We Came Here to Shine
At the iconic 1939 New York World’s Fair, two ambitious young women—a down-on-her-luck actress and an aspiring journalist—form an unlikely friendship as they navigate a world of possibility and find out what they are truly made of during a glorious summer of spectacle and potential…Gorgeous Vivi is about to begin filming her first starring role in a Hollywood picture when the studio head ships her off to New York as a favor to a friend. She’s assigned the leading role in the heralded Aquacade synchronized swimming spectacular at the World’s Fair, a fate she believes will destroy her film career. If she performs well, she’ll have another chance at stardom, but with everything working against her, will her summer lead to opportunity or failure?Plucky Max dreams of becoming a serious journalist, but when her job at the New York Times doesn’t pan out, she finds herself begrudgingly working for the daily paper of the World’s Fair. As her ideas are continually overlooked by her male counterparts and her career prospects are put in jeopardy, Max must risk everything to change the course of her life.When Max and Vivi’s worlds collide, they forge an enduring friendship. One that teaches them to go after what matters most during the most meaningful summer of their lives.

We Came Here to Shine Details

TitleWe Came Here to Shine
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJun 16th, 2020
PublisherSt. Martin's Griffin
ISBN-139781250169785
Rating
GenreHistorical, Historical Fiction, Fiction, New York, Womens Fiction, Chick Lit, Adult Fiction, Audiobook, Literary Fiction, Contemporary

We Came Here to Shine Review

  • Katie B
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 starsIt was refreshing to read a historical fiction book that didn't revolve around a war. The idea behind this one was neat as it combined the 1939 World's Fair in New York, an actress trying to make it big under the Old Hollywood studio system, and a female college student wanting a career in the journalism field but finding out quickly women don't get the same treatment as men. At times the story veered into melodramatic territory but overall I did enjoy this one. Vivi Holden is trying to 3.5 starsIt was refreshing to read a historical fiction book that didn't revolve around a war. The idea behind this one was neat as it combined the 1939 World's Fair in New York, an actress trying to make it big under the Old Hollywood studio system, and a female college student wanting a career in the journalism field but finding out quickly women don't get the same treatment as men. At times the story veered into melodramatic territory but overall I did enjoy this one. Vivi Holden is trying to make it as an actress in Hollywood but in 1939 under the studio system it's not easy being a woman. She is sent by the studio to New York City to perform in the Aquacade synchronized swimming show at the World's Fair. If she performs well, she might finally get the opportunity to be a leading lady on screen.Maxine Roth is a college student studying journalism. She is assigned by her professor to work at a publication dedicated to providing World's Fair coverage. However, Maxine is having a hard time convincing her boss she is a talented writer. He won't let her publish articles as he doesn't think female writers could possible be as good as male writers. Both Vivi and Maxine were solid characters and their stories really showcased the challenges women faced back then in the workforce. I do think there were a few minor plotlines that didn't really enhance the overall story. It almost felt like they were added to stretch the story out. It is an enjoyable read though but I would place it in the light historical fiction category. It's good for a lazy weekend read but there's not much here that's going to stick in your mind long after you finish reading it.I would recommend this book to readers looking for historical fiction that doesn't focus on World War 2 for a change. Also, there's a few references to the Miss Subways contest in this book which I thought was a nice touch by the author given that was the focus of her previous book.I was provided a free advance digital copy of this book by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Fran
    January 1, 1970
    " I hereby dedicate the World's Fair, the New York World's Fair of 1939. And I declare it open to all mankind".-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, April 30, 1939The opening coincided with the 150th anniversary of President George Washington's Inaugural Address."In twenty years, in forty years, when people talk about the World's Fair of thirty-nine...You'll be able to say you were immersed in the fair. That you worked there, that you thrived there...it might even change your life".Vivi Holden w " I hereby dedicate the World's Fair, the New York World's Fair of 1939. And I declare it open to all mankind".-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, April 30, 1939The opening coincided with the 150th anniversary of President George Washington's Inaugural Address."In twenty years, in forty years, when people talk about the World's Fair of thirty-nine...You'll be able to say you were immersed in the fair. That you worked there, that you thrived there...it might even change your life".Vivi Holden was a young actress under contract at Worldwide Films in Hollywood. She thought she had secured her first leading role. Not so fast Vivi! "...screened rehearsal clips for a test audience...you were innocent and sweet...This is a role for a confident woman who is well aware of her womanliness". Studio Head Carl Green: I make the decisions for the actors and actresses who have contracts...Luckily for you, I'm sending you to New York City...Billy Rose's new venture...the Aquacade is Rose's swimming and dancing production that he's staging at the World's Fair in New York City". An immediate replacement was needed to swim opposite Olympian Johnny Weissmuller as part of the synchronized swimming extravaganza. Vivi had fled from New York City. Her sister never wanted to see her again. Would her past catch up with her?Maxine (Max) Roth was a journalism student at NYU. Having just completed her junior year, Professor Lincoln offered summer internships to promising students. Max dreamed of writing for The New York Times. She was determined and resourceful. "She did everything possible to ensure she got the education and experience necessary to land a job writing about what mattered". Max hoped to intern at the Times, a potential springboard to a job after graduation. Instead, she was assigned an internship working alongside fellow student Charlie Hull at the World's Fair. Max and Charlie would write for Today at the Fair-"The Official Daily Program of the New York World's Fair 1939". Charlie was assigned the coveted writing assignments. Max exclaimed, "I noticed I'm not going to have the opportunity to write any articles". Her responsibilities included managing the official daily schedule, special events listings, and managing photo captions.It's a man's world-"Everything in life is arranged to the advantage of men. Life is tough for women".A chance meeting. Vivi and Max's paths cross after listening to a feminist speaker named Elizabeth Dorchester. In alternating chapters, Vivi and Max's triumphs and defeats during the May to October Fair Season come to light. They form an unbreakable friendship sharing their hopes and dreams. Perhaps their original goals and expectations need to be adjusted and modified. They want to openly express their opinions, justify their actions and work toward equal opportunity for women. I loved spending time with two modern, forward thinking women who were determined to shine."We Came Here to Shine" by Susie Orman Schnall is a work of historical fiction reflecting the 1930's role expectations of women. In Vivi's words, "The timing is wrong". Vivi is not ready to be a wife and mother. There's so much she wants to achieve. The detailed description of the World's Fair, especially the synchronized swimming at the Aquacade Amphitheater was magnificent. Olympian Johnny Weissmuller did swim in the inaugural Aquacade. The pool and stage "could be hidden behind a lighted 40-foot (12m) high curtain of water" when not in use. Kudos to Author Orman for a delightful, fascinating read focusing on two determined young women.Thank you St. Martin's Griffin and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Sandra ~ ♥ Cross My Heart ♥
