Cover Image: We Are All Good People Here

We Are All Good People Here

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

We Are All Good People Here 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 and their various life paths throughout the years, with the final part of the book focusing on each of their daughters, Anna and Sarah. 

I ended up enjoying We Are All Good People Here 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, We Are All Good People Here 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.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
This was an interesting story from a time period I have rarely read about. It begins at a women's college in the early 1960's with two women, from very different backgrounds: one from a traditional Southern family and one with a Jewish father raised in a Unitarian church. The story discusses injustices/prejudices against African Americans and Jewish people in the 1960's and 1970's. 

These two girls ultimately diverge: one becomes a lawyer and the other joins an underground group who are against the Vietnam war and some of which are quite radical (bomb makers etc). I was greatly intrigued by the premise and the first half of the novel. 

However, the story then goes into the 1980's involving the initial two women's daughters and the essence that drew me in felt lost a bit for me with the daughter's stories. The ending was unexpected and fitting, but overall I am not sure the execution of the second half of the novel was suited and polished enough. 

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for my copy and honest review.
Was this review helpful?
This book is takes place during a time when racial conflict was still prevalent in America. Eve, who grew up in the South, has lived a sheltered life with everything at her feet. Daniella, on the other hand, is quite aware of the changes happening around her and enlightens Eve about it. Eve has never thought about all this, and with good intentions, tries to be helpful in any way which she could. Daniella decides to fight the system from the inside to try to bring progressive changes in a time where women aren't ambitious and don't work for money alone. Eve, on the other hand, tries to fight the system from the outside and leans towards extremism by mistake. The books how they both fight the system.

I thought that the book could have been so much better. It dragged on for quite a while in the middle, and I wished their daughter's journey was shown more than it was. It seemed to end abruptly, it felt unfinished. If the daughters' part were longer and the middle part was shorter, this would have been a great book.
Was this review helpful?
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.
Was this review helpful?
Thanks to NetGalley, Atria Books and Susan Rebecca White for the opportunity to read and review this book.  

This is a multi-generation story, beginning with Eve and Daniella, two privileged girls from the south, beginning their college years at Belmont College in Virginia in the early 1960s.  Eve followed her mom and grandmother's footsteps in attending Belmont and being accepted into Fleur, the elite sorority.  When Daniella, who is half-Jewish, didn't get into the sorority, it began a series of injustices that threw both of them off their projected paths.  They eventually transfer to Barnard, where they both get involved with more radical people and ideals.  The women take very different paths in the years after school and lose touch with each other, but come back together when Eve is in trouble.  They both have daughters and the story progresses from the daughters' viewpoints.

These were turbulent times of racism, sexism, war and politics (hmm...sounds like today as well!).  This was a well-researched book, including many true people and events.
Was this review helpful?
We Are All Good People Here is a story of friendship set against the tumultuous 60s through the election of Bill Clinton. This is perhaps one of the most interesting times in US history, from Civil Rights to Vietnam to the rise of Reagan. 

As all of this goes on around them, Eve and Daniella go from doe-eyes young girls to more world weary women. While both want to change history, fight for equal rights, and fight against the war, they have different ideals on how to accomplish it, which leads to a rift until a violent incident brings them back together. 

It's a book about change and growth - how many of us are the same people we were when we are 18 after 10, 20, or even 30 years? Do we still hold the same things dear? Does having children change the game at all? The book explores these beautifully, touching on very real events without feeling bogged down and overbloated.
Was this review helpful?
This novel didn't grab my attention. There's plenty of higher reviews on here and I wish I liked this book! Thank you for the copy.
Was this review helpful?
Eva and Daniella meet as roommates at Belmont College in the fall of 1962. Daniella grew up in Georgetown and Eva, Atlanta. Both beautiful and smart they quickly realize they see the world through distinctly different glasses. While they are busy pledging sorority on their pampered little campus, other college students are risking their lives to fight injustice and the right to vote. After freshman year the girls transfer to Columbia, in NYC, where Daniella feels they can change the world and break out of this privileged cocoon. It is surprisingly  southern belle Eva that leans towards an extremely radical group and gets mixed up in a web of freedom fighters that turn her life upside down. Across thirty years we watch Eva and Daniella hold on desperately to their thread of friendship; through marriage and parenting, women’s lib, racism and just about anything else the author could manage to throw in the pot. This story starts strong with a college bond that is memorable and relatable and then it is strewn in a thousand different directions. After following the maze and (too) many years of characters, I was exhausted and after admitting I never liked either one of them very much to begin with, just wanted this rollercoaster to end. Sorry folks, it may have the coolest cover ever but this read did not work for me.
Was this review helpful?
With We Are All Good People Here, White has taken on thirty years of American history to show how the political and social issues of the time influence two friends differently as they weave in and out of each others' lives over three decades. 

