Paperback, 368 pages
On Amazon and on Kobo
Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion is a collection of short stories by a number of great authors from Karen White to Sarah McCoy and Pam Jenoff in which the linchpin is Grand Central Station in New York City. What makes this collection a solid five stars (a designation I never use in reviews) is the connections — small as they may be — between the stories and characters. You’ll find one character from a story early on is in the background and evokes an emotion in a character in a story later on. This collection is so strong and examines that various aspects of reunion and love after World War II — whether that is love between father and daughter or an instant connection between strangers in a train station.
From “Going Home” by Alyson Richman
“But no matter the style, the clocks all gave a sense that one had to keep moving, and Liesel liked this. It enabled her to focus on her responsibilities. When she wasn’t dancing, she was sewing. And when she wasn’t sewing, she was dancing, either at her ballet studies or performing at the supper clubs that helped pay her bills.” (page 14)
In these talented ladies’ hands, Grand Central comes to life with the bustling passengers on their way to trains and coming from trains and the subway, the people earning a living with their art in the hallways, and those waiting for their soldiers to return from war. World War II was a pivotal time in history, but it also was the last time that the country was truly united behind a cause — the cause against a pervasive evil that must be vanquished. These stories are about what happens when that cause is complete and those who fought and those left behind have to pick up what’s left of their lives. What does it mean to be lucky, especially when you are all that’s left of your family — like Peter in “The Lucky One” by Jenna Blum? Or what does a mother do after the Lebensborn program ends when her children are gone and the Nazis are vanquished in Sarah McCoy’s “The Branch of Hazel.”
From “The Harvest Season” by Karen White:
I glanced down at my ruined hands, thinking of Johnny and all the boys in the county who would never be coming home. I wanted desperately to hold on to this moment for Will, to allow him to believe that while he’s been away we’d held on to the life he remembered so he could slip back into it like a familiar bed. But time could not be fenced no matter how hard we tried.” (page 336)
Some of these men and women face pivotal moments in their lives in Grand Central Station, while others are merely passing through onto that moment that will change their lives forever, but all together these are tales of strong people living beyond the hurt of the past to seek out the hope of the future. Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion is stunning, an emotional collection tied together by love, sadness, loss, and Grand Central Station. No matter who passes through their lives, there is an indelible impression left behind.
22nd book for 2014 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.
15th book (WWII) for the 2014 War Challenge With a Twist.