    January 1, 1970
    We Came Here To Shine is the inspiring story of two women who challenged the role and limited expectations of women in the 1930's. Inequality in the workplace was common with all prestigious jobs held by men. Women who dared speak of the disparities were viewed as disgruntled employees and most often dismissed. The title "We Came Here To Shine" says it all . . . Vivi, an aspiring actress, and Max, a journalist intern, are intent on confronting and conquering a misogynistic world to shine brightl We Came Here To Shine is the inspiring story of two women who challenged the role and limited expectations of women in the 1930's. Inequality in the workplace was common with all prestigious jobs held by men. Women who dared speak of the disparities were viewed as disgruntled employees and most often dismissed. The title "We Came Here To Shine" says it all . . . Vivi, an aspiring actress, and Max, a journalist intern, are intent on confronting and conquering a misogynistic world to shine brightly on their own merits. Under circumstances beyond their control, both women find themselves "demoted" to work the 1939 World's Fair in their respective professions for the summer. Both are ambitious, tenacious, and optimistic. Both determined to take control of their own destiny by challenging their designated roles in a male-oriented society. When the two women cross paths, they recognize something in each other and a bond of sisterhood forms. The story that unfolds is told through alternating chapters and points of view as these two women join forces, daring to reach for the stars.Readers are transported back in time to the vibrant 1939 World's Fair in We Came Here To Shine. Schnall's historical details and descriptive passages engage all five senses with all the excitement and anticipation associated with this place and time in history. You can see and feel the sense of awe and wonder on fair-goers faces as they enter this new magical place. The story progresses at a steady pace as readers watch both women persevere and grow stronger in their purpose. The plot line focuses mainly on these two women and their journey to be recognized as equals and reach seemingly unachievable goals. Fans of historical fiction will love We Came Here To Shine. Highly Recommended!3.5 Stars*Special thanks to St. Martins Press for an arc of this book via Netgalley.**Review posted at: Cross My Heart Reviews
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  • Camille Maio
    January 1, 1970
    We Came Here to Shine is an exceptional work of historical fiction, illuminating the challenges of women in a world that wants to control them. There are conflicts and challenges at ever turn, leaving the reader wondering how the characters can emerge from it all. Yet the skillful storytelling of Schnall succeeds at creating an ending that is both surprising and believable. Pick this one up if you enjoy books with friendship, love, struggle, triumph, and a bit of Hollywood in New York.
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  • MicheleReader
    January 1, 1970
    We Came Here to Shine takes us back to 1939. The New York World’s Fair has just begun. Starlet Vivi Holden is about to star in a career- making movie but when it became apparent that she was wrong for the part, the studio sends her to New York City as a favor to producer Billy Rose to star with Johnny Weissmuller in his Aquacade show. She has little choice and tries to make the best of it as the studio promises her that another major starring role will await her once she returns to Los Angeles.M We Came Here to Shine takes us back to 1939. The New York World’s Fair has just begun. Starlet Vivi Holden is about to star in a career- making movie but when it became apparent that she was wrong for the part, the studio sends her to New York City as a favor to producer Billy Rose to star with Johnny Weissmuller in his Aquacade show. She has little choice and tries to make the best of it as the studio promises her that another major starring role will await her once she returns to Los Angeles.Maxine (Max) Roth is a top journalism student at NYU. She misses out on a summer internship working at a prestigious newspaper and is instead sent with a fellow student to work at the Fair’s daily paper. The male student is allowed to write for the paper yet Max is given less challenging tasks believed more suitable for a woman. Max’s fiery personality causes her to speak up and try to change her situation but is unsuccessful. While watching a powerful speech about equal rights for women taking place at the Fair, Vivi and Max meet and strike up a friendship. They realize that their common bond is that they are each being held back by men who hold all the power over them. As the story progresses, they seek to improve their situations. Vivi is being trapped by a restrictive studio system and Max is unable to achieve her goals of writing for the Fair’s paper. I enjoyed the setting and the time period of We Came Here to Shine. The time span of the Fair was an interesting one as the Great Depression was ending and overseas, Germany’s threat had begun. These issues are way in the background with the focus on the two main characters making this a story of friendship, determination and resiliency. An enjoyable escape.Many thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin, Edelweiss and author Susie Orman Schnall for an advance copy. Review posted onMicheleReader.com.
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  • Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
    January 1, 1970
    An actress and a journalist meet at the 1939 World's Fair and drum up some interesting situations.Both women have similar life disappointments and find the common ground of playing second fiddle. Max to a man, and Vivi because she looked too innocent for the part in a Hollywood production.Max lost her hopes of working for The New York Times for the summer to another student. Max was assigned instead to a job as coordinator at the World's Fair and not assigned to any article writing. She realized An actress and a journalist meet at the 1939 World's Fair and drum up some interesting situations.Both women have similar life disappointments and find the common ground of playing second fiddle. Max to a man, and Vivi because she looked too innocent for the part in a Hollywood production.Max lost her hopes of working for The New York Times for the summer to another student. Max was assigned instead to a job as coordinator at the World's Fair and not assigned to any article writing. She realized women were not considered to be as good in the journalistic field as men. Vivi lost her Hollywood position to someone else and was sent to New York to perform at a synchronized swim event. This definitely wasn't her choice of career paths.We learn about both women in alternating chapters as they struggle through what is going on in their lives.Ms. Schnall did a marvelous job of researching and of putting the reader in the characters’ lives as well as the World’s Fair. I enjoyed being at the World's Fair both on the public side and the side of all those involved with making the fair happen.If you need something to satisfy your historical fiction craving and to see how strong women made their way in 1939 in a man’s world, WE CAME HERE TO SHINE will be a lovely treat.You will also be treated to secrets, gossip, lovely characters, a great story line, and the beauty of friendships. 5/5This book was given to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Fiona Davis
    January 1, 1970
    Original, daring - this story was an absolute blast to read. Her mix of fact and fiction is exactly what I'm looking for in a historical fiction novel. Brilliant!