It's an interesting premise set within a rather large time period. Unfortunately, I expected to like it more than I did. This book has a lot of is historical detail and it's evident that White spent a lot of time researching but often the book had a Nonfiction/History textbook feel while the character development felt a little neglected. 

The plot also dragged quite a bit in a few places, and I ended up taking a couple of breaks from the book (both in the first half - with one directly after the 'cat' scene). My interest picked up in the second half somewhat, but I can't say I ever, truly got invested in the story.

This is a coming-of-age story featuring two generations of women during the tumultuous political and social climate from the 1960's to the 1990's. It has an ambitious premise and includes a sometimes overwhelming amount of historical data but unfortunately it often felt like it skimmed some of the deeper 'why' questions I wanted answered. In the end, I think it tried to do too much and its disjointed telling lost me along the way.

Disclaimer:  My sincere thanks to Atria Books for providing me with a complimentary digital copy of this title in exchange for my honest review.
Was this review helpful?
My thanks to NetGalley and Atria Books for sending me an advance copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by the publisher. 

We Are All Good People Here is trying to do a lot of things, but at the forefront is an exploration of radicalization. At the beginning of the book when Daniella and Eve first meet, Daniella seems the more likely of the two to fall into a radical protest movement. She is a young Jewish woman who experiences discrimination during a formative part of her life, and she's passionate about fighting injustice against others. However, Eve, privileged, wealthy, and sheltered, has a difficult time navigating her early years away and college and all the drastic changes that come with it. She ends up being a more appealing and susceptible target for radical groups. 

Eve was endlessly frustrating to me, not just as a person, but in the way she is written. She took a long time to make sense to me as a character, as her viewpoints swing from one extreme to the next and then back again. By the end of the book, I came to understand her as a person who defines herself by those who surround her and support her at any given time. She will become a mirror and reflect their own beliefs right back at them, and it becomes difficult to fathom what, if anything, is beneath that shiny surface. 

While there was a lot of meat to this story and a lot of potential, my reading experience with it was just okay. The pacing sometimes felt a bit off and the story seemed to drag at time. But a big part of the problem is that I think the author was trying to do a little too much. Some books have loads of hot-button issues within them and they make it work. More often, it feels like the author is throwing everything at the wall to see what sticks; it does not feel organic. 

While this book fell a little flat for me, I don't regret reading it. I would recommend it to fans of books like The Help.
Was this review helpful?
This was an enjoyable book that spans two generations.

First we are firmly placed in the South in the early 60’s then slowly go through the years. At some points many years are jumped. The book is about two friends, Daniella and Eve, who meet in college as roommates, and quickly become best friends. We end up in the early 1990's.

Their friendship and lives are shown through the changing of racial prejudice and attitudes. The Vietnam war is important for a while as well. The girls want society to change and as Eve was the most naive about the prevailing situations she also became the most dedicated. 

Overall the book was decent, but sometimes I felt it was too ambitious for the scope. There are moments of detail, of specific situations, but they are fleeting and brief, and may not have been the best scenes to highlight. Perhaps I’m someone who enjoys generational novels to be longer and more in depth. This is not the first book that bothered me in this way, seemingly too cursory.

Also, the book has several characters (not just Eve) changing their fundamental beliefs rather easily. It didn’t help me with the believable factor. 

The book for me was a solid 3.5 stars, rounded up
Was this review helpful?
We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White is a highly recommended multi-generational drama that follows two college roommates over three decades.

