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Schnall debuts with an inspiring, feminist, timely story of two women, 70 years apart, who both fight for the right to have a career, independence and love. The double narrative allows readers to understand how the characters’ paths cross and entwine; presenting a wonderful portrait of both women and the eras. Many will eagerly await each chapter to see how these woman navigate their world and strive to find happiness. Schnall bases much of her novel on the Miss Subway contest run by the MTA over 50 years ago and what a difference the contest made in women’s lives. This enjoyable, poignant tale will certainly resonate with readers of any generation.

In 1949 Charlotte dreams of completing college and working in advertising, but when her father demands she work in the family business, Charlotte fears her hopes are dead. She’s given another chance when she’s chosen as a finalist in the 1949 Miss Subway contest. Charlotte is drawn into a glamorous world with prospects of fame when she’s befriended by another contestant. But when her friend Rose betrays Charlotte’s trust, leaving her heart broken, Charlotte realizes she must make some life changing decisions. Seventy years later, Olivia is working on an ad campaign for the MTA. Olivia needs to beat her arch rival in order to impress her boss, a man she secretly loves. While researching, Olivia comes across information about the contest and fate leads her to a former Miss Subway. Olivia believes she has the perfect pitch to win the agency the contract as well as a new love interest and a future she never imagined. (ST. MARTIN’S, Jul., 320 pp., $15.99)

Reviewed by: 
Kathe Robin
4/5 stars