  • Joan Happel
    January 1, 1970
    This is the story of two young woman trying to take control of their own careers and ambitions in the male dominated world of 1939 Hollywood and New York. Vivi Holden dreams of being a Hollywood star, while Maxine "Max" Roth yearns for a career in journalism. Vivi is up for a her first starring role when she is told that the part has been given to someone else and she is being sent to the New York World's Fair to star in the Aquacade Water Show opposite Johnny Weissmuller. Max had hoped for a su This is the story of two young woman trying to take control of their own careers and ambitions in the male dominated world of 1939 Hollywood and New York. Vivi Holden dreams of being a Hollywood star, while Maxine "Max" Roth yearns for a career in journalism. Vivi is up for a her first starring role when she is told that the part has been given to someone else and she is being sent to the New York World's Fair to star in the Aquacade Water Show opposite Johnny Weissmuller. Max had hoped for a summer internship at the New York Times, instead she is sent to the daily World's Fair publication and finds her boss has assigned all of the writing to her male counterpart, while she is tasked with typing up the daily schedule. When these two young women meet, they decide to form a bond to help each other fight against the prejudice and misogyny, and fulfill their dreams.Schnall has created two characters oozing spunk and moxie. Readers will find themselves rooting for their success! Set against the backdrop of the World's Fair this is an engaging and well plotted story to be enjoyed by historical fiction fans and women's fiction fans alike.Thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for the e-ARC.
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  • TL
    January 1, 1970
    I won this via goodreads giveaways, all my opinions are my own:).---This was just an absorbing read. The pages just flew by and it was so easy to get sucked into the lives of these people and feel like you were plopped right there beside them(I say that often, but I can't think of another phrase to better express it. ) . Vivi and Max are vibrant, and sometimes complicated.. each with circumstances that challenge them in different ways and riding the train their paths are on, finding out things a I won this via goodreads giveaways, all my opinions are my own:).---This was just an absorbing read. The pages just flew by and it was so easy to get sucked into the lives of these people and feel like you were plopped right there beside them(I say that often, but I can't think of another phrase to better express it. ) . Vivi and Max are vibrant, and sometimes complicated.. each with circumstances that challenge them in different ways and riding the train their paths are on, finding out things aren't as smooth sailing.The side characters are just as interesting, and in the case of some.. not what they appear to be at first.I would have loved to see more of the fair, but that's just a tiny nitpick :). Max was braver than me though, trying a certain attraction that would have had me sitting on the side, babysitting everyone's purses and whatnot (view spoiler)[fear of heights... Parachute jump ride sounds exciting I suppose but most likely I would have been throwing up at some point (hide spoiler)]It was a setting used that I haven't seen much in historical fiction as of yet (feel free to send any recs my way) so it felt fresh to me and the glimpses we did get were electric and authentic.The story feels bigger than the page count.. if that makes sense. It was bursting at the seems with everything contained and I was amazed at what the author accomplished with the page count. Not a word was wasted. It felt loose and casual but also sturdy/compact as well.For one person, I do understand his position but I still think he could have stood up for himself and someone else better. Little too much pride and a bit of some insecurity methinks. As for one, certain book events happened and I did a little happy dance but most of his downfall happened off screen. It would have been out of place but the petty part of me would have loved to see his butt kicked to the curb in front of a crowd. #sorrynotsorryThe way the book ended, I could see room for more stories about Vivi, Max, James, Dean, Charlie, Sofia, Maria, and Marianne (and even Ruby). I would love to see where everyone's paths take them from here (especially where a few things left off).Would highly recommend, a true pleasure to read.
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  • Toni
    January 1, 1970
    The Great Depression was ending and for those of us in the USA, war was just a story in the newspapers we did not want to read or talk about. Besides, something big was happening on both coasts. Hollywood was having one of its best years of film making in 1939; so many big hits that it would be remembered as its Golden Year. In New York, the 1939 World’s Fair was about to open at the end of April, with FDR giving the opening speech. The theme was the future and it looked bright with the official The Great Depression was ending and for those of us in the USA, war was just a story in the newspapers we did not want to read or talk about. Besides, something big was happening on both coasts. Hollywood was having one of its best years of film making in 1939; so many big hits that it would be remembered as its Golden Year. In New York, the 1939 World’s Fair was about to open at the end of April, with FDR giving the opening speech. The theme was the future and it looked bright with the official motto as: “Dawn of a New Day.” However, the more popular phrase, “The World of Tomorrow,” which labeled the exhibit and Pavilion areas, gained favor.The story concentrates on two main characters: Maxine (Max) Roth, a young journalism student at NYU, about to be assigned to her summer internship with the rest of her predominantly male, class, which was quite normal for 1939. Over on the west coast in Hollywood, Vivi Holden, a young, new actress is about to begin her first day of filming a hot, new picture, sure to be up for many awards, when word comes down from studio heads that they’ve replaced her with someone else. Someone with more experience, someone more, ‘womanly,’ someone more believable in this role. Vivi is speechless and gobsmacked!Max’s main rival in class gets assigned to the NY Times, she gets assigned to cover the World’s Fair for its own newspaper, “The Fair Today” a daily publication covering the goings-on at the Fair.Vivi was offered a position to replace the star, Eleanor Holm, and swim with Johnny Weissmueller at the Fair’s Aquacade. What Vivi did not know at the time was how elaborate and popular this show was. The specially built amphitheater sat 10,000 people and involved hundreds of performers. It was a spectacular musical and water extravaganza with its own orchestra. It became the model for all those fantastic Hollywood movies involving swimming, think Esther Williams. (Sorry, I love this!)So, back to our novel. Max does a marvelous job on the Fair’s paper, so much so, she turns up some juicy reporting as an amateur investigative reporter, benefiting the Fair. Overall, she impresses the Fair’s management, her teacher at NYU and her classmates.Vivi is the true professional and good sport helping the show, Max and her sister (you’ll see) all in one summer.Combined with history, a World’s Fair, and great storytelling you cannot miss the entertainment value of the book. I adored it and recommend it.Note: Some of the buildings from the 1939 Fair were saved and used for the NY 1964-5 Fair, held at the same exact location: Flushing Meadows, Queens, NY. I knew some things looked familiar! Especially the life-size globe in the center!Susie also wrote The Subway GirlsThank you Netgalley, St. Martin’s Griffin, and Susie Orman Schnall