The narrative begins in the radical 60's. Daniella Gold, from Georgetown, was raised by a Jewish father and a Methodist mother as a middle-class, liberal Unitarian. When she attends Belmont College in 1962, her roommate is Eve Whalen. Eve grew up as a privileged daughter of an old-money Atlanta family. Despite their different backgrounds, the two young women became best friends. For the first time, Eve actually notices prejudice and tries to improve conditions for their college house maid, but instead the results are harmful and ruinous. Daniella experienced prejudice before and continues to when she was told none of the sororities on campus would ask her to pledge due to her Jewish father. Eve, who had never experienced any prejudice, supports her and refuses to pledge in support of Daniella. They both transfer to Barnard College in NYC for their sophomore year.

At this time the two become more deeply involved in social issues and expand their awareness of the injustice and prejudice in the South. They also grow apart as Eve becomes more radical while Daniella works with others to bring about change and pursues her education. Daniella earns a law degree and marries. Eve takes up with a violent, radical anti-establishment, underground group and the two lose touch. When Eve is involved in a destructive tragedy, she turns to Daniella to overcome her radical past. The novel then jumps to the daughters of the two friends.

White excels at capturing the history, events, time, and place of the decades involved and covers the gamut of social injustices, racism, diversity, family, the South, history, religion, and the complexities of life. Starting with the sixties and moving through the decades to the nineties, the questions of social consciousness and morality continue to the end. If it sounds like it is a whole lot to cover, it is and although she does a very good job, it is almost too much to cover with any degree of serious insight. This means you have to go with the flow and follow the plot and the very basic social ramifications of the decades as presented to appreciate the novel. In reality, the entire time span is too complex to be captured in so few pages.

The quality of the writing is outstanding. The narrative is best viewed as women's fiction and a character study of the lives of these two women and their daughters. At the beginning of the novel when Daniella and Eve are well developed characters, but we lose this later in the novel when the focus shifts to their daughters. In some ways this was a regrettable choice as it makes only the early years of a woman's life as an interesting time. Sure we get glimpses of their lives, but lose the close contact with the characters.

In a chapter when Eve is radicalized, there is an incident with a cat that... (shaking head) is very hard to stomach and may be difficult for animal lovers to overcome. I hate having this scene in my head and I even skimmed through it after I realized where it was going.

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of Atria Books.
Was this review helpful?
I tried a couple of times to read this story but it just wasn’t for me. The divisive politics and injustice in today’s climate has made me weary and my eyes gloss over reading a book full of social injustices/issues. Please accept my apology for requesting this book when I didn’t fully understand the meat of the story.

p.s. I did not post this elsewhere. And sorry I had to rate at one star. Netgalley won't allow me to submit this comment to you without providing a star value.
Was this review helpful?
Rating: 4.5 stars 

Review: I loved this book! Most of the story is set in Atlanta so I loved reading about the characters at places that I know. I also found myself googling some places that I didn’t recognize to sometimes find out they no longer exist (So sad Oxford books doesn’t exist anymore). However, I don’t think you have to be from Atlanta to enjoy this book. 

I felt transported to the 1960’s and to the various years the story covers. The writing and detailed descriptions are so amazing! I loved how Susan didn’t just try to write about everything that was happening during that time but instead focus on specific situations/experiences that impacted the characters deeply.

The book covers so many important topics such as how much we are impacted by the moments we are in and by the people we surround ourselves with, race, friendship and the choice of forgiveness. In addition, the story covers the topic of ideological purity (no matter which side you are in) and how dangerous it is. Even though the story is set in the 1060s and 70s it makes you think about the current political situation.

Daniella and Eve’s friendship is so raw and honest. You don’t always agree with their decisions, but you get to see why they make those decisions and the impact of the time period and what they were surrounded by. It is very easy to judge but it makes you think what you would do in certain situations. It makes you think what you would have done had you lived during the 1960s and 70s political movements. You get to see how two different women living in the south react to various historical events and even the impact this has on their daughters. Even though they have similar political beliefs it takes them in two completely different directions. The second part of the book you get to see a different POV, this was brilliant as it gives you a different perspective of Eve and Daniella’s relationship.

You can tell there was so much research put into this story. I’m always so interested in history but at the same time I love reading fiction so much (that’s why I tend to read a lot of historical fiction) so it felt like Susan did the work for me, she did all the research and created an amazing fictional story that’s much more enjoyable than just reading a history book. I didn’t know much about the Mississippi Summer project and reading about it in this book made me want to learn more.

