We Are All Good People Here

We Are All Good People Here

From the author of A Place at the Table and A Soft Place to Land, an “intense, complex, and wholly immersive” (Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author) multigenerational novel that explores the complex relationship between two very different women and the secrets they bequeath to their daughters.Eve Whalen, privileged child of an old-money Atlanta family, meets...

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Title:We Are All Good People Here
Author:Susan Rebecca White
Rating:

We Are All Good People Here Reviews

  • Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters

    No spoilers about the storytelling - no specifics about the **wonderful** storytelling....

    More about how I felt....plenty to give a flavor of what readers are in store to read.

    I LOVED IT!!!!

    Belmont

    Roanoke, Virginia 1962

    I was excited to read Susan Rebecca White’s novel - the minute I read the blurb. The eye-catching book cover didn’t hurt to pique my interest either...

    but when I ‘knew’ for sure that I was in great hands by a new author -to me- was when I read this - only 2% into this novel:

    “Oh,

    No spoilers about the storytelling - no specifics about the **wonderful** storytelling....

    More about how I felt....plenty to give a flavor of what readers are in store to read.

    I LOVED IT!!!!

    Belmont

    Roanoke, Virginia 1962

    I was excited to read Susan Rebecca White’s novel - the minute I read the blurb. The eye-catching book cover didn’t hurt to pique my interest either...

    but when I ‘knew’ for sure that I was in great hands by a new author -to me- was when I read this - only 2% into this novel:

    “Oh, I’m so excited to meet you! I don’t mean to be such a *spaz*, but I’ve been looking forward to this moment all summer!

    Wow....Rebecca Susan White took me back about 50 years. For some of us old farts - we remember using the term, “you spaz”....

    nothing politically correct about the slang word...

    So, I don’t mean to be a ‘spaz’, either...when I say...

    this novel kept getting better...and better....

    Daniella wore “a kelly-green sleeveless shirtdress and a pair of Keds printed with watermelon halves”.

    “KELLY-GREEN”... a “SHIRTDRESS”.... and “KEDS”......

    My goodness ... did the author find these clothes in my old teenage closet?

    Daniella’s shoulder-length blond hair was *teased* ...

    *flipped* at the ends... and of course a *barrette*.

    Oh my! I feel like I’m 16 years old, again ... smiling down memory land before the internet.

    This book is MUCH MORE than Hersheys chocolate over vanilla ice cream, vanilla wafers, hot cocoa, tweed dresses, Peter Pan collars, Capri pants, cashmere sweater sets, and saddle oxfords......

    AMERICAN HISTORY WAS CHANGING.....

    My heart, mind, and soul were activated.... reawakening feelings in me that had been dormant.

    I mostly just want to say ‘amen’ to this luminous book as a calling to us all.....

    The memories kept on flooding - page after page. As Bob Dylan sang to the world......Times are a 'changin'....in American History.....

    Susan Rebecca White captures visuals, smells, sounds, language, (BUMMER...SEXIST PIG, DIG IT?), music, hygiene, style, families, education, injustice, racism, discrimination, black inequality, casualties of war, Vietnam, smoking joints, long hair, hippies, McGovern buttons, spanning history from President Kennedy’s assassination to president Bill Clinton.

    I felt the anger - sick over violence - sadness - and the confusion of the characters resistance to change - (especially the privileged).....The lies of the bourgeoisie were disturbing.

    I felt like I WAS IN MISSISSIPPI during the civil rights movement.

    The right to vote came.....( with worries)....

    ....We look at morality, political choices, love, sex, free love, friendship, marriages, babies, divorce, deaths, and struggles of the times through the most wonderful intimate storytelling imaginable: stunningly brilliant!!!!!

    I actually cried from so much pride and enjoyment. Literally my entire body felt the impact.

    I couldn’t resist.... I downloading Bob Dylan’s 1964 hit release to “The Times They are changin”. With little tears in my eyes - I listened.

    For my generation.... Life was never more confusing, chaotic, and politically brutal

    than this period of history.

    Feelings of Melancholy.....

    A message I took away - equally true today....

    “Change would not happen without women who held power in the workforce”.

