If you haven’t read Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano yet, I urge you to do so as soon as you possibly can. I just finished reading it a couple of days ago, and I wanted to dedicate a whole post to its book review. It is that good.
I will start with a quick synopsis, so you have an idea what the book is about, followed by my thoughts.
A quick disclaimer, as you should probably expect from most of my reviews, is that it will contain some spoilers. Nothing that will ruin the book for you, hopefully! I’ll do my best to keep the spoilers at a minimum. It is hard to review a book in more depth without giving some important elements away.
Without further ado, let me start my Hello Beautiful book review
William Waters grew up in a loveless home, after the family endured a tragedy that completely broke them. But even as a little boy, he finds comfort in dribbling his basketball.
The game becomes his escape, and it subsequently shapes his life as an adult. He qualifies for a scholarship and moves away to attend college, where he meets Julia Pavadano.
Julia is an ambitious, spirited young woman who is super close to her three sisters. Contrary to William, she grew up in a loud, loving household.
Sylvie, a very independent young lady, is happiest when she has her nose stuck in a book. She is not looking to follow the traditional path that is expected from women in the early 1980s.
Cecelia is a creative artist and painter while Emmeline, Cecilia’s twin, loves taking care of everybody.
The whole family embraces William and accepts him as part of their lives. Therefore, to nobody’s surprise, Julia and William marry right after college.
But the darkness that followed William since birth eventually catches up to him, and a tragic event breaks up their strong familial bonds.
Will love be enough to make a broken person whole again?
My Hello Beautiful Book Review
I can just say that my book review of Hello Beautiful is that it is possibly the best book I read this year so far. Maybe even more than Mad Honey, which I absolutely loved. I will re-think it throughout the year, but it’s a possibility.
Because I have so many thoughts about this book, I will try my best not to ramble on.
Now, another thing that was very important to me was the setting of the novel. There were lots of references to the library where Sylvie worked. She spent most of her life at the library which was at the center of the book. That is another reason I absolutely adored this book so much.
The story is told over a couple of decades, starting from the early 1980s until 2008. It is also an important part of the story, as you will shortly see. It is very strong on character development, and you are transported through each of the main characters as they grow through the decades. That is another facet which I enjoyed tremendously.
Let me now develop a little on the themes of this book, which I find there were quite a few.
One of the sisters comes out as a lesbian, which is a taboo in a catholic family in the 80s. Although not a major part of the book, it is somewhat relevant to the story. Mostly to point out how catholic families at the time felt about homosexuality, and the prejudices that were a result of the flawed religious thinking. The mother, Rose, didn’t want anything to do with her daughter because she thought that she would embarrass the family.
Choices in Life
I like that all the four sisters chose to find their own path and therefore lived happy, fulfilled lives. Sometimes they were wondering how their lives would have been had they gone the traditional way it was expected of them. But they were pretty content and decided to follow their instincts. Some choices made by the parents in this novel are also questionable, but they were done out of love for their children. Intending to protect them, did they really do them any favors though?
It isn’t a major part of the book, but mental illness shaped most of Williams’ decisions as an adult. It explains why he acted a certain way, and whether you agree with them or not, the topic was well incorporated into the story. The author, without delving on the subject too much, alludes to the impact it has on his daily life as well as those close to him.
Most families during the 1980s expected their girls to find some nice boy to marry. When all the sisters defied those expectations in their own way, Rose, their mother, was seriously disgruntled. She moved out of state to evade the shame she felt, and to avoid her neighbors’ gossip.
But they all showed their courage and bravery at sticking to their convictions, and living their lives according to their own rules.
Even in close relationships, when people expect their partner to be something they think they should be can create major discord within their dynamics. It was also a topic that was briefly touched upon in the book.
This is the major theme of the book, and the author weaves it expertly into the storyline without overwhelming the reader. As a family saga the dynamics of the family is expected, but when it is so well done it makes reading the book so much more enjoyable.
The sisters had a very close bond from childhood and even though they never thought they could ever be separated, certain events broke their closeness as they became adults.
Grudges and regrets are also a bit part of the book, and many readers can relate to the way Rose reacted to the decisions her daughters made.
Can the mistakes they made when they were young be forgiven? And will beauty and the cost of love reunite the sisters and glue back together their broken bonds?
I will leave you with some questions, since you probably want to read the book and form your opinions for yourself.
This concludes my Hello Beautiful book review.
I really hope that you will pick up this book and give it a chance. It made me feel so good while reading it, I highly recommend it.
Ann Napolitano is a new author to me. But now I want to read Dear Edward, which I hear is even better than Hello Beautiful.
Until next time, my fellow bookworms!