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  • Jodie
    January 1, 1970
    We Came Here to Shine is an interesting story of historical fiction. Set primarily at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, it is the story of two women - Vivi, a young aspiring actress, and Max the ambitious journalism student. The story exemplifies the inequality that women faced at this point in history and, to some extent, today.The story begins with Vivi in Hollywood as a contract actress working for Worldwide Pictures. She learns she has not been selected for the role in which she has auditio We Came Here to Shine is an interesting story of historical fiction. Set primarily at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, it is the story of two women - Vivi, a young aspiring actress, and Max the ambitious journalism student. The story exemplifies the inequality that women faced at this point in history and, to some extent, today.The story begins with Vivi in Hollywood as a contract actress working for Worldwide Pictures. She learns she has not been selected for the role in which she has auditioned but rather has been chosen to star in the aquatic show at the World’s Fair in New York. Vivi is not happy, but is told that if she successfully performs in the show until the Fall’s conclusion of the fair, she will return to Hollywood and receive a starring role. Feeling she doesn’t have a choice, Vivi decides to make the best of it.Max is a NYU student who is hopeful that she will be selected to intern at a major newspaper during the summer. Instead, she is told that she and another student, Charlie, will be spending the summer writing for the daily paper of the fair. Unfortunately, the leaders of this paper are clearly misogynist - Charlie is given the task of writing articles, while Max is relegated to the task of preparing the daily schedule of events. When Vivi and Max’s lives cross paths and join forces their lives begin to change. Each of the women has supportive men in their lives which tempers the battles each woman faces. Will each woman find what they are looking for by the end of the fair?The author has done an incredible amount of research into bringing historical facts into this piece of fiction. The characters are believable, and likeable. The story is engaging and reminds me of my time at Expo ’86. I applaud the author with including an important female activist into this book. I listened to the audiobook version of the book, performed by Carly Robins, Lauren Fortgang and Dan Bittner . The narrators all do a fantastic job of providing these characters with a voice. I particularly enjoyed Dan Bittner who does a fantastic job of announcing “Today at the Fair” in a voice typical of 1939. I enjoyed this entertaining read and recommend it to fans of historical fiction.
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  • Myrna
    January 1, 1970
    I love reading historical fiction. We Came Here to Shine kept me interested because it was based in the 1939 New York World's Fair. The entertaining story moved along nicely and I enjoyed learning about the Fair. The characterization focused on strong women in a male dominated world which was nice to see. I'm sad the ending had some events that weren’t plausible for the era. All in all, still very enjoyable pleasant read.
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  • Jessica Haider
    January 1, 1970
    We Came Here to Shine is historical fiction set in the summer of 1939. The World's Fair is in NYC and it is there that two young women are going to meet and strike up a friendship. Vivi is an actress under contract with a studio in Hollywood and is upset when her studio drops her from a movie and instead sends her to NY to star in a water dance show at the World's Fair. Max is a journalism student who dreams of a summer internship at the New York Times but instead is assigned to work at the dail We Came Here to Shine is historical fiction set in the summer of 1939. The World's Fair is in NYC and it is there that two young women are going to meet and strike up a friendship. Vivi is an actress under contract with a studio in Hollywood and is upset when her studio drops her from a movie and instead sends her to NY to star in a water dance show at the World's Fair. Max is a journalism student who dreams of a summer internship at the New York Times but instead is assigned to work at the daily paper of the World's Fair. These are two different women but they are drawn together to do MORE with their lives...to pursue their dreams and achieve happiness. They both want to break out of the role that they have been assigned by their male bosses. I enjoyed this book. It was a nice, light historical fiction read. Nothing too dark or upsetting happened. You can't help but root for these women even though we know sitting in 2020 that women still have a way to go from 1939 to have better experiences pursuing careers. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction but wants something lighter and more uplifting. I received a review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Cindy Burnett
    January 1, 1970
    Against the backdrop of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, two women summon up the courage to pursue their dreams and forge an unexpected friendship as a result. Vivi Holden longs to be a well-known actress and first must perform successfully as the headliner for the Aquacade, the synchronized swimming extravaganza at the World’s Fair. Max wants to be a journalist for the New York Times and must demonstrate her value by covering the fair for its pop-up publication. Schnall expertly intersperses det Against the backdrop of the 1939 New York World’s Fair, two women summon up the courage to pursue their dreams and forge an unexpected friendship as a result. Vivi Holden longs to be a well-known actress and first must perform successfully as the headliner for the Aquacade, the synchronized swimming extravaganza at the World’s Fair. Max wants to be a journalist for the New York Times and must demonstrate her value by covering the fair for its pop-up publication. Schnall expertly intersperses details from the actual World’s Fair and includes a gorgeous (and helpful) map of the fair at the front. Steeped in the spectacle and hoopla of the New York World’s Fair, We Came Here to Shine is a story about courage, friendship and having the strength and will to achieve one’s goals. Once I started this one, I could not put it down, and I reveled in Schnall’s vivid recreations of the fair; she made me feel like I was there.For more reviews, check out my Instagram account: https://www.instagram.com/thoughtsfro... and my newsletter: https://www.cfapage.net/subscribe.
