The Subway Girls By Susie Orman Schnall

Two women, worlds apart yet facing many of the same obstacles. Charlotte in 1949 and Olivia in 2018. This book perfectly encompassed the fact that while women’s rights and gender inequality have improved significantly…. we still have mountains to move.  


Charlotte is 21 and about to graduate from college. She dreams of being in advertising but settles for applying for typing pool positions. She has a loving boyfriend and lives at home with her parents. Her friends convince her to apply for the Miss Subway contest and when she is selected as a finalist the contest changes her life in unexpected ways.

Olivia works in a small and struggling advertising agency. At work, Olivia competes against her rival Thomas, another account executive and has a crush on her boss. The advertising agency is desperate to land an ad campaign for the NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority so Olivia must prepare a winning idea to defeat Thomas. While preparing a pitch for the NYC Metropolitan Transit Authority Olivia learns about the former Miss Subway contest.

My favorite thing about this story was the Miss Subways contest and finding out at the end of the book that it was a real thing. I loved the parallel plot lines following two likeable female characters and discovering all of the similarities and differences between them. I found the plot to be predictable but finished the novel because I was interested in seeing how it would end. I also found many things in the book to be contrived… the gay best friend, the date with Jack, and Mrs. Glasser.


I loved the idea of the book, but was ultimately let down by the predictable plot.