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Hello Beautiful
Cover of Hello Beautiful
Hello Beautiful
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • From the 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

ONE OF THE CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY’S TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR 
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, NPR, The Washington Post, Time, Vogue, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Post, She Reads, Bookreporter

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.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK • From the 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

ONE OF THE CHICAGO PUBLIC LIBRARY’S TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR 
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, NPR, The Washington Post, Time, Vogue, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Post, She Reads, Bookreporter

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.
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  • From the cover William

    February 1960–­December 1978


    For the first six days of William Waters’s life, he was not an only child. He had a three-­year-­old sister, a redhead named Caroline after John F. Kennedy’s daughter. There were silent home movies of Caroline in which William’s father looked like he was laughing, a sight William never saw again. His father’s face looked open, and the tiny redhead, who pulled her dress over her face and ran in giggling circles in one of the movies, was apparently the reason. Caroline developed a fever and a cough while William and his mother were in the hospital after his birth. When they came home, the little girl seemed to be on the mend, but the cough was still bad, and when her parents went into her room to get her one morning, they found her dead in her crib.

    William’s parents never mentioned Caroline while William was growing up. There was one photograph of her on the end table in the living room, which William traveled to occasionally in order to convince himself that he’d actually had a sister. The family moved to a navy-­shingled house on the other side of Newton—­a suburb of Boston—­and in that house, William was an only child. His father was an accountant who worked long hours downtown. With his daughter gone, the man’s face never opened again. William’s mother smoked cigarettes and drank bourbon in the living room, sometimes alone and sometimes with a female neighbor. She had a collection of ruffled aprons that she wore while preparing meals, and she became agitated whenever one became stained or messy.

    “Maybe you shouldn’t wear the aprons while you cook,” William said once, when his mother was red-­faced and on the verge of tears over a dark blotch of gravy on the fabric. “You could tuck a dish towel in your belt instead, like Mrs. Kornet does.”

    His mother looked at him as if he’d spoken in Greek. William said, “Mrs. Kornet, who lives next door? Her dish towel?”

    From the age of five, William would walk to the nearby park most afternoons with a basketball, because basketball, unlike baseball or football, was a game he could play alone. There was a neglected outdoor court that usually had a hoop free, and he would shoot for hours, pretending he was a Celtics player. Bill Russell was his favorite, but to be Russell you needed someone else to block or defend against. Sam Jones was the best shooter, so William was usually Jones. He tried to imitate the guard’s perfect shooting form while pretending the trees that surrounded the court were cheering fans.

    One afternoon when he was ten years old, he showed up at the court and found it occupied. Boys—­maybe six of them, about William’s age—­were chasing one another and a ball between the hoops. William started to back away, but one of the boys called, “Hey, wanna play?” And then, without waiting for William to answer: “You’re on the blue team.” Within seconds, William was swept into the game, his heart pounding in his chest. A kid passed him the ball, and he passed it right back, afraid to shoot and miss and be told he was terrible. A few minutes later, the game broke up abruptly because someone needed to get home, and the boys spilled off the court in different directions. William walked home, his heart still rattling in his chest. After that, the boys were occasionally on the court when William showed up with his ball. There was no discernible schedule to their appearances, but they always waved him into the game as if he were one of them. This...
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    January 16, 2023
    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.

  • AudioFile Magazine Maura Tierney brings understated warmth to Napolitano's story about the enduring bonds of family. William Waters, who was raised in a household devoid of affection, is swept into the boisterous Padavano family when he marries eldest sister Julia. Tierney precisely conveys the sisters' personalities--Sylvie, bookish yet constantly seeking true love; Cecilia, artistic and brave; and her twin sister, Emmaline, the peacemaker. Tierney excels in bringing out the subtlest of emotions, especially as she describes how William's depression increases and affects the entire family. Her precise yet gentle narration works with Napolitano's prose, creating an immersive listening experience. Listeners will be drawn into this affecting, tender story and moved by each character's struggle to find belonging and love, even when it comes in unexpected places. S.A.H. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2023, Portland, Maine
  • Library Journal

    Starred review from August 1, 2023

    Napolitano's (Dear Edward) fourth novel is a gorgeous exploration of love and loyalty centering on four sisters in a tight-knit Chicago family and the young man who inadvertently wreaks havoc when he enters their lives. Although they have very different personalities, the Padavano sisters have always been extremely close, best friends as well as siblings. When William Waters meets and starts dating Julia, he falls in love with the Padavano clan as much as with the ambitious, somewhat uncompromising oldest sister. When their marriage falls apart, Julia feels betrayed that the sisters keep William in their lives. The family fractures for years until a health crisis brings them back together, at least temporarily. Maura Tierney expertly narrates this elegantly written but fast-paced domestic drama, flawlessly voicing each character and beautifully conveying tenderness, regret, hurt, and yearning as they try to redefine their places in their shattered family and the wider world. Tierney deftly manages the dual timelines and perspective shifts, building suspense. VERDICT Napolitano's sophisticated but bighearted story about family and friendship, radiantly performed by Tierney, could be one of the year's best audiobooks.--Beth Farrell

    Copyright 2023 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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