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  • Jennifer S. Brown
    January 1, 1970
    At the end of the Depression, Maxine Roth is striving for a scholarship to finish her education at NYU so she can fulfil her dreams of becoming a journalist at The New York Times. Vivi Holden, an exquisite beauty under contract at WorldWide Films, is about to make her debut as a leading lady in Hollywood. Yet life intervenes for both of them, and instead they are consigned to working at the 1939 World Fair in New York where Max is relegated to typing listings at Today at the Fair and Vivi is to At the end of the Depression, Maxine Roth is striving for a scholarship to finish her education at NYU so she can fulfil her dreams of becoming a journalist at The New York Times. Vivi Holden, an exquisite beauty under contract at WorldWide Films, is about to make her debut as a leading lady in Hollywood. Yet life intervenes for both of them, and instead they are consigned to working at the 1939 World Fair in New York where Max is relegated to typing listings at Today at the Fair and Vivi is to star in the Aquacade synchronized swimming show. At the Fair, Max and Vivi form an unlikely friendship, as they strive to make their way in a world where men make the rules. As in The Subway Girls, the story focuses on the women and their ambitions, and while love interests factor in, the novel is about what women have to overcome in the sexist world of the not-so-distant past.Part of the magic of this novel is the thrilling backdrop of the Fair, which is described in such vivid detail that it’s easy to picture, and the exhibition becomes a character, making the novel even richer. I truly appreciated the surprising turns the story took. Fans of Beatriz Williams and Taylor Jenkins Reid will devour this book.
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  • Melissa
    January 1, 1970
    I have enjoyed Susie Orman Schnall's novels, but We Came Here to Shine: A Novel is definitely my favorite of all the ones she has written so far. This was such a delightful story! It made me think of The Bold Type, if the television series had taken place in 1939. (Max also reminded me of Annie from Shrill.) Vivi and Max were both sympathetic and relatable characters. I wanted to see them both succeed and was frustrated by the setbacks they experienced, especially on Max's end. I was so worried I have enjoyed Susie Orman Schnall's novels, but We Came Here to Shine: A Novel is definitely my favorite of all the ones she has written so far. This was such a delightful story! It made me think of The Bold Type, if the television series had taken place in 1939. (Max also reminded me of Annie from Shrill.) Vivi and Max were both sympathetic and relatable characters. I wanted to see them both succeed and was frustrated by the setbacks they experienced, especially on Max's end. I was so worried for what would come of their situations. I loved the friendship they formed. I really enjoyed this novel and couldn't put it down. I just had to find out what would happen. I recently saw the movie Judy during the time I was reading it and found it interesting to see what it was like for actresses in that time period, such as how men behaved around them and treated them. I liked how Susie tied in something from one of her previous novels, as well. The historical facts about and imagery of the 1939 World's Fair were fascinating!I definitely recommend We Came Here to Shine, especially to fans of Susan Meissner's novels.Movie casting suggestions:Vivi: Caylee CowanMax: Joey KingGabe: Peyton MeyerDean: Finn WittrockJames: K.J. ApaCharlie: Chandler RiggsRuby: Bella Thorne
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  • Elise Hooper
    January 1, 1970
    At its heart, WE CAME HERE TO SHINE pulses with tenacity, ambition, and friendship as two enterprising women find their paths to the future through the power of sisterhood. This wonderful story glows with colorful historical details and delivers a behind-the-scenes ticket to the wonders and woes of New York’s 1939 World’s Fair.
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  • Karen R
    January 1, 1970
    This story comes alive in the early pages as two ambitious and modern young women are introduced. Max is a struggling journalist. Vivi is a young actress turned down for a prized role in Hollywood. They are living in a man’s world with hurdles to climb in fulfilling their dream jobs.Vivi is an actress who’s producer sends her packing to New York for several months to work at the 1939 World’s Fair with a promise that on her return, she will be given a lead role. She seethes and fears that she is This story comes alive in the early pages as two ambitious and modern young women are introduced. Max is a struggling journalist. Vivi is a young actress turned down for a prized role in Hollywood. They are living in a man’s world with hurdles to climb in fulfilling their dream jobs.Vivi is an actress who’s producer sends her packing to New York for several months to work at the 1939 World’s Fair with a promise that on her return, she will be given a lead role. She seethes and fears that she is being dismissed, that her acting career will fizzle if she leaves Hollywood for NYC. Vivi is completely unaware that she has just been handed a golden opportunity. Max is a struggling journalist with her dream job to be hired writing stories for the New York Post. Her life will also take an unexpected turn as she ends up with a much more mundane job, writing the World’s Fair daily events pages. Vivi and Max meet and become fast friends.Enter the exciting backdrop of the 1939 World’s Fair, an architectural wonder who drew an estimated 44 million people and was only open for two seasons. Here, Vivi becomes a performer in the Aquacade dance and swimming show, the main attraction of the fair. This arena holds an audience of ten thousand people. Not at all what she expected and incredibly hard work, even for a strong swimmer like herself.Orman Schnall brings this magnificent fair to life through the eyes of two trailblazing, strong women. I felt the magic and heard the roar of the crowds.A remarkable piece of historical fiction and a joy to read. Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for this ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Amy
    January 1, 1970
    When I’m in the mood for historical fiction I tend to gravitate towards books set in the 1930’s/1940’s and most of the time they’re set around World War Two, so it was refreshing to read one that had nothing to do with the war. Instead, this one is set during The World’s Fair and follows two larger than life women, Vivi and Max over the course of one summer. These two were both strong and determined women who were ahead of their time, I loved their blossoming friendship and insight into their st When I’m in the mood for historical fiction I tend to gravitate towards books set in the 1930’s/1940’s and most of the time they’re set around World War Two, so it was refreshing to read one that had nothing to do with the war. Instead, this one is set during The World’s Fair and follows two larger than life women, Vivi and Max over the course of one summer. These two were both strong and determined women who were ahead of their time, I loved their blossoming friendship and insight into their struggles as women trying to chase their dreams.I listened to this on audio and highly recommend it, the narration was fantastic. There are three different actors, both for Vivi and Max and then the third reads newspaper articles and has the best old timey radio newscaster voice. There’s also a great interview between the author and the cast at the end and I ended up down a rabbit hole on YouTube watching the Aquacade from 1939, I was interested! This was an uplifting and hapoy HF book, perfect for summer
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  • Online Eccentric Librarian
    January 1, 1970
