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We Came Here to Shine

4.26  ·  Rating details ·  43 ratings  ·  35 reviews
Set during the iconic 1939 New York World’s Fair, two intrepid young women—an aspiring journalist and a down-on-her-luck actress—form an unlikely friendship as they navigate a world of endless possibility, stand down adversity, and find out what they are truly made of during the glorious summer of spectacle and opportunity…

“An ode to female friendship that pulses with
Paperback, 384 pages
Expected publication: June 16th 2020 by St. Martin's Griffin
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Average rating 4.26  · 
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Camille Maio
Jan 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jennifer S. Brown
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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
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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
Genevieve Trono
Feb 03, 2020 rated it liked it
We Came Here to Sine by Susie Orman Schnall was a highly anticipated 2020 read for me. I love historical fiction novels that focus on relationships between women and the search for equality.

While this book had a wonderful premise, I struggled to fully connect with the characters and really wished for more details into the time and place that this book occurred. While I did learn about some of the aspects of the 1939 World's Fair I was left feeling like I needed more to really set the scene of
Sydney Long
Jan 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-reads
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 ...more
Jan 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
I read Schnall's THE SUBWAY GIRLS about a year ago and loved it. WE CAME HERE TO SHINE is equally as good. Set during the 1939 World's Fair in New York, WE CAME HERE TO SHINE follows two young women: Max, a journalist student at NYU and Vivi, a Hollywood actress (from NYC) who is sent to the World's Fair to be the headliner of a synchronized swimming showcase. Filled with a lot of heart, Schnall's story of 1939 is about the power of friendship, the burgeoning feminist movement, searching for ...more
Kimberly Mussell
Dec 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
What an exceptional read! Welcome to New York and the 1939 World’s Fair! The epitome of this era and the glorious feeling of what’s to come!
Max and Vivi are two characters I would love to see in a sequel! There is so much more they can experience and I love that opportunity in characters.
When it is snowy and cold outside (and my car is buried under 2ft of ), superspeed readers like me can read 250+ pages/hour, so yes, I have read the book … and many more today. LOL

I requested and received a temporary digital Advance Reader Copy of this book from #NetGalley, the publisher and the author in exchange for an honest review.

From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do .

Set during the iconic 1939 New
Amy Robertson
Jan 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
We Came Here to Shine, by Susie Orman Schnall, is a treat to any and all of us who grew up watching old Esther Williams movies on a Sunday afternoon. I wanted to be that girl, and that is why I chose this book. Growing up in NY, although years after the 1939 World's Fair, sealed my interest in everything this book had to offer, and more!

The story begins with two girls, from vastly different worlds, as they collide on the scene of the opening of the World's Fair, NY, 1939. That is not their only
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: giveaways
Thank you NetGalley and St Martin’s Griffin for this ARC. This was was definitely my kind of book! Exceptional read, I did not want this book to end.
Life and its twists and turns. How a conversation, a reaction, an encounter can change your life trajectory. How resilient women must be —HAD to be back in 1939 in order to have a career and live their dream outside the home. This was a marvellous story of two young ladies who overcame a world ran by men thanks to their boldness and unexpected
Jan 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of We Came Here to Shine in exchange for my honest review.

I absolutely LOVED Schnall's earlier book Subway Girls and was a little disappointed in this, but still enjoyed it. I wished there was a little more about the 1939 World's Fair, I felt the Fair was just the backdrop to the story but wanted more history and to feel the fair more and how the summer of 1939 really was,

I enjoyed reading about the friendships and strong women
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I was delighted to receive a copy of Susie Orman’s new book We Came Here to Shine because I really loved her last book The Subway Girls. Susie does an incredible job of telling two parallel stories that are both so gripping and intriguing that you don’t mind going back and forth between the two. She introduces us to one character and then another, and in the middle they seamless flow together so that now their stories are intertwined. Beautiful story of two women trying to make their way in the ...more
Jena Henry
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The World’s Fair in New York City opened on April 30, 1939, and we meet two young woman a few weeks later as they start working at the Fair. Author Schnall, who gave us the inspiring story of The Subway Girls, has created another historical fiction novel that will satisfy your dreams as you visit a by gone era. I liked this book!

The World’s Fair was billed as the “Dawn of a New Day” and the “World of Tomorrow”. Yet for Hollywood ingenue actress Vivi Holden, and New York University journalism
Feb 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: giveaways
We Came Here to Shine follows two women working at the 1939 World's Fair in New York City. The friendship between the women and the interesting backdrop of the fair were terrific. There were lots of details about the World's Fair and some photographs in the beginning of the book that I really enjoyed very much. The book was engaging and moved along at a great pace. I would have given the book a rating of five stars. My only problem with the book was the ending.