    Thank you Atria Books, Netgalley, and Susan Rebecca White

  • Michelle

    I definitely liked this more than I thought I would. I also really enjoyed the period it covered (60s-80s) as it was timely, (lots to compare to today’s headlines) and also educational for this child of the early 80s.

    Eve Whalen and Daniella Gold become fast friends when they are assigned as each other's roommates in their prestigious, women's college in Atlanta during the early 1960's. They bond over shared indignation that the maids (all colored) live

    I definitely liked this more than I thought I would. I also really enjoyed the period it covered (60s-80s) as it was timely, (lots to compare to today’s headlines) and also educational for this child of the early 80s.

    Eve Whalen and Daniella Gold become fast friends when they are assigned as each other's roommates in their prestigious, women's college in Atlanta during the early 1960's. They bond over shared indignation that the maids (all colored) live in the basement and are required to live with the students they care for, around the clock during the week. Eve also stands by her new best friend when Daniella is shunned from joining the sororities on campus because she is Jewish. As we move through the tumultuous times of the Vietnam era and beyond, both of their lives take a vastly different turn. It is much later they reconnect and follow their lives (and that of each daughter) through the late 1980s.

    I'm not sure if I had a better reaction to this because I didn't live through this time period so a lot of it is new? My parents who came of age during the Vietnam era (and are about the same age as our main characters in the book) didn't share a lot of their experiences during this time in their life with me. All I really know is that they were against the war vehemently and that's about it. So reading everything through the experience of Eve who joined a radical alt-left group fighting against the US government was entirely new. (Also, extremely interesting and terrifying.) I also liked the earlier part of the book that took place during their college years because it gave a lot of perspective of the white, upper-middle class South of which I haven't read too much of. It piqued the little sociologist in me to read about something so foreign!

    Where I found I was frustrated with the first half, I was thankful for in the second (which is weird how that worked out). I felt like I was kept at arms length from Eve and Daniella because so much is found out through the other person's perspective and time jumps rather quickly. I wanted to learn more about what they went through each day and maybe spend more time in this part of the book. However, in the second half, I didn't mind that as much (maybe because I was used to it at that point) and also because I appreciated it as the story wound down. (The book would have been well over 400+ pages if everything was told at length.)

    Overall, I felt the writing was very good, I learned a lot of new things and I was never bored. At a little over 250 pages, this was a great read and one I definitely enjoyed.

    Thank you to Netgalley, Atria Books and Susan Rebecca White for the opportunity to read this and provide an honest review.

    Review Date: 8/13/19

    Publication Date: 8/6/19

  • Angela M

    3.5 rounded up

    Social injustices, racism, antisemitism, anti war sentiment of US involvement in Vietnam are some of the issues that are front and center in this story of two young women who forge a friendship in college in the early 1960’s. Eve is from a well to do, elite family in Atlanta, steeped in tradition and their beliefs that the war is fine as long as it’s not their son who has to go, but the son of their black maid -“somebody has to go”. They also believe that their benevolence to their

    3.5 rounded up

    Social injustices, racism, antisemitism, anti war sentiment of US involvement in Vietnam are some of the issues that are front and center in this story of two young women who forge a friendship in college in the early 1960’s. Eve is from a well to do, elite family in Atlanta, steeped in tradition and their beliefs that the war is fine as long as it’s not their son who has to go, but the son of their black maid -“somebody has to go”. They also believe that their benevolence to their black maid and Eve’s nanny, by simply giving her a job absolves them of any idea that they are racist. Their idealistic and impetuous daughter thinks differently and she rebels through her path of radical activism. Daniella whose father is Jewish, comes from a completely different background and her path is a more tempered one of humanitarian activism. They become best friends, thinking at first that they think and feel very much the same, both with good intentions, but their different responses and actions impact their relationship and it is not until years later that they come together. Eve needs Daniella’s help to get her out the messy, dangerous circumstances she finds herself in after leading a life of radicalism.