    More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ A few years ago, I had an opportunity to read, "Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World's Fair on the Brink of War" by James Mauro. That book gave an excellent perspective on the people behind the fair and the atmosphere at the time. So when I saw this title, I was looking forward to a fictional tale of being at the fair. And while the book is not terrible by any means, I never g More reviews (and no fluff) on the blog http://surrealtalvi.wordpress.com/ A few years ago, I had an opportunity to read, "Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World's Fair on the Brink of War" by James Mauro. That book gave an excellent perspective on the people behind the fair and the atmosphere at the time. So when I saw this title, I was looking forward to a fictional tale of being at the fair. And while the book is not terrible by any means, I never got a feel for the fair, the women, or even the time of 1939. The writing was extremely simplistic and like the story and characters, greatly missing nuance or sophistication. Story: Vivi has a great contract in Hollywood at one of the prestigious studios. Maxine is graduating from journalism school and looking forward to writing insightful articles at the NY Times. But both are disappointed - Maxine is instead assigned to the World's Fair paper and Vivi's star maker role is given to someone else and she is contractually required to do the Aquacade show at the Worlds Fair all the way in NY. Both keenly feel the demotion but also try to better their situations in their own way.The book alternates POVs of both women. An odd writing choice was to have the exact same situation happen to each at the same time. E.g., both at the same time get a disappointment as their first choice goal is taken away and they are dumped in the fair. Both have bad breakups at the same time. Both get career opportunities at the same time. The result of this parallel storytelling is that it was hard at times to differentiate the two. We are told, but not really shown, that one is passionate and aggressive while the other is more reserved and less aggressive. But honestly, if you had exchanged the names in the books, you wouldn't have noticed the difference.The plotting is very small-story: both Max and Vivi spend most of the time fighting men who want to control/use them while they try to find their own way. Max is denied the chance to write articles and instead has to compile the daily Fair program (she is told that girls are better at that type of thing and that every time a girl tries to write something, it's terrible). Vivi spurns the advances of the studio head/casting couch and so as punishment finds herself doing a mediocre fair show instead of starring in the next big movie. Both have a love interest and male antagonist. They meet half way through the book at a rally by a women's rights activist at the fair.There are two huge missing characters from the book. First - the 1939 NY World's Fair. Most of the time the women are either ignoring the entire thing or just passing through, too busy to be impressed by the spectacle. Even when people/friends/colleagues try to impress on them to enjoy it as long as they are there, they continually decide their are too busy to really explore it. We do get scenes where they eat something special at this pavilion or have dinner at that exhibit. Vivi also gives us a great perspective on the Aquacade and why it was so successful (among a fair that was very financially unsuccessful). But I kept wishing for scenes where one or both would explore the fair and its grounds more. The other missing character was milieu - America on the cusp of World War. The book felt more like it was set in the 1920s than the 1940s - there was nothing in there that gave me a sense of time and place. The women's stories were microfocused on their own trials and tribulations with the men in power around them. It meant that the story takes place in a bubble independent of the world around them. So many unique aspects of the era - how they would dress in the morning, walking around on heels, what they wore in their hair/hats or how they dealt with life in the 1940s and its challenges - all missing.The above aside, the biggest frustration was the writing. It was very "she did that, she did this, she walked by that, he said this." The writing was very straight-forward, making for a rather bland read. There were no highs and lows in the emotions, the location, or the people. It made both women seem simplistic as a result. That isn't to say there were writing errors - just that the story lacked the depth I look for when reading a book. This #metoo generation does for the 1939 NY Worlds Fair what Elvis did for the 1962 Seattle World's Fair in the movie "It happened At The Fair" - the milieu and event is completely wasted. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.
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  • Tiffany Foskey
    January 1, 1970
    Wow it is so nice to read a historical fiction book that is NOT about the war or any affiliation with it. I have loved Susie Orman Schnall's previous books and this one in my opinion is another best seller!!!!!!!!! Her style of writing truly makes you fall in love with the character's and I absolutely love the narrative perspective she added little tidbits of into this story. We have Max & Vivi, two young women living in the 1930's trying to make it in a man's world. Both of them in their differ Wow it is so nice to read a historical fiction book that is NOT about the war or any affiliation with it. I have loved Susie Orman Schnall's previous books and this one in my opinion is another best seller!!!!!!!!! Her style of writing truly makes you fall in love with the character's and I absolutely love the narrative perspective she added little tidbits of into this story. We have Max & Vivi, two young women living in the 1930's trying to make it in a man's world. Both of them in their different careers feeling the impact that being a man had bck in those days. We follow them along in their career journey as they show that they have what it takes and stick it to the men in their careers who they to hold them back. Thank you to Netgalley and St. Martin's Griffith for my honest review
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  • Sydney Long
    January 1, 1970
    What a great read! This book is captivating from start to finish! The setting is 1939 at the Worlds Fair in Queens, NY. Max and Vivi are two very different girls whose worlds collide at the fair. Max is an aspiring journalist trying to gain both experience and bylines at the fairs daily dispatch. Vivi is an actress banished from Hollywood to Star in an Aquacade Show. Each girl is determined to make something of and assert themselves at a time when women’s role in society is still the cliche hous What a great read! This book is captivating from start to finish! The setting is 1939 at the Worlds Fair in Queens, NY. Max and Vivi are two very different girls whose worlds collide at the fair. Max is an aspiring journalist trying to gain both experience and bylines at the fairs daily dispatch. Vivi is an actress banished from Hollywood to Star in an Aquacade Show. Each girl is determined to make something of and assert themselves at a time when women’s role in society is still the cliche housewife. Together they learn and grow over a summer of self discovery and challenges.This book is a real page turner and I could have easily read in a day if life and work didn’t get in the way. It’s easy to fall in love with Max & Vivi and their aspirations. They learn to be strong and stand up for themselves in the most unexpected ways. I love how the author details the World’s Fair! I actually found myself googling it to learn more. I would love to see a sequel to this book. I’d love to see where the girls are 10 years later and on the other side of WWII.Thank you so much to NetGalley and St Martins Griffin for the advanced copy. It was a pleasure to read!
