Historical Fiction Reviews

ALC Book Review | We Came Here to Shine – Susie Orman Schnall

June 15, 2020
we came here to shine book by the_afterword and Jess Pierron

It’s 1939 and the World’s Fair has made it’s way to Manhattan. We Came Here to Shine focuses on the lives of two progressive women just trying to make their claim in a male-dominated world. The readers meet Vivi, a sweet, aspiring actress, and Max, a bull-headed student journalistThis is a lovely story about friendship, love, and the power of a woman’s voice.

We Came Here to Shine was a wonderful audiobook. I have always been a fan of historical fiction however it was quite refreshing to find a story that wasn’t centered around the war occurring during this time period.

We meet Vivi Holden, a young LA actress who is shipped off to NYC by her producer to fill the lead swimming and dancing role in Billy Rose’s Aquacade during the 1939 World’s Fair. Vivi fears the producers and mangers she’s left behind in LA will, in turn, leave her acting career behind. 

We also meet Maxine Roth, a young NYU student who has wanted nothing more than to be a journalist for the New York Times. Max is given the opportunity (albeit she sees it as a punishment) to work for Today at the Fair, writing “The Official Daily Program of the New York World’s Fair 1939.” 

The readers are guided through a budding story of these two trailblazing women as they navigate their own lives and learn to lean on each other. Their stories beautifully showcase the challenges women faced in the workforce during the 1930s.

Susie Orman Schnall did a lovely job in her research for this book. I enjoyed her Historical Notes at the end almost as much as I enjoyed the book itself! Her detailed descriptions and delightful imagery of the 1939 World’s Fair were fantastic. I felt the roar of the crowd at the Fair and smelt the flavors of cotton candy.

I do feel there were some plot points that did not necessarily enhance the character or plot development, making the book slightly longer than needed however, it was absolutely a job well done and a wonderful read. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and is looking for something that is not centered around war.

Susie Orman Schnall also did a lovely job as narrator for this audiobook, as well as Carly Robins, Dan Bittner, and Lauren Fortgang. Thank you, Susie Orman Schnall and Macmillian Audio for this gifted copy.

PUB DATE: June 16, 2020

Max held up her drink. “A toast,” she said to Vivi. Vivi lifted her glass and smiled. “To two modern working girls, toiling away at the Fair for the summer, planting the seeds of our ambition that will bloom into the careers of our dreams.” Vivi clinked her glass against Max’s.

We Came Here to Shine | Susie Orman Schnall

PUBLICATION DETAILS: St. Martin’s Griffin; June 16, 2020; 384 pages; Historical Fiction

AUDIOBOOK DETAILS: Macmillian Audio; June 16, 2020; 9 hr, 43 min

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