cover image We Came Here to Shine

We Came Here to Shine

Susie Orman Schnall. St. Martin’s Griffin, $16.99 trade paper (384p) ISBN 978-1-250-16978-5

Schnall (The Subway Girls) sets this inspiring tale of friendship between two driven women at the 1939 World’s Fair. Vivi Holden is a young Hollywood starlet poised for her first leading role, while Maxine “Max” Roth is an NYU student intent on a summer internship at the New York Times. But after test audiences disapprove of Vivi as a conniving lead, her studio sends her to the fair’s Aquacade water ballet. Max, meanwhile, doesn’t get the internship and instead ends up at the daily World’s Fair publication, where her male counterpart writes the articles while Max manages the schedule. Vivi returns to her native New York City and learns she has four days to learn the Aquacade’s intricate swimming sequences to perform in front of thousands. At the fair, Vivi and Max meet after listening to a talk on women’s rights and begin going out for drinks. After photos surface of Vivi with Dean, the new lead swimmer, management informs the duo they are to act as a couple. Vivi then devises a plan with Max to spin the story to their advantage. While a melodramatic subplot leads to an outlandish scene of violence, Schall makes Max and Vivi’s struggle to fulfill their dreams palpable. Schnall’s engrossing period piece offers two characters worth rooting for. (June)