We Are All Good People Here by Susan Rebecca White
Atria Books: 8/6/19
eBook review copy; 304 pages
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.
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.
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.
My review copy was courtesy of Atria Books.