book would unfold I never would have started it. As a person who has struggled for decades with suicidal depression, I didn’t need to read about these women’s circumscribed lives, capacity for self-deception, and willingness to inflict harm on their daughters, not to mention husbands and lover. Suffocating.
A Great Book Club Pick!
This book will rip your heart out before slowly putting it back together and developing into a heartwarming story. A well told story that highlights many issues including childhood neglect/ abandonment, trauma, and depression and the dangers of not getting help for them.
This book highlights the ups and downs of William’s life and how his childhood experiences shaped his adulthood. William felt he was never recognized as a child until boys on the basketball court invited him to play. His parents didn’t pay much attention to him, due to his parents grieving about his sister’s death. Therefore, William knew he had to create the life he wanted on his own. Thanks to advice he was given early on about basketball, he was able to be successful in high school, where he was awarded a scholarship to play for Northwestern University.
William found support in his college girlfriend Julia, who supported him along with her family throughout college. William and Julia ended up getting married. William’s life is consumed with basketball, teaching, grad-school, his wife and a new baby, but will this be enough? Is this the life that makes him happy? This book will have you turning the pages to find out.
I loved how even though the book was focused on William, the author chose to have each chapter from a different perspective, including William. Each chapter that was not from the perspective of William was from a person who was important to William, such as his wife, daughter, sister-in-law, on their perspectives and how he affected their lives.
This author does a good job of capturing the struggles and grief of the characters! This book is not for the light-hearted as it dives into heavy-hitting topics. Even though this book will leave you feeling satisfied in the end, it’s one of those stories that leaves a lasting impression!
Perfect for those who are fans of Elizabeth Strout and Elizabeth Berg as this book reminds me a lot of books written by them. A great book club pick as well as this will lead to many interesting discussions.