Jessica Woodbury's Reviews > We Are All Good People Here

We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White
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bookshelves: arc, historical-fiction

The journey of the boomer generation from 60's radicals to 80's conservatives has been traced out before, and often it's not a story I'm all that interested in, but it does feel newly relevant in our current times. It seems a particularly good time for a story about how minor political differences can lead to significant alterations of friendships and relationships. While it starts with a lot of potential, ultimately I felt that it didn't go deep enough to be really satisfying.

Eve and Daniella meet as so many female friends in books do, on their first day of college at their shared dorm room. Eve is a Southern blonde from a family of means, a third-generation attendee of their small women's college. Daniella is half-Jewish (though a practicing Unitarian), the child of educated liberals with strong politics. They are not much alike on paper but immediately become fast friends, especially as Eve slowly begins to see the inequality of the world around her for the first time away from the shelter of her parents. At first Daniella is the stronger force, trying to help Eve understand how things work, but ultimately it is Eve's emotional investment that becomes stronger and deeper. Eve makes lots of well-meaning-white-girl mistakes but only grows more committed. Daniella begins to follow a more traditional path and their lives diverge, only to find themselves intertwining again years later.

From there the book skips forward in time to their daughters, looking at how Eve and Daniella have changed, and how their choices have played out for their families. But once the book reaches its turning point halfway through, it loses much of its momentum. After hopping from one character to the other, letting us see how they both feel, at one point we stop following Eve's point of view entirely even though it is at the most crucial point where she goes through the most change. Nor do we get to go back inside her head after everything has played out. Instead we follow Daniella's daughter, who is the least involved in the second half of the plot. Seeing it from her point of view doesn't make it more interesting or dramatic, it only keeps us at a distance from the meatiest part of the story. It also makes the plot feel more pat and predictable without seeing it directly.

This book tries to make some interesting points about radicalism and extreme beliefs, about how to make change, but it doesn't see them through. Daniella reflects at the end of the book on her beliefs and her commitment to them, but these reflections feel half-hearted, all done in retrospect. The way Eve and Daniella challenge each other at the beginning of the book is really interesting. But after they fall into typical polite adult behavior, the stakes don't feel the same.
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Reading Progress

August 13, 2019 – Started Reading
August 14, 2019 – Shelved
August 15, 2019 – Shelved as: arc
August 15, 2019 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
August 15, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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Brandice Sorry to hear this lost momentum :-/. I have a copy and plan to read it soon. Great review, Jessica!

message 2: by Felicia (new)

Felicia Excellent review, Jessica 💖

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