Book Reviews

Book Review: Hello Beautiful

By Ann Napolitano

Publication Date:  March 14, 2023

400 Pages

When William Waters asked Julia Padavano to marry him, he didn’t just get a wife.  He also inherited her tight-knit family – her dreamer father Charlie, disappointed mother Rose, and three sisters: Sylvie, Emeline, and Cecelia.  Julia is the fixer in the family, orchestrating the lives of everyone in her orbit.  But when William has a mental health crisis, she finds herself in a situation that she has no idea how to fix.  Nor does she want to.  With her infant daughter in tow, Julia leaves Chicago to start a life that once felt unimaginable; one away from her sisters.

Through decades of heartache, growth, and love, the Padavano sisters learn what it means to live, let go, and ultimately become their own person.

I’m going to admit, this is not one of my better synopsis.  Mainly because there’s so much going on in this book, it would take the entire review just to summarize it all.  The book blurb focuses on William and while he’s the catalyst, the novel is as much about Julia and Sylvie as it is about William.  About making mistakes, about standing by the choices we make, and about making amends.

“Hello Beautiful” interpreted by Wombo Dream

What I loved about this book was the characterization of each sister.  How different they were from each other, yet also how intertwined.  The parallel with Little Women was well done.  (Poor Beth.  No one ever wants to be Beth).  While this wasn’t a retelling, it seemed to have been an influence on the story.  At first I thought the author might have been taking on too many character points of view, but each one was handled so deftly and completely, that my concerns were unfounded.  The love that shone through on these pages was immense and it really took an emotional turn near the end.  I, for one, got a little weepy.

So why didn’t I rate it higher?  Honestly, the pacing kept throwing me out of the story.  Several chapters covered many years, often with a new character as the narrator, so events were skimmed over with little to no emotion.  I was simply told what happened and felt like I was playing catch up.  Then there would be several chapters in a row covering only a month or two with several points of view overlapping.  This is the second book in a row I found myself rereading an event from a different viewpoint.  Honestly, I thought those scenes could have been skipped and would have been better served as flashbacks.

Once I got through the emotional onslaught of the last few chapters, the book ended on a hopeful note.  Although anyone who likes a solid wrap-up might be a little disappointed.

In the end, I settled on 3.5/5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐+

Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group/Dial Press for providing the ARC ebook.  I’ve left my review honestly and voluntarily.

Until next time, thank you for visiting.

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