I got to hear Susan talk at her book launch event here in Atlanta and that took this book to the next level for me. I was able to finish the book before the event and hearing her talk about the inspirations for the book, the research she did and how her faith is reflected on this book, gave certain aspects of the book a different meaning to me. I am so lucky I got to go to this event and meet Susan. 

This is my IRL book club pick for next month (I’m ahead of the game and already read it!) and I think its perfect. There are so many topics for discussion. 

 Thank you so much to Atria books for the free copy in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
We Are All Good People Here is a story that spans 30 years and tells the story of a strong female friendship and bond.  Daniella and Eve meet in their first year of college and are roommates.  Eve is a two time legacy of this school and sorority Fluer.  Daniella comes from an educated family and is moving to the south for the first time.  Her father is Jewish but she was raised Unitarian.  The story begins with your typical Rush and Daniella is blackballed because of her last name and Eve ends up fighting for her.  In the end they both leave the school.  What happens after is a roller coaster ride.  Daniella starts to be an activist with the civil rights movement and leaves Eve behind.  They do work through their issues, and become extremely close again.  However, Eve does have a secret that haunts her. 

Part 2 begins shortly after and now the story jumps forward to the 1980's and is now narrated by Daniella's daughter.  Eve and Daniella's daughters are close, even being raised by the same nanny.  You get to watch them grow and see their friendship through their adolescence.   In High School, Eve's secret comes to haunt the daughters.  

This was a tale of two different books for me.  I found the story of Eve and Daniella intriguing and really enjoyed it, then as soon as Part 2 began, it started to lose me. The change of POV's was not necessary at all.  I felt I had this close relationship with Eve and Daniella and then all the sudden there was an intruder, that I was never able to connect with.  If you have read my previous blogs you know I crave that connection with the characters.  

Overall it was ok.  The writing was good, but for me this was a tale of two halves.  Part 1 so good, Part 2 zero connection. 

Thank you NetGalley and Atria Books for an Advanced Reader's Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Was this review helpful?
4 stars - Definitely a solid read for me.

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
Was this review helpful?
I received an Advanced Reviewer Copy of We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White from the publisher Atria books  through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

What It’s About: This is a story that follows two best friends Eve and Daniella, both liberal girls at college in the 1960's, however Eve becomes radicalized while Daniella practices a more traditional form of liberalism. The story follows them from their college days to their daughters' college days. 

What I Loved: This book is brain candy and the type of thing I devour.  Complex female friendship? Check. Questions about privilege and oppression? Check. Questions about your own biases? Check. Questions about free thought and radicalization? Check, check. A book about mothers and daughters? Check. This book is addicting, you want to know what will happen to the characters and what they are really thinking but it also causes you to really think about what it means to be a feminist, an ally, and how important free thought is and how you can move between different fractions. I loved this one! 

What I didn’t like so much: There's not much I didn't like but some elements that frustrated me were certain avenues the story took particularly the character of Eve, though to avoid spoilers I won't fully explain. I'm not sure I liked the message. 

Who Should Read It: People looking for brain candy. People looking for stories set in Civil Right Era/Vietnam about liberalism. People who want a multi decade literary novel. 

General Summary: A story of two best friends whose paths diverge and converge over the years.
Was this review helpful?
Lots of books about the 1960s seem to be coming out lately! This one is about a pair of roommates and how their lives intersect and turn out. I felt like the era, while it seemed authentic, was a little too researched feeling. The later parts of the book (when I think the author actually was alive or older during) seemed a lot more natural.
Was this review helpful?
This book had a lot of ground to cover - a span of 30 years.  For the most part, the author did a good job of conveying the prevailing issues of the times.  There were bits and pieces with which I could identify - like women in the workforce expected to quit and have babies, the college years with prejudices and superficial events.  I couldn't identify with the radical parts of the book although, of course, I was familiar with their actions through news reports through the years.

It was odd - I didn't feel like I really 'connected' with any of the characters.  I had no sympathy whatsoever with Eve after the cat incident (and sure wish authors would stop using that type of scene to prove their points!)  The characters of the daughters seemed almost like afterthoughts - just vehicles to include some more contemporary issues like date rape.

I don't mean to sound critical - - I did enjoy the book for the most part.  Just not as much as I expected to.
Was this review helpful?