    I wasn’t immediately taken with the story, but as it progressed, I became more interested, thinking about the different ways that people respond to social injustice and inequality. It was also stunning to think of how some of the issues, particularly with regard to racism and anti semitism are still here today. I was warned about an unnecessarily gruesome scene involving animal abuse . In all honesty, when I got to it, I skipped through it. I don’t understand why it was there. Overall, I thought it was worth reading and I also enjoyed the continuation of the story through the lives of Eve’s and Daniella’s daughters. It was an excellent portrayal of the times spanning the 1960’s - 1980’s, civil rights, Kennedy’s assassination, Vietnam. It’s also an excellent character study that had me thinking about the women’s motivations at various times in the novel.

    This ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

  • Tammy

    “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” –Bob Dylan

    That is, of course, until you think you do. I’m getting ahead of myself. This novel begins in 1962 with the well worn trope of two girls from different backgrounds thrown together as college roommates at Belmont and become fast friends. The writing is, initially, simplistic which I found off putting. Due to an unsettling event, the girls transfer to Barnard and the writing becomes more sophisticated as the girls lose some

    “You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows” –Bob Dylan

    That is, of course, until you think you do. I’m getting ahead of myself. This novel begins in 1962 with the well worn trope of two girls from different backgrounds thrown together as college roommates at Belmont and become fast friends. The writing is, initially, simplistic which I found off putting. Due to an unsettling event, the girls transfer to Barnard and the writing becomes more sophisticated as the girls lose some of their naiveté. Nice device. Both girls become involved in the civil rights movement during the seething sixties. One becomes a member of a radical left-wing terror organization and the other chooses a different path. Throughout three decades the themes of racism, political unrest, faith and cultural/societal norms are explored. Sound familiar? The voices of the main characters and their daughters are singular and realistic. Suffice it to say that good people with good intentions can put into motion events that have catastrophic outcomes.

  • Julie

    We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White is a 2019 Atria publication.

    The story begins just at the onset of the turbulent sixties where two girls from differing backgrounds meet and bond- not over boys or clothes or parties, but over social injustices they’ve experienced first-hand or were a witness to.

    Evelyn Elliot Whalen comes from a wealthy family, while Daniella Gold is from a middle -income family, and whose father

    We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White is a 2019 Atria publication.

    The story begins just at the onset of the turbulent sixties where two girls from differing backgrounds meet and bond- not over boys or clothes or parties, but over social injustices they’ve experienced first-hand or were a witness to.

    Evelyn Elliot Whalen comes from a wealthy family, while Daniella Gold is from a middle -income family, and whose father happens to be Jewish. The two girls are college roommates and become fast friends. However, their responses to the social injustices they are awakening to are entirely different. While the work with CORE is commendable, there are lines drawn, and sometimes those lines are very blurred. Can change really occur if we color inside those lines? How does well-meaning activism morph into dangerous radicalization?

    The ladies take two different paths, each critical of the other’s choices at times. However, their lives converge once again as they raise families of their own. But, when the past comes calling, the decisions they made will affect the next generation and shape them in ways that could solidify their unique familial patterns or break it.

    The monumental changes over a thirty- year span of time is highlighted through the two main characters, who cope in different ways, giving the reader plenty of food for thought.

    What makes the book even more complex is the southern setting, where certain values and ideals are so deeply embedded it is hard for even the most enlightened progressive thinker to cast them off.

    While the author addresses racism and anti- Semitism, she also highlights the polarization of the Vietnam war, and drugs, as well. But we also see the many challenges women faced in the workforce. A woman having a career may be tolerated to a certain extent, but once she had children her career should stop- and forget about advancement or equal pay- just to name a few examples.

    The only drawback for me was the disconnect with the characters. It often felt as though I was reading someone’s journal, rather than a fictional drama that plumbs the depths of one’s emotions. The only feelings I could summon were ones of frustration, brought on by some of the choices the characters made.

    There is also a rather gruesome scene involving an animal, the imagery of which I could have done without.

    This story is one that might not immediately grab you, but as the book progresses, I think the look back on the painful wounds in our country, and various ways people sought to heal those wounds, and bring about change, is what makes the story so compelling.

    Certain factions or fringes always spring up in times of turmoil and can often lure in the gentle idealist who has become frustrated by the political climate and the constant cogs in the wheels of change. Because these are the groups that make the headlines, often times, activism of any kind is equated with extremism. This story is most definitely a cautionary tale and I must concur- non-violence and a proper prospective is a must.

