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I share something with Oprah: "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn."

‘Hi, This Is Oprah Winfrey. I Read Your Novel and Loved It So Much.’

Ann Napolitano (pictured) toiled in obscurity for years. Novels went unpublished; agents turned her down. She found recognition with “Dear Edward.” Then came the call: “Hello Beautiful” was the 100th pick for what is arguably the most influential book club in the world.

Maybe it was fate, maybe it was the meddling of a higher power with a wicked sense of humor. Either way, Ann Napolitano was taking out the garbage when Oprah Winfrey called to tell her that her novel, “Hello Beautiful,” is the 100th selection for what is arguably the most influential book club in the world.

Napolitano was so afraid of losing the connection that she stood stock-still in the tiny vestibule of her Park Slope apartment building, clutching her bag of trash, for the duration of the 27-minute call.

To be clear, we’re talking about Oprah’s Book Club — the O.G. reading group, trusty launching pad to the best-seller list and sourdough starter for dozens of iterations, celebrity sponsored and otherwise. Yes, Booktok is nipping at Winfrey’s heels, especially where young readers are concerned, but her endorsement is still a golden ticket.

Napolitano started “Hello Beautiful” in April 2020, the loneliest chapter of the pandemic, a time of fear and isolation. It was also the month her father died.

“We weren’t able to see him when he was dying and we weren’t able to gather, like so many people,” Napolitano said. “I was trying to find connection and love, and I needed that house with those loud sisters. It really did feel like I needed this book.”

Winfrey echoed a version of the same sentiment. “I felt less alone because of books during that period of being isolated,” she said, describing how, “as a girl growing up in Mississippi and Milwaukee, all the times I felt so removed and not valued, it was books — ‘A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,’ in particular — that made me feel that I was connected to the world.”

She went on, “And so, in the beginning was the word. The power of the word to help transform our own emotions and our own belief in what’s possible for us? I don’t think anything transcends that.”

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