Spring Reading: Hello Beautiful By Ann Napolitano

Well, Hello, Beautiful story. I have one excellent book hanger with some sadness over leaving the fictional world of William and the Padavano Sisters. I find myself staring off into space, thinking about them and their lives. Ann Napolitano has written something beautiful and created something special with this tender, emotionally layered, honest portrayal of the human spirit and connections. She captures the up and downs of four vibrant and relatable sisters; however, the story centers around William, who seeks refuge with the sisters. He has grown up quite differently than they have. After losing his newborn sister, the grief paralyzed his parents, leaving them unable and unwilling to give William love and attention.

This isn’t your typical story that explores the loving bond of sisters; Ann Napolitano captures those up and downs, showing us a complicated, honest version of sisterhood with love, hurt, and betrayal. At first, they are inseparable, but as they grow older, they become their own person, pursuing what they want out of life while still being connected out of love and support. Themes of loyalty and separation, memories and grief, forgiveness and forgetting, kindness and resilience, marriage and parenting, and Ann gets to the core of the truth of human connection, whether we admit it or not.

“We hardly ever ask each other how we’ve been hurt.”

The pace is slow and quiet, and it took me a couple of chapters to slow my mind down enough to absorb the meaning of the beautiful words written, making this a great one for deep reading. Once I did, I was drawn into the characters’ lives, and I could relate to William’s need for basketball as I do with books for comfort and company.

“We look out the window, into ourselves for something more”

“Sometimes words were like pebbles thrown against a window, and what she was reaching for was the window itself.”

I loved how grief was explored through the loss of the sister’s father, whose memory and influence are content in their lives. They hear his voice greeting them, “Hello, Beautiful,” Their happy memory of him guides them through their grief, bringing them comfort and peace.

“We’re all part of something, all interconnected. When you see that, you see how beautiful life is.”

“We are not contained between our hats and boots.”

At first glance, this might seem like a comparison to Little Women; however, it is the sisters who compare themselves to the characters in Little Women, and while they each have those stereotypes, the bossy one, the bookish one, the artsy one and the sensitive caring one, Ann Napolitano breathes new life into the classic by giving the sisters their own identities separate from each other with their own conflicts and growth.

“It’s hard for me to accept the fact that we don’t choose who we love, because who you love changes everything.”

I received a copy from the publisher on NetGalley