June 2020
St. Martin's Griffin
Historical Fiction
Paperback, 384 pages
by Susie Orman Schnall

Set at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, We Came Here to Shin e is uplifting historical fiction about two bold women discovering themselves during a glorious summer of spectacle and potential.

Gorgeous Vivi stars in the Aquacade swimming spectacular and plucky Max writes for the fair's daily paper. Both are striving to make their way in a world where men try to control their actions. But when Vivi and Max become friends and their personal and professional prospects are jeopardized, they help each other succeed and realize their dreams during the most meaningful summer of their lives. We Came Here to Shine is a story of ambition, friendship, and persistence with a fascinating and informative behind-the-scenes look at the extraordinary New York World's Fair.
"An ode to female friendship that pulses with momentum and left me breathless.”
-author Fiona Davis

"...a perfect escape. In many ways, the third fascinating character in this book is the 1939 World’s Fair itself, as Schnall’s lush descriptions of the fair’s pavilions and amusements leap off of the page."
-author Jane Healey
Dear Reader,

It's 1939. The United States is in that sweet and fleeting spot between the end of the Depression and its involvement in World War II. There is great cause for celebration—New York is hosting the World's Fair! The fair's theme is "The World of Tomorrow" and the air is filled with innovation, potential, and rosy hope for the future. 

It is amidst this joy and promise that I set We Came Here to Shine , and I take the reader behind the scenes to witness all the fair has to offer: the sights, sounds, and, yes, tastes!

As you discuss Vivi and Max's setbacks and ambitious dreams, visit 1939 by enjoying the delicacies, comfort foods, and beverages served at the fair. 

I love attending book clubs virtually and sharing stories and memorabilia from the fair—please contact me at my website and we can set it up!

Hope you enjoy We Came Here to Shine —See you at the fair!


Susie Orman Schnall's Book Club Menu
for We Came Here to Shine
The 1939 New York World's Fair was a place of both culinary innovation and familiar fair food. In the Food Zone, visitors were introduced to corporate exhibitions of food science and production at pavilions for companies such as Borden, Heinz, and Wonder Bread. They tasted delicacies from foreign countries such as Turkey, Cuba, and Italy in the Government Zone, and enjoyed familiar foods such as doughnuts and hot dogs in the Amusements Zone, the area of the fair that had rides, shows, and other entertainment.
Culinary highlights of the fair: The Mayflower Doughnut Casino offered sixty varieties and sold more than seven million doughnuts during the first year of the fair; Coca Cola was the official soda of the fair with a bottling facility on site; The French Pavilion introduced the “Chef System" to fair patrons, and the head chefs of the exclusive and dramatic Le Restaurant went on to open Le Pavillon in Manhattan upon the fair’s closing; and the Famous Chicken Inn, which has a cameo in the novel, offered Southern fried chicken “with all the trimmings” —cole slaw, potatoes, rolls, and butter– for 65¢. Other restaurants and food mentioned in the novel include the Turf Trylon Cafe where Max and Vivi go for drinks, the Italian Pavilion where there is an eventful dinner, a sandwich stand in the Government Pavilion, and the Rheingold Bar in the Amusements Zone's Sun Valley, Idaho Pavilion.

You might also serve these cocktails invented in the late 1930s: The Zombie, a drink that became popular at the fair; the Hemingway Special, invented for Ernest Hemingway in 1939 by Antonio Melan in Cuba; and the Pink Daiquiri, invented in 1939 in Cuba (also known as a Daiquiri No 5).