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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

Ann Napolitano's Hello Beautiful explores family bonds, broken connections, forging through pain, allowing for unconventional routes to happiness, and finding forgiveness.

William grew up in a family broken by tragedy, the darkness and trauma of which shaped his childhood and overshadowed everything. He is emotionally closed off and only reliant upon himself.

When he meets driven, plan-focused Julia in his freshman year of college, she pulls him into her high-spirited, joy-filled, energetic orbit--and into her loving family, which includes her volatile and no-nonsense mother, her beloved and romantic father, and her three charming sisters, who have always felt like interconnected pieces of a whole.

William's entry into the Padavano family dynamic shifts things irrevocably, and he finds himself frequently in wonder at the deep connections shared by Julia's siblings and parents.

It begins to seem that he and Julia are better suited on paper than in reality, but who is William to say what a relationship should feel like, after all, and meanwhile, don't William and the relationship tick off some of Julia's key boxes on her life's checklist?

When William's painful history resurfaces, it shakes the entire family with its repercussions. It's not clear whether he and Julia can go on--or if her family will ever be the same.

This is a book that quietly builds to a deep crisis for Edward, Julia, and all of the Padavanos. Napolitano takes the reader through a series of disastrous events and through sometimes unconventional routes to picking up the pieces. The group experiences rifts that none of the characters could have imagined, yet the extended family manages to go on.

I didn't expect the ways in which various characters redefine their bonds and reconsider their places in the world when they make choices that separate them from each other. The ways in which the family members reconvene were not neat or without pain, but were intriguing.

The book is largely about rejecting society's expectations, learning to know yourself, and allowing for forgiveness.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Napolitano is also the author of Dear Edward, a heartbreaking and lovely book I adored.

I received an electronic version of this title courtesy of NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group.

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