Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion

Written by Alyson Richman Amanda Hodgkinson Erika Robuck Jenna Blum Karen White Kristina McMorris Melanie Benjamin Pam Jenoff Sarah Jio Sarah McCoy
Review by Amy Watkin

This collection of ten stories is remarkably varied, though they all speak of the same date and place in history: September 21, 1945 at Grand Central Station, New York City. Each story holds up well, but a few highlights include Karen White’s “Harvest Season,” Kristina McMorris’ “The Reunion,” and Alyson Richman’s “Going Home.” In “Harvest Season,” Will Claiborne returns from war to unexpectedly meet his ex-girlfriend at Grand Central who will bring him back to a home he barely recognizes. The love of his life married his brother, and now his father is unable to run the farm and Will is forced to confront disparities between his life, then and now. McMorris’ tale is about female pilots during World War II, and an extraordinary friendship that is by turns heartbreaking and fulfilling. “Going Home” by Richman covers two immigrant survivors whose paths cross with romantic and breathtaking uncertainty.

The writing throughout the collection is consistently solid; each story engages readers immediately and leaves them feeling as if they’ve known the characters for years. One drawback is that the themes and events of the stories are by and large fairly heavy (domestic abuse, concentration camp survivors, war veterans’ bad experiences, Hollywood’s manipulation of young girls, etc.) so reading them back to back can be somewhat depressing. That said, the stories are so good that readers will want to keep reading, despite the deep topics.