Genre: Historical/Women’s Fiction
Rating: 4.0/5.0 Stars
Main Takeaway: An uplifting, feminist read that connects generations of women. Quick, easy, and fun, I devoured this book in a day.
**I received this novel from the author and publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no compensation for this review, and the opinions expressed were not influenced by this transaction.**
It’s 1949, and Charlotte Friedman has received rejection after rejection for jobs, diminishing her dream of working in advertising. However, when a friend submits an application on her behalf for the Miss Subway competition and Charlotte is chosen as a finalist, Charlotte suddenly sees a way that she can achieve her dreams in a time when society expects her to settle down and get married. In 2017, Olivia, pitted against her mysogynistic coworker at her advertising agency to create the best ad campaign, finds the historic Miss Subway competition. Hoping to revitalize this campaign, Olivia sets out an a search for the Miss Subway winners and ultimately finds that the women of the past are not so different from herself.
Let me start off by saying that I loved this book. Like, shout-it-from-the-rooftops-loved it. I devoured The Subway Girls in one day; I read it obsessively, and when I had to put the book down and do something else my mind was incessantly consumed by Charlotte and Olivia and Rose and what would happen next. Schnall’s character development was immaculately consuming, and her story incredibly empowering.
What I loved most about this novel – besides from Charlotte and Olivia kicking ass and living their truths in their separate male-dominated versions of New York City – was how Schnall portrays through the male characters almost a full spectrum of sexism, from fully and unapologetically sexist to enablers to micro-aggressors to the almost-too-good-to-be-true man. It’s through these male characters as much as through the female ones that the reader gets a taste of just how little and how much things have changed for women over the decades.
The Subway Girls is empowering, connecting, and enlightening. The Subway Girls should be on every woman’s TBR.