Spoiler alert: I'm going to talk
Feb 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh, my word!!! What a fun story!!!! We Came Here To Shine by Susie Orman Schnall is one of those books that you will have to read more than once. It is filled with hold your breath storylines, fantastic time period descriptions of clothing and lifestyles, plus realistic society issues that are still happening today. I just loved this book. Schnall gives each character, no matter how minor, an individual story, yet she manages to weave them together to create a book that you can't put down.
Feb 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall takes place during the 1939 Worlds Fair in New York. We follow the story of two young women, Vivi a Hollywood starlet sent by her studio to swim in the aquacade, and Maxine interning at the fairs newspaper. While the story takes place in 1939 it could have taken place any decade, or even today. Women fighting for equality in the workplace, family secrets, strong female bonds, romance. While the fair does serve as a backdrop, for me somehow it wasn’t ...more
Darlene Golbitz
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
Thanks to Goodreads and St. Martin's Press, I received a complimentary ARC of Susie Orman Schnal's new novel. This engaging historical fiction is centered around the 1939 World's Fair in NYC, and reveals the attitudes towards young working women of that era. In highlighting both a woman seeking a professional journalism degree and a hopeful film starlet, the author introduced the prevalent moral code and biases, and revealed how these likeable characters bonded, and then confronted and coped ...more
Kristina Elias
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
* An advanced copy was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Real Rating: 3.5 stars

We Came Here to Shine follows two girls working at the World Fair in New York City: Maxine Roth, an aspiring reporter who's less than happy about her assignment at the Fair newspaper, and Vivi Holden, an aspiring actress who has a dark past in New York, and also performs in the show's Aquacade. The two girls meet and uncover sinister plots within the Fair...

All in all, I liked We Came Here
Elise Hooper
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A struggling actress, a student journalist.....and the 1939 World’s Fair. You do what you have to do to accomplish your goals in life. Set with the setting of a historic World’s Fair, it is an interesting read.
Jan 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing
We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall is a fabulous and delightful historical fiction novel that takes place in Queens, NY the summer of 1939 during the World’s Fair.

The book alternates between two main female characters in their early 20s: Vivi and Max. I really enjoyed not only the alternating chapters and viewpoints, but also the chapters that intertwined both women. The way that the viewpoints and dialogue was set up was quite ingenious.

I loved both characters. Both women were at a
Ginger Pollard
Feb 12, 2020 rated it liked it
I was excited to read this book, as I loved Subway Girls by this author. I could not connect with the characters. I struggled until 50% and gave up.
I received an ARC of this book from Netgalley. Thank you, Netgalley.
All opinions are my own.
Rachel Parrott
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
Visit the 1939 World's Fair through the eyes of two dynamic women seeking to forge a trail in their industry. 'We Came Here to Shine' is full of vibrant characters in a dynamic time and place.

My copy was a gift through Goodreads First Reads.
Bonnye Reed
Feb 05, 2020 is currently reading it
pub date June 16, 2020
St. Martin's - Griffin
Jan 30, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I expect to love every piece of historical fiction that I read; that sets the bar high before I even read the first word. This was a good story but it was a bit too simple to rate it higher than 3 stars. There were a number of scenes that didn't feel real to me; in those cases the dialogue was stilted or unnecessarily extended. I did like the two main characters but I would have liked them to have been a bit more developed. I enjoy this author's writing and will definitely want to read her next ...more
Cassidy Morgan
Feb 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to net galley and st martins for an early copy of this book! 5 stars! An amazing historical fiction about the lives of two young women in the late 1930s focused on how women in the workplace were regarded during this time. Both characters are experiencing discrimination in their respective work places, while dealing with family drama + romances on the side. I was hooked the entire time and really didn’t want to put this down.
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Oh my goodness! This was wonderful! Vivi and Max’s story was beautifully executed. Surrounded by the World’s Fair, the emerging war, and all of the struggles faced as a working young woman in the thirties, these women truly shine! I loved the character development and growth. It was such a smooth and entrancing journey through 1939. You’ll love this book!
Jan 19, 2020 rated it liked it
The New York World's Fair of 1939 comes to life for readers in Susie Orman Schnall's novel WE CAME HERE TO SHINE. I'm familiar with the iconic pavilions and graphics from this "ode to the future" but this book took me into the heart of the '39 Fair through the experiences of two young women working there.

I am drawn to stories about the limited choices available to women in the early 20th Century, but this story put us a generation forward when women WERE presented with opportunities, but they
Jan 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
The year is 1939 and the feminist movement is in its infancy stage. Vivi Holden and Maxine "Max" Roth both meet at the 1939 World's Fair. Vivi is an aspiring actress and Max is an aspiring journalist. Both are dependent upon the men in their industry...for Vivi as a down-on-her luck starlet, she is removed from the current movie she was making as the lead actress and sent to New York to perform in Billy Rose's Aquacade. With no experience as a water ballerina, she has no choice but to follow the ...more
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Hi! Thanks for visiting me on Goodreads! Here's a little bit about me...

I am the author of two works of historical fiction: WE CAME HERE TO SHINE and THE SUBWAY GIRLS along with two earlier works of contemporary fiction: THE BALANCE PROJECT and ON GRACE. I grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania. My writing has appeared in publications including The New York Times,