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Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
Literary fiction

Hello Beautiful

by Ann Napolitano

Quick take

We all may contain multitudes but sometimes it takes the help of friends and found family to see beauty in our layers.

Good to know

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  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Inspirational


  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Underdog


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Siblings



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?

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of Hello Beautiful.

Why I love it

In Dear Edward, Ann Napolitano gave us an amazing story about resilience and building a new life with hope, grace, and love. She works that magic again in Hello Beautiful, a profoundly moving story about the power of human connection and family loyalty, and a gorgeous modern tribute to Louisa May Alcott’s classic Little Women.

The story begins in the 1960s with William Waters, a neglected, broken boy who escapes his loveless home by earning a basketball scholarship to Northwestern. There, he meets Julia Padavano, the oldest of four sisters who are remarkably close, and becomes part of her loving, boisterous family. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child, but I’ve always wanted a big family like the Padavanos—the chaos, the constant drama, the messy, loud fights and even messier, louder reconciliations , and through it all, a seemingly unbreakable bond. But can William truly become part of a family so unlike his own? And what happens when tragedy strikes and threatens—perhaps even severs—that bond of loyalty?

There’s so much to love and admire about this book: the way Napolitano masterfully captures the defining moments in two families’ lives over a span of 50 years, the sensitive exploration of the impact of mental illness, fascinating insights on the role of women in business in the 1980s, and even action-packed basketball scenes! (A huge plus for me, putting on my mom-of-three-basketball-crazed-boys hat.) Hello Beautiful is a book to treasure and share with friends and loved ones.

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Member ratings (6,282)

  • Stephanie F.

    Warrington, PA

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ BEAUTIFULLY written, well-developed story following sisters through their intertwined lives and the bonds of family. I loved the characters and couldn’t stop reading to learn their fates.

  • Debbie K.

    Ithaca, NY

    Written in various voices throughout several decades it is rich, complex, filled with the emotion of a messy family. Marriage and child rearing are complicated and don’t come with an owner’s manual.

  • Elizabeth K.

    Grandville, MI

    Hello Beautiful indeed! At times, while I was reading it, I thought, I can’t recommend this. It felt so sad, heavy. But if you’re willing, the painful parts are worth it, just like Life. 5 stars.

  • Dianne H.

    Oceanside, CA

    This was one of the best books I have read. The sadness of a boy who was unloved, and how it was the undercurrent throughout most of his life . It ended on a hopeful note, which was his breakthrough.

  • Katherine D.

    Bay City, MI

    This book had a lot of character development! I almost quit the book after 200 pages but I couldn’t leave one of the main characters, William. I am glad I stuck with it! Second half fast!Incredible!!!