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KPCW invites members of the Friends of the Park City and Summit County libraries to review novels and non-fiction every month.

May 2024 Book Review | 'Hello Beautiful'

"Hello Beautiful" by Ann Napolitano is KPCW's Book Review for May.
The Dial Press
"Hello Beautiful" by Ann Napolitano is KPCW's Book Review for May.

“Hello Beautiful” by Ann Napolitano is a richly woven novel about the complex bonds of family and friendship. It lays bare our vulnerabilities as human beings, exposing the power of relationships and how deeply the past can shape the present.

Oprah Winfrey picked “Hello Beautiful” as her 100th book club selection last year because she loved the focus on sisterhood, grief, longing, and love. At its center is the Padavano family in Chicago, four sisters who may remind some of the characters in Little Women, and William Waters, a troubled young man whose lonely and emotionally barren childhood is rooted in grief and tragedy.

William’s one solace that provides him refuge and comfort is basketball, which leads him far away from parents that do not love him, to an athletic scholarship at Northwestern University. There he meets Julia and her three sisters, Sylvie, Cecelia, and Emiline. Through them William discovers what it feels like to be part of a family that is deeply rooted in their bonds of love and devotion. Although his aspiring basketball career does not go in the direction he wanted, it does provide William with something else lacking from his childhood – lifelong friends who are always there for him.

When tragedy intervenes, trauma follows, uprooting everything in both William’s world and that of the sisters, threatening to destroy their previously unbreakable bond of sisterhood. The catastrophic rift that results spans decades. The author masterfully weaves us through the full gamut of emotions, feelings and actions of characters trying to make sense out of what is happening around them, based on their perception of reality.

Ultimately, the author shows us how a change in perspective can allow us to see the truth in a different way, thereby enabling us to forgive and love again. One of the things I especially liked about this book is how the author doesn’t pass judgement on the actions of her characters. Instead, she leads us to understand that being human means we are imperfect, and through love, resilience and even grief, we can overcome adversity and thrive, despite our past.

“Hello Beautiful” can be found at our local libraries.