Judith D Collins
We Are All Good People Here
Publication Date: 8/6/2019
My Rating: 5 Stars +
Author Q&A Interview From the author of A Place at the Table and A Soft Place to Land, a gripping, multi-generational story inspired by true events that follows two best friends through their political awakenings in the turbulent 1960s—and the repercussions of their actions after their daughters encounter the secrets they thought they had buried long ago. Eve Whalen, privileged child of an old-money Atlanta family, meets Daniella Gold in the fall of 1962, on their first day at Belmont College. Paired as roommates, the two become fast friends. Daniella, raised in Georgetown by a Jewish father and a Methodist mother, has always felt caught between two worlds. But at Belmont, her bond with Eve allows her to finally experience a sense of belonging. That is, until the girls’ expanding awareness of the South’s caste system forces them to question everything they thought they knew about the world and their places in it.
Eve veers toward radicalism—a choice pragmatic Daniella cannot fathom. After a tragedy, Eve returns to Daniella for help in beginning anew, hoping to shed her past. But the past isn’t so easily buried, as Daniella and Eve discover when their daughters are caught up in secrets meant to stay hidden.
Spanning just over thirty years of American history, from the twilight of Kennedy’s Camelot to the beginning of Bill Clinton’s presidency, We Are All Good People Here perfectly resonates with today’s fraught American political zeitgeist and asks us: why do good intentions too often lead to tragic outcomes? Can we separate our political choices and our personal morals? And is it possible to truly bury our former selves and escape our own history?
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I am excited to share with you one of my favorite Southern authors, master storyteller, Susan Rebecca White, and her latest highly anticipated novel, WE ARE ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE— "cover of the year" and Top Books of 2019!🏆
A few months ago, I stumbled upon this vibrant cover, a stunning "optical illusion" and was spellbound. It drew me in. I "must" read this book. But wait, next, OMG, I noticed the author's name...Could this possibly be "the" Susan Rebecca White?
The Atlanta Southern Author I adore, who wrote A Place at the Table (LOVED), A Soft Place to Land, and Bound South (all favorites)? I read each of these books years ago (all 5 Glowing Stars) 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟. I fell in love with the author's authentic storytelling and her way of making the characters jump off the page. A Place at the Table landed on my Top Books of 2014, and have been anxiously awaiting her next book.
Immediately, I go to her profile on Amazon and, YES! it is the "same" Susan Rebecca White! Where has this gal been? Five years. (Yes, I do stalk my favorite popular authors anxiously waiting for the next book). Trust me, it is worth the wait.
You can guess I went a little "crazy" and started emailing everyone to snag an ARC copy of this book, dying to get her on my editorial schedule for a Q&A Interview, even though I had already scheduled four others for August. (thank you, Atria) A dream come true. A digital copy and a beautiful paperback copy plus a "yes" for an Interview!! Month made. 😍 Pushed the other books aside for my weekend treat. As an Atlanta gal, I have always supported Atlanta and Southern authors.
OK, now that I have told you about my obsession, I do not want to take too much time telling you how fabulous Susan Rebecca White truly is, so we can get into this interview and her latest novel. She is amazing.
I love her writing and highly recommend each of her books, but her latest book is a true "masterpiece." Her most accomplished novel yet! As with her previous books, Susan writes about the underdog, the injustices, racism, diversity, family, the South, history, religion, and the complexities of life.
Highly charged emotional topics, all her books are character driven. Different people from all walks of life come together. She does not hold back. I call this one her "grownup" real-life book—totally "radical."
As the author mentions, we can try to rewrite our history, but the truth will eventually surface, as we find in her latest novel. How women, in particular, feel the need to reinvent who they once were when they have children
WE ARE ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE brilliantly explores the lives of two young women who form a bond starting at Belmont College in the 60s, and their lives are forever changed. Often it takes one incident to ignite a movement. A gripping, multi-generational story inspired by real events that follow their friendship for years to come, even though they take different paths.
Can you imagine a debutante going underground?
From political awakening, social classes, racial, privilege, justice, causes, passions, duty, love, friendship, family, and moral divides.
The first half of the book, we follow the turbulent 70s with two women from college and beyond. (this is the era I lived through: college, marriage, children).
The second half of the book, we catch up with their daughters as the dark secrets of the past began to unravel. This novel covers an incredible period—from the early 1960s to the 1990s.
The story resonates with what we are dealing with today across America in these trying and turbulent times. Ironically, Georgia ranks among the worst states in America for women’s equality. Often you think we are going backward instead of forward.
Georgia has always been a controversial state, particularly Atlanta. I resided in Vinings, Buckhead, and Midtown and was in the media business as an associate publisher (Atlanta B&B Magazine), Black's Guide, Network Publishing, Cahners/Reed, and publisher (Primedia) for many years before relocating to South Florida full time. Atlanta will always be home for me and often meet up with my sons there which reside in NC.