    But, in truth, the majority of activists, and I consider myself to be one for several important causes, work within the proper guidelines to progress and forge an atmosphere in which we can all play a part, work side by side, and make a difference. It isn’t always perfect, and there have been colossal blunders, but ultimately, great strides have been taken, although they were often very slow in coming. Activism is still important, still powerful and unfortunately, still very necessary.

    While this book is primarily the study of the two women who chose different paths, made different choices, and then must cope with the consequences or results of their decisions, it is also a story about friendship, one that endures despite periods of dormancy, and their frustrations and differences.

    Although this one failed to push my emotional buttons, and it is a bit slow and uneven at times, I still think that overall, the author reached the goal she set out to accomplish.

    3.5 rounded up

  • Cheri

    — N. K. Jemisin

    Beginning in the year 1962, this story centers around two young women - girls, really - entering their first year of college. Set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Roanoke, Virginia, Belmont College prides itself in the beauty and brains their young women have. The first of these two to arrive was Evelyn, Eve, who embraces Daniella in a welcoming hug when she

    — N. K. Jemisin

    Beginning in the year 1962, this story centers around two young women - girls, really - entering their first year of college. Set against the backdrop of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Roanoke, Virginia, Belmont College prides itself in the beauty and brains their young women have. The first of these two to arrive was Evelyn, Eve, who embraces Daniella in a welcoming hug when she arrives with her parents. Eve manages to quickly bond with Daniella’s mother over Eve’s tea set, the pattern being the same as the set Daniella’s Mother Scott left her. Her mother insists that the two girls are bound to be “a match made in heaven.”

    I loved the references to the clothing, the music, the shoes, the decorations, even the colour schemes that were included, all of that had me smiling even while I wondered when we were going to get to the 1960’s, those revolutionary years that birthed so many changes, some good, some not so good, regardless of the original intent. It didn’t take long for this to really pick up the pace, once a cause that hits home to Eve has less than positive results.

    There were some fairly iconic events during that time, the War in Vietnam, the Freedom Rides were just beginning, MLK became a household name, sit-ins for desegregation, and then later for anti-war protests, clothing changed, hairstyles changed, and families who once were friendly stopped sharing their opinions. JFK was shot, and then Bobby Kennedy, and MLK. The Beatles brought a change in music, and music changed beyond that. Music became a way to voice anger, frustration, distrust of the government, protest and also love as a solution. On the other side were people who had been perfectly happy with life before desegregation, who thought the war was a good thing, and protested the changes, the attempts at changes in a more volatile way, and soon, so did the other side.

    Turbulent times tend to polarize people, and the further one of them goes in one direction, the other one tends to go in the opposite one. Their friendship becomes, if not strained then… perhaps less substantial at times over the decades this story covers, in part because they are no longer living near each other.

    White manages to take these two very different women, their families, and bring them - along with three decades of history - to life in this mesmerizing story that was occasionally disturbing, entertaining, and yet retained a realistic and empathetic sense of the complexity of these relationships.

    Pub Date: 06 Aug 2019

    Many thanks for the ARC provided by my Book Angel!

  • Nilufer Ozmekik

    Three point five, completely deserved to be rounded up to four because I had great time-travel between 60’s and 80’s and enjoyed well-developed, genuine, character-driven story about two women’s friendship throughout the years which warmed my heart stars!

    This story centered around two protagonists who are different from each other like night and day, cold and hot, Eve and Daniella. Eve comes from wealthy Southern family, self-confident, passionate, activist, idealist character. When it comes to

    Three point five, completely deserved to be rounded up to four because I had great time-travel between 60’s and 80’s and enjoyed well-developed, genuine, character-driven story about two women’s friendship throughout the years which warmed my heart stars!

    This story centered around two protagonists who are different from each other like night and day, cold and hot, Eve and Daniella. Eve comes from wealthy Southern family, self-confident, passionate, activist, idealist character. When it comes to Daniella, she has a Jewish family consisted of Academicians, more attentive, deliberate, appreciable girl who doesn’t want to take unnecessary risks in her life. Their opposite characters bring out more conflicts which test their friendship but their unconditional remaining bond is never untied by the struggles they’d gotten through.

