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HELLO BEAUTIFUL by Ann Napolitano


by Ann Napolitano

Pub Date: March 14th, 2023
ISBN: 9780593243722
Publisher: Dial Press

Who do we deserve to love and be loved by?

Drawn into the orbit of a tightknit family upon falling for Julia, the eldest of the four Padavano sisters, William Waters experiences the kind of family solidarity, affection, and sense of belonging he never had with his own dysfunctional parents. William developed an (initially) effective coping strategy during his lonely childhood and devotes his energies toward succeeding in the only place he feels comfortable: the basketball court. College sweethearts, Julia and William marry and begin a life together directed mostly by Julia’s wishes for stability and status; the plan and relationship are derailed by William’s gradual decline into a crippling depression. Julia and William divorce, and William distances himself from their infant daughter, Alice, too. Relationships between and among William and all of the Padavanos rupture and realign over the ensuing decades as Napolitano spins a saga of familial love, deception, and hope for healing while adeptly highlighting each family member’s unique position in the narrative. Each of the Padavano girls is finely described—there's Julia, who's straightforward and driven; Sylvie, dreamy and romantic; and twins Cecelia (artistic) and Emeline (the sensitive moral compass of the group)—and it is entirely plausible that the girls envision themselves from time to time as the March sisters from Little Women. (Rounding out that parallel is the presence of a dreamy, poetic father and a hardworking, long-suffering mother.) More subtly, the influence of Walt Whitman is felt throughout the book, from epigraph to end, as characters come to terms with their roles in an evolving universe. As in Napolitano’s recent Dear Edward (2020), heartbreaking circumstances shatter the lives of relatable human characters who are unprepared for the task of building a meaningful life.

Napolitano’s characters can break your heart as they work to mend their own.