Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
Hi Bookish Friends - I just read this very popular book that spans decades in the lives of an Italian American family. Here is the publisher's description:
"An emotionally layered and engrossing story of a family that asks: Can love make a broken person whole?
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 it’s a relief when his skill on the basketball court earns him a scholarship to college, far away from his childhood home. He soon meets Julia Padavano, a spirited and ambitious young woman who surprises William with her appreciation of his quiet steadiness. With Julia comes her family; she is inseparable from her three younger sisters: Sylvie, the dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book and imagines a future different from the expected path of wife and mother; Cecelia, the family’s artist; and Emeline, who patiently takes care of all of them. Happily, the Padavanos fold Julia’s new boyfriend into their loving, chaotic household.
But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters’ unshakeable loyalty 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?
Vibrating with tenderness, Hello Beautiful is a gorgeous, profoundly moving portrait of what’s possible when we choose to love someone not in spite of who they are, but because of it."
I enjoyed listening to the audiobook of Hello Beautiful, though sometimes the pace felt a little slow, and the chapters could have been trimmed. William is a likable character and we sympathize with him, because we know about his dysfunctional childhood:
"He hated that his friend had to resume the duty of standing guard over his depression."
The story begins when William meets Julia in college...
“No one had ever wanted him before. He wished he could take her in his arms, in front of her sisters”
...and spans for decades as William and the sisters mature:
“'You gotta get outside and exercise, you gotta take your pills, and you gotta take care of other people. No bullshit and no secrets.'”
William learns for the first time in his life about unconditional love, when his sisters-in-law continue to support and embrace him even after his many transgressions:
“This act of generosity—Cecelia and Emeline had nothing to gain from him, personally—still struck him as extraordinary.”
Recommended for readers who enjoy family stories with beautiful descriptions of emotions and inner lives.
Note: Hello Beautiful is an Oprah Book Club pick!
Audiobook 15 hours; Hardcover 400 pages