Sunday, November 19, 2023

“Hello Beautiful” by Ann Napolitano reviewed by Sarah Corrigan

The book Hello Beautiful could be a manual that explains the old adage, "Man plans, and God laughs." 

We see the characters throughout the book making ardent plans for their future and imagining how wonderful life will be when it happens. But, as we all know, things only sometimes happen as planned. We see how their plans, choices, and decisions result in consequences – some foreseen and others not – that they must live with and how they find ways to carry on either way. 

Hello Beautiful is also a textbook example of how complicated families and relationships can be, even amongst the closest and well-intended people.

The characters are all richly developed. So much so that it is easy to visualize the four sisters as parallel characters to the long-favored girls in Little Women. The four girls in Hello Beautiful, though raised in the same home with the same parents, become adults with unique personalities and motivations who are entirely different from one another. 

Their uniqueness is further emphasized by the mother's disappointment when the girls do not follow the life path she wanted for them. The author certainly had me (as I'm sure she planned to) annoyed with the mother's reactions at all stages of the book. So blinded by what she wanted, she cannot see that they all became independent, which, to me, was the heart of her desire for her daughters.

The book also pays homage to the Isaac Newton's law: “For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Through many of the characters reactions to events, the author demonstrates how it’s not just life plans, but people's reactions that often are much different than we anticipate, which often leads to further roadblocks. A good reminder that all we can ever control is our own reactions.

From a plot structure perspective, I really enjoyed how the author hinged many plot twists on life and death: when William is born – Caroline dies; when Izzy is born – Rose leaves; when Alice is born – William almost dies; when Sylvie dies – the family is reunited. Even the "dead" professor, whom William sits beside on the bench before he attempts suicide, is a key small part and unique character in the story.

Of course, the book was on the dark side, but the themes of depression and mental health (amongst others) are serious topics. Reading how others cope with various issues is why we read any story.

I thought Hello Beautiful was an excellent book that I would rate 4.5 out of 5.


Sarah Corrigan retired from a career in technology and now spends her time exploring the art of creative writing. She is an avid cyclist, book lover, and globe trotter. She lives in beautiful Collingwood with her partner Dave. 


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