- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Berkley Trade (July 1, 2014)
- ISBN: 0425272028
- Source: Publisher
The end of World War II was a pivotal time in our nation’s history. Despite the struggle and loss brought on by the War, change was in the air, amid feelings of uncertainty intermingled with hope. New York City’s Grand Central station was the starting point to so many: soldiers returning from war, wives and family members reuniting with their loved ones, individuals ready to embark upon a new beginning, a fresh start. Bustling with thousands of people passing through it daily, it is also the site of so many emotions: love, loss, and heartbreak.
In Grand Central, a collection of short stories from some of the hottest author’s of women’s fiction (Alyson Richman, Jenna Blum, Sarah McCoy, Melanie Benjamin, Sarah Jio, Erika Robuck, Kristina McMorris, Amanda Hodgkinson, Pam Jenoff, Karen White), each entry focuses on one of these stories of reunion or, in some cases, separation. Ten stories in total, all sharing the same space and time. The moment I heard of this collection, months ago, I knew it would be brilliant. I was not at all let down.
Each set of characters we are introduced to come from vastly different backgrounds. Women pilots, abused wives about to reunite with the husband that beat them, young women about to start a fresh new life…seemingly very different but all holding on to one thing in common: hope.
I’m not going to go through and break down each story; I feel readers should go in as blind as possible without any hint as to what is to come. Just know that it is simply brilliant, emotional, and breathtaking. I’m not a fan of touchy-feeling, emotional reads. Yet Grand Central evoked these very feelings from me, leaving me feeling fulfilled, wanting to know more about each of these young women.
Yet what stands out to me most about this novel was actually unexpected and profound. One evening, my teen son asked what I was reading. I began to tell him; I barely got out more than World War II and Grand Central station. He asked to read part of the book…and he read it all. I was certain he was going to come back to me in a matter of moments, turned off by the female characters or their stories. The following day, I took it from him so I could peruse my notes and write my review. Inside, I found post it notes he’d left me, with comments like “This is so sad” and “I didn’t know about this!” or “I want to talk about this.” I was absolutely sold on this novel the first time I read it, but after reading his comments I reread it, wanting to relive the experience as he did. And we talked, for hours about women pilots, pioneers in that field, of the Lebensborn Program in which young women were given the opportunity to have children in secret, children who would be whisked away and raised by the SS. This collection of short stories granted me this opportunity with my son, one I will never forget.
I can continue to rave about this book for hours, honestly. Instead, I will close with my highest of recommendations. Truly, a must read for fans of all types: fans of historical fiction, descendants of those who fought in the War, for individuals looking for a truly dynamic collection of short stories. This is one you will want to talk about, I guarantee. Highly, highly recommended.