It’s been quite a year for novelist Ann Napolitano. Dear Edward, the writer’s 2020 best-selling novel about the lone survivor of a plane crash, was turned into a successful series on Apple TV+. And now, none other than Oprah Winfrey has chosen Napolitano’s latest book, Hello Beautiful, as her 100th book club selection.
Hello Beautiful is a touching, carefully woven story about the four Padavano sisters from Chicago. But it’s also the story of William Waters, a man who marries into the family, bringing with him hefty emotional baggage that he isn’t capable of unpacking.
Napolitano says she’s been fascinated with large families since her middle school years. Growing up in North Jersey, her best friend’s mom had an enormous extended family that included five sisters. Napolitano said she was eager to see if she could write about that dynamic, bringing it to life on the page in the way she’d often seen it play out.
Her books went unpublished for years, and she was turned down by agents before she found success with Dear Edward.
Napolitano’s extended family is also large. She credits her mother’s brother with the book’s title.
All of her mother’s siblings lived in New Jersey. But her Uncle Ed moved to Chicago and frequently sent her postcards of landmarks there, always opening them, “Hello Beautiful.” These postcards were meaningful to a shy, bookish child.
“I knew he didn’t really know what I looked like because he hardly ever saw me, but they made me feel very special because I felt like he was seeing the beauty that was inside me,” she says.
Hello Beautiful (Dial Press, March 14) will tug on your heartstrings as you navigate the precious bonds of sisterhood and more. But pace yourself as you follow the sisters on their journeys. Don’t rush toward the end, because when you get there, you’ll be aching for more of the Padavano sisters.
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