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.
Rated 4 out of 5 stars.
Publication Date: June 16, 2020.
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