Look at what is going on in the headlines at the moment: Controversial anti-abortion bill passes in Georgia State Senate. Controversial Atlanta judge hit with ethics charges by state watchdog agency. Celebrities postpone events and shows. An activist artist removes controversial art from the Atlanta beltway. Atlanta's Controversial 'Cityhood' Movement. They even have an Atlanta Controversial Topics Group. And the list goes on and on. Atlanta is diverse. Spread out, and traffic is a nightmare. It is forever changing.
Without individuals who speak up, take action, risk their lives for a bigger cause, where would our country be? As referenced in this extraordinary blending of fact and fiction, the author explores courageous woman and men who have stood on their beliefs to create change. I totally agree with one of the author's previous interviews. Atlanta is the perfect setting for these rich fictional stories.
In WE ARE ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE, the author proposes many thought-provoking questions:
Why do good intentions often lead to tragic outcomes? Can we separate our political choices and our personal morals? And is it possible to truly bury our former selves and escape our own history? She adds a new dimension. Actions have consequences.
White offers detailed historical research into the Weather Underground Organization, documentaries, and other references for additional reading. I particularly enjoyed learning more about the Mississippi Summer Project, “Freedom Summer,” and what occurred during those months and enjoyed learning more about Bob Moses and particularly, Fannie Lou Hamer.
Mrs. Fannie Lou Hamer’s role in the civil rights movement was absolutely fundamental and blown away by her continuous courage to overcome obstacles and providing a voice for others. Read More on Susan's website.
The true essence of the story, as the author so eloquently describes:
"[I] I hope that readers, no matter where they fall on the political spectrum, will recognize how dangerous ideological purity is—removed from love, removed from mercy, removed from compassion. I hope this book encourages readers to seek justice, but with love."
Indeed, you accomplished your goal and exceeded all expectations!
I cannot wait to tell everyone about this powerful book. I am a huge fan of shows such as Underground (2016), Queen Sugar, and The Good Fight, etc. Mary Flannery O'Connor would be proud! You will note many similarities here ripped from today’s headlines.
If you are new to the author's work, I highly recommend reading her previous books as well, listed below. I hope you enjoy reading as much as I did and look forward to your thoughts.
PS. Since these are some of my long-time favorite Southern authors, please take a moment to review the recent feature in Atlanta Magazine, Scribes of Summer. Atlanta authors talk about their latest books and invite us inside the writer’s life.
Congrats, Susan another hit!
A special thank you to Atria Books and NetGalley for an advanced reading copy.
Author Q&A Interview
“A well-paced narrative palpably evokes America's stormy past.”
"Scribes of Summer": Atlanta Magazine's May issue features a fabulous profile of six Atlanta authors, including Susan.
"I loved this book. In Susan Rebecca White’s gem of a novel, she weaves together a captivating story of two women who forge a bond as teenagers in the ’60s and carry that friendship through a lifetime of social and personal change."
—Emily Giffin New York Times bestselling author of All We Ever Wanted
"White’s fascinating window into history held me spellbound, watching two privileged sorority girls run headlong into the brutal history of America’s civil rights movement. This is a book with serious scope and vision, people by characters so flawed and human you can almost hear them breathing. White understands the ways that the past remains alive inside the present; she uses the intensely personal story of how a mother’s choices haunt her child to light up all the ways in which our own country remains haunted by its past. White never shies away from the hard questions, but she also never loses compassion for her flawed, fully-fleshed, oh-so-human characters. Intense, complex, and wholly immersive, WE ARE ALL GOOD PEOPLE HERE is an engrossing tale told by a writer who combines rare empathy with an exquisite eye for detail. I was blown away."
—Joshilyn Jackson, New York Times bestselling author of The Almost Sisters
“Susan Rebecca White has set down a brave portrayal of the white liberal female in her new novel We Are All Good People Here. This is a glimmering mosaic of a book, where tiny, shining pieces from the lives of two women running on parallel courses coalesce to create a stunning picture of a time and place, the fringes of a movement. In these characters, I found pieces of my friends, of myself, enough to make me care deeply and think hard, even shift uncomfortably in my seat. Read it.”
—Lydia Netzer, author of How to Tell Toledo from the Night Sky
"We Are All Good People Here asks questions like some of us may ask ourselves in these crazy times: Is it possible to separate our political choices and our values? As we grow older and as we evolve, do we ever truly escape our history?"
About the Author
Susan Rebecca White is the author of four novels: Bound South, A Soft Place to Land, A Place at the Table, and We Are All Good People Here. A graduate of Brown University and the MFA program at Hollins University, Susan has taught creative writing at Hollins, Emory, SCAD, and Mercer University, where she was the Ferrol A. Sams, Jr. Distinguished Chair of English Writer-in-Residence. An Atlanta native, Susan lives in Atlanta with her husband and son. Read More