Monday 23 January 2023

We Came Here to Shine

Finished January 21
We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall

This novel takes place in the summer of 1939 during the World's Fair and follows two young women. Vivi is an actress who is signed on contract to WorldWide Films, a Hollywood studio. She is supposed to be starting her first starring role when she is told that instead she will be on loan to the producers of the Aquacade, a swimming entertainment show happening at the World's Fair in New York. She will be replacing their lead female who was recently injured. Vivi is originally from New York, but left after a rift with her family. She is disappointed, and even more surprised when she finds how little time she has to learn her routine. Dealing with a mixture of reactions from the rest of the cast, she tries her best to find her feet while also finding that the past will come back in a big way. 
Maxine (Max) Roth is a journalism student at NYU who has high hopes for her summer placement at the end of her junior year. She's received high marks on all her articles and hopes that she will get the position at the New York Times. Instead she gets a spot at Today at the Fair, a daily newspaper that is run from and covers the World's Fair. Not only that, but her classmate Charlie, also at Today at the Fair, will be the one writing all the articles as the man in charge doesn't believe women belong in journalism. Max will be writing the event list for each day instead. Max hopes to win a contest over the summer, but she needs an article to enter it. 
As Max fights for her right to write, and Vivi throws herself into practice, they've each been keeping their head down, focusing on their work. On an evening when both take a break to experience the fair, they run into each other and find themselves becoming fast friends despite their differences. 
There is a lot of research that went into this story to give a sense of the Fair and its going ons, and the author used a lot of this historical information to make the story come alive. The two young women are both ambitious in their own way, and both learn what truly drives them during this time. The author brings in issues of patriarchy, harassment, and social mores as well. 
An enjoyable read that also enlightened me about a historical event I knew little about. 

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