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  • Kristi
    January 1, 1970
    We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall is an exceptional story about two young women discovering a powerful friendship and the obstacles they both overcome to succeed. It’s 1939 New York and Max, a journalist down-graded to writing fair ads because she’s a woman and Vivi, a hapless actress sent to perform in the World’s Fair aquacade show meet and develop a friendship that is empowering and supportive. The story is one that resonates; a series of unfortunate events and the misogynism of th We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall is an exceptional story about two young women discovering a powerful friendship and the obstacles they both overcome to succeed. It’s 1939 New York and Max, a journalist down-graded to writing fair ads because she’s a woman and Vivi, a hapless actress sent to perform in the World’s Fair aquacade show meet and develop a friendship that is empowering and supportive. The story is one that resonates; a series of unfortunate events and the misogynism of the time leads both young women to improve their circumstances while working around the hindrances put in their way. Each girl’s personality compliments the others and they balance each other out in the best of ways. This is a friendship I thoroughly enjoyed and the historical element is one that I find fascinating.A big thank you to NetGalley, St. Martins Press, and Susie Orman Schnall for providing me with a copy of We Came Here to Shine in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Darla
    January 1, 1970
    "The fair had a way of touching everyone who passed through its gates."The New York World's Fair of 1939 is the centerpiece of this new title from Susie Orman Schnall. Her previous book, "The Subway Girls," was one of my favorite reads of 2018. This one was a lovely read and the friendship of Vivi with her Hollywood woes and Max with her journalism ambitions provides some really great plot potential. Having Max work in the office for the fair newspaper made a great vehicle for presenting details "The fair had a way of touching everyone who passed through its gates."The New York World's Fair of 1939 is the centerpiece of this new title from Susie Orman Schnall. Her previous book, "The Subway Girls," was one of my favorite reads of 2018. This one was a lovely read and the friendship of Vivi with her Hollywood woes and Max with her journalism ambitions provides some really great plot potential. Having Max work in the office for the fair newspaper made a great vehicle for presenting details about the day-to-day fair happenings. The subway girls contest is mentioned in the new book making it a nice companion read. I also appreciate this slice of world history before we were in the midst of WW II. Cryptic asides directed toward the reader are sprinkled throughout providing enticing bits of foreshadowing. And that cover. So engaging! For me, though, the pacing was off. It seemed like all the peril was clumped into one section of the book. The first half started to drag a bit without those clear conflicts to pull the reader in. It will still be delightful read for your summer vacation. I recommend pairing it with chocolate mint brownie on a lazy summer afternoon.Thank you to St. Martins Press and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Jen
    January 1, 1970
    I love reading books set in this time period. The glitz and glamour are always lovely to imagine. This novel about strong females and friendship was delightful to immerse in. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Subway Girls but it was a fun read nonetheless. Nothing “big” really happens so the plot kind of puttered along. Reading about the Worlds Fair was fun and I enjoyed the facts and behind-the-scenes glimpses. Overall, this was a fun read featuring strong, likable female characters and a unique set I love reading books set in this time period. The glitz and glamour are always lovely to imagine. This novel about strong females and friendship was delightful to immerse in. I didn’t enjoy it as much as Subway Girls but it was a fun read nonetheless. Nothing “big” really happens so the plot kind of puttered along. Reading about the Worlds Fair was fun and I enjoyed the facts and behind-the-scenes glimpses. Overall, this was a fun read featuring strong, likable female characters and a unique setting. 3.5 ⭐️. My thanks to the publisher for the gifted copy in exchange for my honest review.
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  • Erika
    January 1, 1970
    Set at the 1939 World Fair in New York City, a young Hollywood starlet is sent to perform at the Aquacade and a budding journalist is assigned to the fair’s daily newspaper. Neither thought they’d spend their summer at the fair, and yet it is one they will never forget. I loved this glimpse into a glamorous past, and the realities behind it. I found myself cheering for the two women as they learned about feminism and how to use it. The narrator broke the fourth wall a few times to talk directly Set at the 1939 World Fair in New York City, a young Hollywood starlet is sent to perform at the Aquacade and a budding journalist is assigned to the fair’s daily newspaper. Neither thought they’d spend their summer at the fair, and yet it is one they will never forget. I loved this glimpse into a glamorous past, and the realities behind it. I found myself cheering for the two women as they learned about feminism and how to use it. The narrator broke the fourth wall a few times to talk directly to the reader. For me, it broke the flow a little bit, but it also increased the suspense! You’ll love this if you liked The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo!
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  • Susan Peterson
    January 1, 1970
    We Came Here to Shine was an entertaining story about two ambitious young women whose lives intersect while working at the New York World’s Fair in 1939. This book had such a wonderful, nostalgic feel, and the author did a great job of bringing the setting to life! Vivi and Max were a lot of fun to read about, as they spent this summer at the Fair truly finding out what they want out of life, and what is most important to them.
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  • Laura
    January 1, 1970
    We Came Here to Shine follows two young girls, Max and Vivi, during the World's Fair of 1939. Max is a journalist, who much to her chagrin, has been assigned to a paper at the fair. Vivi, trying to make it in Hollywood has been relegated to a water show at the fair instead of appearing in the pictures. They meet on a chance and become instant friends as their lives become more and more entwined. This was a fun read. The characters are well written, the writing style befits the time. The World's We Came Here to Shine follows two young girls, Max and Vivi, during the World's Fair of 1939. Max is a journalist, who much to her chagrin, has been assigned to a paper at the fair. Vivi, trying to make it in Hollywood has been relegated to a water show at the fair instead of appearing in the pictures. They meet on a chance and become instant friends as their lives become more and more entwined. This was a fun read. The characters are well written, the writing style befits the time. The World's Fair and the drama behind it adds a fun background. It's definitely a strong novel that celebrates the beginnings of women's rights and the modern feminist movement. I really enjoyed it.
