“Hello Beautiful” by Ann Napolitano

Review by Amy Atzert, collection development librarian

William Waters never really felt like he had a family. His baby sister Caroline only lived for six days and after she died, his parents seemed to forget they had another child. He had food and a roof over his head but not much else. The way he saw it, they only had one child and he was not it. As he grew up, he never felt quite comfortable in his own skin. He battled consistent unease. He didn’t feel like he knew who he was or what he liked or who he would become.

The only exception to that is basketball. He knows the game. He loves the game. He is good enough to earn a basketball scholarship to college. There he meets the self-assured Julia Padavano. She sets her sights on the handsome, reserved William and he hasn’t a chance. She precedes to plan out their entire lives together. Which is perfectly fine with William since he has trouble making even the simplest of decisions. Before too long they are married with a baby on the way.

Julia has a boisterous, loving, big family. Her three sisters, and parents are extremely close. William finally feels like he is part of a real family. As William’s life gets more complicated with a new wife and baby on the way, he begins to feel the all too familiar unsteadiness begin to creep in. The nagging darkness he fears will overtake him again. How can he possibly explain this to Julia and her family? He can’t. There is no way he can hurt the family he has grown to love and especially not the baby on the way. He must get away from everyone before he causes them harm.

A deep family drama filled with both pain and light. It examines the love of family, but the sacrifices you sometimes need to make to put yourself first. The characters are well-developed. There are a lot of them, but I never struggled to remember who was who like I sometimes do. The author made them stand out to me. A beautiful, complicated surprise love affair is tucked within the pages. The power of redemption, the hope of healing, and starting over are big themes. So very good!