Hello Beautiful: A Novel Audible Audiobook – Unabridged
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER OPRAH’S BOOK CLUB PICK From the author of Dear Edward comes a “powerfully affecting” (People) family story that asks: Can love make a broken person whole?
“Another tender tearjerker . . . Napolitano chronicles life’s highs and lows with aching precision.”—The Washington Post
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?
An exquisite homage to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, Little Women, Hello Beautiful is a profoundly moving portrait of what is possible when we choose to love someone not in spite of who they are, but because of it.
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|Listening Length||15 hours and 6 minutes|
|Audible.ca Release Date||March 14 2023|
|Publisher||Random House Audio|
|Best Sellers Rank|| #61 in Audible Books & Originals (See Top 100 in Audible Books & Originals) |
#3 in Literary Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#5 in Women's Fiction (Audible Books & Originals)
#7 in Literary Fiction (Books)
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* I applaud author for attempting to give characters depth & complexity but she violated basic rule of show, don't tell. Too much of the characters' personalities were explained with excess exposition but not SHOWN to readers through actions or dialogue.
* While I don't adhere that authors should write only what they know, it was obvious to me early on the author didn't grow up with sisters, nor grow up or spend years in Pilsen or blue-collar Chicago. Neither felt authentic. Felt more as if author was on outside observing or imagining versus having lived it. I can overlook some tells, but the more those slips/omissions/errors add up, the more a reader loses faith in the entire story.
*William's upbringing also didn't ring true. I can understand grief-stricken parents emotionally absent in a child's life, but not to the degree explained (not shown) in the book. More development and examples were needed, as parents cannot simply ignore a child--they still need to nurse, feed, cloth and shelter, etc. It's easy to tell but author needed to again SHOW us how cold parents can be there, but not present.
* On plus side, the story & writing comes most alive to me with passages on basketball--the relationships, the tempo, the love of the game, the history. Here's where the author did her homework and really did a nice job translating it, esp to female readership (not to sound sexist, as I'm a woman who played basketball in her youth but still learned a few things or two and appreciated the insights she brought.)
I'll leave it there as I don't mean to tear down a book that's not horrible, just not great. Possibly my disappointment is greater than most because I came up with high expectations and this just wasn't credible for me. As other reviewers noted, it's not a bad beach read, but not literature and not Oprah-caliber. (Sorry for any typos--please don't review my review lol.)
When I turned my eBook to page one, I said aloud “HELLO, BEAUTIFUL!”
I knew from page one that I was in for a good time what I did not know was how much I’d enjoy this book and the process of reading it and I certainly didn’t know I had found a new favorite author.
In Hello Beautiful we start with William. William was born to a family suffering a great loss. And even in the first few pages with William, we come to know him in all that he isn’t instead of what he is. It’s an interesting way to construct a character.
In the next chapter, we meet Julia and all that she is and all that she has. She is a lot, has a lot. Specifically, things that William does not. She has a close, loving family, and she has a plan and the will to carry it out.
William and Julia meet in college and begin a wonderful life together. We follow over the years as eventually, William's past comes to light and the very thing that drew them together threatens to tear them apart.
I read this one towards the end of 2022 and had to hold onto this review for over six months. It was torture. It was one of the best books I read last year, and I can’t wait for you to read it. It would make a great book club selection as there would be a lot to discuss. I imagine readers on opposing sides of imaginary lines, arguing their point. And they would both be right. That is the beauty of this book.
Let’s talk about what I especially liked about it.
The first thing I loved and noticed was the sentence structure. There is a pattern to the structure that creates a rhythm that increases reading enjoyment. Essentially it is very easy to read.
The second thing I loved is what I noted previously. I loved how William was constructed as a character. His pages felt vacuous. As if I were leaving a part of myself there with him on every page. There is a scene early on when William is describing a moment with a professor. That passage is so telling of William and his lens for seeing his world and interacting with it.
The third thing I loved was the number of emotions that were stirred within me. I don’t remember the last time I was angry with a fictional character. It’s been six months and I still disagree with some of the characters' choices.
Although this was a five-star read for me I do want to note how critical the writing is. These characters are beautifully imperfect, and the narrative, no matter the character, was severe in correction. This can lead to a lack of empathy toward the characters and their situation. It didn’t affect me much, but I think readers should be aware of that going in.
HELLO BEAUTIFUL comes out on March 14, 2023, and I highly recommend it.
Now an Oprah Book Club pick for March 2023
Thanks to Random House Publishing Group - Random House, The Dial Press for the advanced copy!
A main theme of the book is that even when we choose things, sometimes, it’s not a choice at all. Life can be predestined in our heart - we don’t choose who we fall in love with, we don’t choose our family.
Hello Beautiful is just that - a beautiful but heartbreaking family saga that travels through the decades and stages of life. Bring the tissues.
Personally, I found the characters to be flat and the dialogue predictable. The storylines were familiar.
Each of the characters followed a familiar line of shallow development.
Even the "let's wrap this book up" ending was laid out with out fanfare.
I kept waiting for the "wow factor," or the "I didn't see that coming," but it never developed; nothing like that occurred.
For me, every aspect of the book was flat.
The hype around this book alludes me. I cannot figure it out.
"Oprah, you're not making sense to me this time."