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Cover of Hello Beautiful by Ann NapolitanoHello Beautiful

by Ann Napolitano

GENRE: Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction, Domestic Fiction

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 when he meets the spirited and ambitious Julia Padavano in his freshman year of college, it’s as if the world has lit up around him. With Julia comes her family, as she and her three sisters are inseparable: Sylvie, the family’s dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book; Cecelia is a free-spirited artist; and Emeline patiently takes care of them all. With the Padavanos, William experiences a newfound contentment; every moment in their house is filled with loving chaos.

But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters’ unshakeable devotion 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?

Discussion Guide

Headshot of Ann Napolitano Author Biography

Ann Napolitano is the bestselling author of Hello Beautiful which was selected as Oprah’s 100th Book Club pick; Dear Edward, an instant New York Times bestseller, a Read with Jenna selection, and an Apple TV+ series; A Good Hard Look, and Within Arm’s Reach. For seven years, Napolitano was the associate editor of the literary magazine One Story, and she received an MFA from New York University. She has taught fiction writing at Brooklyn College’s MFA program, New York University’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies, and Gotham Writers Workshop. - Penguin Random House

More Titles By This Author



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.

Publisher's Weekly

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.)

Library Journal

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


Cover of Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth KeaneAsk Again, Yes
by Mary Beth Keane

Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses--the loneliness of Francis's wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian's wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come.

Cover of Family Lore by Elizabeth AcevedoFamily Lore
by Elizabeth Acevedo

Flor has a gift: she can predict, to the day, when someone will die. So when she decides she wants a living wake—a party to bring her family and community together to celebrate the long life she’s led—her sisters are surprised. Has Flor foreseen her own death, or someone else’s? Does she have other motives? She refuses to tell her sisters, Matilde, Pastora, and Camila.

But Flor isn’t the only person with secrets: her sisters are hiding things, too. And the next generation, cousins Ona and Yadi, face tumult of their own.

Cover of Little Women by Louisa May AlcottLittle Women
by Louisa May Alcott

The four March sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy – live in financial hardship in New England with their mother, while their father has been drafted to fight in the Civil War. The girls embark on a series of adventures and endure a number of unexpected misfortunes – experiences that allow their personalities to emerge: Meg sensible and outgoing, Jo literary and boyish, Beth musical and shy, and Amy artistic and selfish – but the bonds holding together the March family remain unbroken.