    It is educational read especially about white upper-class Southern culture, a different approach to Vietnam War and extreme left groups’ propaganda strategies, Kennedy’s assassination. It was vivid and fast reading made me wish I had more pages of this book and read more about those characters’ stories and political, religious, racial, societal turmoil of those times.

    Especially second half moved so fast that I just looked at the pages and thought somebody stole some parts because it ended sooner than I expected. I was about to write a letter to the writer for kindly requesting additional pages because I loved her characters and I preferred to spend more time with them (I know they’re fictional. I already told my shrink, too who insisted to see me more than 2 times a week. I told him I already spent his fees for my books. Evil laugh again!)

    I liked the satisfying ending. This book was a nice and smooth escape for me after reading too many thrillers. It relaxed me and kept my heart warm with the beautiful, profound, poignant friendship story and additional amazing history lesson.

    Thank you to Atria Books and Netgalley to give me the opportunity for reading this ARC COPY in exchange my honest review.

  • Brandice

    is the story of Eve Whalen and Daniella Gold, who meet in college at Belmont in the early 1960s. The girls are from contrasting backgrounds and the college experience is eye-opening for both of them as social injustices and political events are revealed, changing their perspectives.

    After college, Eve joins the radical movement and Daniella attends law school. The story follows Eve and Daniella through their various paths in life over the years, with the final part of

    is the story of Eve Whalen and Daniella Gold, who meet in college at Belmont in the early 1960s. The girls are from contrasting backgrounds and the college experience is eye-opening for both of them as social injustices and political events are revealed, changing their perspectives.

    After college, Eve joins the radical movement and Daniella attends law school. The story follows Eve and Daniella through their various paths in life over the years, with the final part of the book focusing on each of their daughters, Anna and Sarah.

    I ended up enjoying

    more than I thought I initially would - The beginning was ok, the middle became boring for me, but then, fortunately, the final part picked up. Recognizing there was a lot going on in the U.S. during the decades of this story, I did feel like the book tried to touch on too many subjects instead of selecting 1-2 to give greater more detailed focus. The topics were relevant for the time period of the story yet I couldn’t help but think “What else will be thrown in next?”

    While there are many themes and takeaways,

    reinforces that some ideas are subjective, it’s easy to judge others, and there are multiple ways to partake in the act of doing good.

  • Liz

    I seem to be on a roll reading historical fiction, especially books about the 1960s. We Are All Good People Here, starts in the 1960s and moves forward, tracking two women that meet as college freshmen. Despite opposite backgrounds, they bond. So much of this brought memories flooding back to me. White totally captures the times - the racial inequities, the sexism, the politics. At first, I worried that this was going to be women’s lit, fluff and the characters would be caricatures. But White

    I seem to be on a roll reading historical fiction, especially books about the 1960s. We Are All Good People Here, starts in the 1960s and moves forward, tracking two women that meet as college freshmen. Despite opposite backgrounds, they bond. So much of this brought memories flooding back to me. White totally captures the times - the racial inequities, the sexism, the politics. At first, I worried that this was going to be women’s lit, fluff and the characters would be caricatures. But White surprised me. There are some hard core scenes here, one of which caused me to lose all respect for Eve. A respect I never did retrieve, especially as she seems to move from just following one man or another. Flip side, I found Daniella to be totally relatable as she seeks to fight first the sexism and then, the racism of the day.

    The story drags in the middle, as we veer from one generation to the next. To be honest, I never quite regained my interest in the book after we move into the third decade. It came across as just trying to tick off the hot issues - date rape, acceptance of gays, the rise of conservative religious beliefs.

    I’m thinking this is a case of the author trying to do too much. I can’t help but wonder if I would have liked the book more if it had just stayed focused on Eve and Daniella and their earlier years.

    My thanks to netgalley and Atria Books for an advance copy of this book.

  • Diane S ☔

    Although the time period is authentically portrayed, I am ending at 40%. Can't deal with that cat scene, not only can't but won't. Don't feel the story would have been any less had that been left out.

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