Often when I hear of a book, I’m so exited to have it NOW that I order it as an ebook. Grand Central is a book worth holding in your hand. The paper, the roughened edges, the gorgeous sepia-colored cover, bring you back to Postwar America, with the terrible loses and bittersweet reunions.
Bestselling authors Melanie Benjamin, Jenna Blum, Amanda Hodgkinson, Pam Jenoff, Sarah Jio, Sarah McCoy, Kristina McMorris, Alyson Richman, Erika Robuck, and Karen White worked hard in their stories to integrate history with passionate fiction. So much to learn in these stories. Before reading Karen White’s The Harvest Season, I had no idea that German POWs were used as free farm labor in the south. And I had heard that some Jews had escaped the Russian pogroms by migrating to Asia, but to actually meet Ella coming to New York from the Hongku District in Shanghai in Pam Jenoff’s Strand of Pearls is a delightful surprise. And yes, I’d heard of the German girls who were housed for the purpose for having sex with German soldiers in order to propagate the “master race,” but to meet Cata in Sarah McCoy’s, A Branch of Hazel, is to know the experience with intimacy and horror.
The stories echo each other, not only having a starting place in Grand Central, but some of the characters appearing in someone else’s story, even if it’s only to drop a suitcase. As the book progresses, you begin to hope to see your favorite characters again, no matter how small a role they play.
Grand Central, Berkeley Books, New York, 2014, 356 pp.
No, sorry, you can’t borrow this book from me. I’m keeping it around. 🙂