William had a solitary upbringing tinged with grief, so it was something of a relief to marry into Julia's large, boisterous Italian family. Her parents and three sisters were nearly always there for her, physically and emotionally. Julia and her sisters could communicate opinions with a single glance; they were each others' first phone calls in times of triumph or tragedy, and they all seemed to know one another better than they knew themselves. William tried to fit in quickly and absorb the Padavano family shorthand. When a depressive spell sours William and Julia's marriage, he decides that a solitary life may be the only way to keep the people he loves from harm. But when the cloud lifts, William is surprised to find the one Padavano who's still by his side, unable to let go of the strongest connection she's ever felt. Napolitano's (Dear Edward, 2020) sweeping, Chicago-set family saga echoes Cristina Alger's The Darlings, Jonathan Tropper's This is Where I Leave You, and Adam Langer's Crossing California. With the vibrant and close-knit Pilson neighborhood playing a supporting role, Napolitano's latest novel investigates the deep, maddeningly frustrating, and ever-present love of family, whether tied by genetics or by choice.
Napolitano (Dear Edward) explores the meaning of love and family with this striking story of four Chicago sisters and the young man who enters their lives. William Waters, a basketball player from outside Boston, enrolls at Northwestern in 1978 on an athletic scholarship. After he starts dating fellow student Julia Padavano, he's embraced by Julia's three younger sisters--Sylvie, a romantic searching for a great love affair; Cecelia, an aspiring artist; and Cecelia's earnest and quiet twin, Emeline--and is delighted to find a loving and loud family so different from his own, his parents having grown taciturn after his older sister's death years before. William and Julia marry, while the unmarried Cecelia gets pregnant at 17, Sylvie presses on with a job at a library, and Emeline works at a daycare where she fosters a crush on a coworker. After one character attempts suicide, the bonds of the expanding family are tested, and the Padavano women reexamine the limits of how much they're willing to sacrifice. The author breathes great life into her characters, and brings insight into their quiet moments as they gradually come into their own. This will move readers. Agent: Julie Barer, Book Group. (Mar.)
Napolitano's (Dear Edward) fourth novel is a gorgeous exploration of love and loyalty centering on four sisters in a tight-knit Chicago family and the young man who inadvertently wreaks havoc when he enters their lives. Although they have very different personalities, the Padavano sisters have always been extremely close, best friends as well as siblings. When William Waters meets and starts dating Julia, he falls in love with the Padavano clan as much as with the ambitious, somewhat uncompromising oldest sister. When their marriage falls apart, Julia feels betrayed that the sisters keep William in their lives. The family fractures for years until a health crisis brings them back together, at least temporarily. Maura Tierney expertly narrates this elegantly written but fast-paced domestic drama, flawlessly voicing each character and beautifully conveying tenderness, regret, hurt, and yearning as they try to redefine their places in their shattered family and the wider world. Tierney deftly manages the dual timelines and perspective shifts, building suspense. VERDICT Napolitano's sophisticated but bighearted story about family and friendship, radiantly performed by Tierney, could be one of the year's best audiobooks.--Beth Farrell