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  • Karen
    January 1, 1970
    WE CAME HERE TO SHINEBY SUSIE ORMAN SCHNALLI loved this author's previous book of historical fiction called, "The Subway Girls," so I was delighted to discover that she has written another work of historical fiction called, "We Came Here to Shine."I was delighted to receive an ARC of "We Came Here to Shine" because I love the way this author writes. When I read I always hope to learn something new and Susie Orman Schnall's new novel of historical fiction about the 1939 World's Fair which took pl WE CAME HERE TO SHINEBY SUSIE ORMAN SCHNALLI loved this author's previous book of historical fiction called, "The Subway Girls," so I was delighted to discover that she has written another work of historical fiction called, "We Came Here to Shine."I was delighted to receive an ARC of "We Came Here to Shine" because I love the way this author writes. When I read I always hope to learn something new and Susie Orman Schnall's new novel of historical fiction about the 1939 World's Fair which took place in New York City was fascinating and so much fun. She has such an engaging voice that instantly pulled me into the story and kept me riveted to the very end. I was intrigued to research further about some of the structures mentioned and was happy to discover that they were really amazing architectural wonders that existed in real life at the fair. This made for a really exciting setting that delivered on teaching me about real life exhibits that really did take place in 1939 at the World's fair. Just like Erik Larson's popular book called, "The Devil in White City," which took place in 1879 featured inventions that were magnificent this book is similar and I felt like I was attending the fair in both novels. I wish that in this day and age that there were World Fair's that draws people from all over the globe showcasing new inventions and I wonder why they don't exist anymore. The descriptions of the events, exhibits, dining and rides were vividly brought to life so clearly by this talented author. Not only did I satisfy my desire to learn something that I hadn't heard of, the story and the character's were captivating because I learned about how women's discrimination was still very much alive in 1939. Even though in 1920 when women won the right to vote, the glaring inequalities still existed nineteen years later.There are two interesting main character's who are trying to attain their dreams in the workforce. Max is attending university to become a journalist and there is a contest for a scholarship she needs desperately to win in order to fund the tuition for the following year. The contest is whoever writes the best article will win the scholarship and with her father's loss of employment Max is depending on winning that scholarship to pay for her tuition the following year. Max is ambitious and wants to work for the New York Times. Instead she is delegated to work for the World's Fair daily paper with her classmate Charlie. The problem is that the man in charge doesn't believe women can write articles as well as men. Her job is to organize and submit the Fair's events and exhibits and Charlie writes the articles and gets to sign his name to the articles with the information Max has gathered each day. Charlie is overwhelmed and clearly needs help and Max is bored and can easily help him by writing articles but she isn't allowed to sign her name to them much less write them. It is crucial to Max that she submits an article with her name on the byline in order to win that scholarship. The disparity between women and men is illuminated. What do you think Max can do about her quandary? What would you do if you were assigned a position that you were over qualified for but because of your gender you were denied the chance to participate? In this case its 1939 and women clearly are at a disadvantaged.Vivi is promised a role as a leading actress in a one of the studio's biggest picture films of 1940. Her role is Academy Award material. When she and her agent are called into a meeting with the head of the studio he asks Vivi if she has heard of the Auquacade. She answers that she read about it in Life Magazine. It is a swimming and dance production in New York's World Fair. She is told by the studio head, Mr Green that he has loaned her out to his friend to swim and perform in the production at the World's Fair in New York. Vivi wonders if he is traded her because she has ignored his advances in the past. Mr. Green tells Vivi to remember while she goes back to New York that she still represents World Wide Studio's and if she performs well that in return she will get a leading role in a film that he has in mind for her when she returns in four to five months. There is so much that happens in this very engaging historical novel. I really enjoy this author's voice . She is someone who I want to read her former books. This one is a favorite for 2020 for sure if not an all time favorite. I am going to buy the physical copy and I highly recommend it to fans of historical fiction. I was sad when I finished this because I enjoyed every minute of reading it. "The Subway Girls," was also a five star read for me and memorable. I didn't put in any spoilers so my review just sets up a preface of the beginning of this fabulous novel. There are many interesting facets in this gem. I think that women would like this since it deals with the inequalities women dealt with and how they persevered. I hope anybody who reads this gives this historical novel a try. The 1939 World's Fair descriptions are priceless. You will feel like you attended it yourself.Publication Date: June 16, 2020Thank you to Net Galley, Susie Orman Schnall and St. Martin's Publishing for providing me with my ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.#WeCameHeretoShine #SusieOrmanSchnall #St.Martin'sPublishing #NetGalley
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  • Sue
    January 1, 1970
    This novel is about two women who appear to be complete opposites but end up becoming friends at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. Viva is an actress from Hollywood and Max is a journalism student. They both are forced to work at the fair not by their desire but by a studio owner and a professor but the more they see of the extravaganza, the more they get settled into their new jobs.Viva is an up and coming actress who has just been hired for her first starring role in a movie after severa This novel is about two women who appear to be complete opposites but end up becoming friends at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. Viva is an actress from Hollywood and Max is a journalism student. They both are forced to work at the fair not by their desire but by a studio owner and a professor but the more they see of the extravaganza, the more they get settled into their new jobs.Viva is an up and coming actress who has just been hired for her first starring role in a movie after several years of playing bit parts. The morning that the movie is supposed to start filming, she is called into the office of the studio owner and told that she looks too innocent to be playing the main role in this movie and that someone else has been hired for the role. She's told that if she'll go to New York to be the lead in the Aquacade with Johnny Weissmuller for a year, there will be a starring movie role waiting for her when she gets back. With no other choice, she packs up her apartment, tells her long time boyfriend that she's leaving and takes the train to NYC. When she goes to the pool the first day, she's met with resentment by some of the cast and by a huge role that she needs to learn right away but she knows that she has a starring role waiting for her back in Hollywood so she starts learning the dances and keeps her upbeat, though nervous, attitude.Max is a journalism student and ready to start her last year of college. She's wanted to be a reporter at the New York Times since she was a child. The professor hands out papers telling all of the students where they will do their internship for the summer and she is very disappointed when she sees that she's been given a summer job at the newspaper at the World's Fair and not the New York Times job that she requested. When she starts the job, she is told that she won't be allowed to write any articles but will instead be writing the daily list of activities and working in the office while a fellow male student gets all the work that she desires. She decides to make the best of it but to try to find chances to undermine the male student and write some articles.Vivi and Max are both facing sexism in a very blatant manner - their lives are totally determined by the men that they work for and they are both unable to break out of their roles. When they meet each other, they quickly become good friends and share their disappointment with each other. As the summer goes on, will their friendship help give them the strength to obtain their goals? This is a story about love and friendship, sexism and meeting personal goals all taking place at the beautiful World's Fair.Thanks to the publisher for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.
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