I'm not one for anthologies. I like to dive into a book and get a good long story out of it. But I've discovered that short stories do have a benefit, and in an increasingly busy life they can give me a bit of relief when I want to read but just can't sit down for long and enjoy a 400 page novel. And I've realized they are perfect when I'm reading in bed at night--my ability to stay awake and read more than a few pages has diminished over the past year. I'm still hoping I'll find the magic solution to getting by on 5 hours a sleep each night, yet still have oodles of energy to cruise through the day.
Grand Central is an anthology about the famous Grand Central Station in New York City, just after World War 2 has ended and servicemen and women are finding their way home. Each author--and there are 10 in all--writes a story that centers around September 20-21, 1945. Each is about the after effects of World War 2 on both civilians, survivors, and battle weary servicemen and women who just want to go home to their families. Each story is poignant and moving; from the Jewish holocaust survivor who is paraded around at fund raising events, to the British war bride and her child waiting under the big clock to greeted by her American husband, to the female pilot who struggles through her painful grief. Each story is remarkably different, but all have the same themes of love, forgiveness, and forging a new life in a very different world. So many stories echo the sentiment "don't look back, just move forward". I can't imagine how the world managed to move forward after such enormous upheaval; I guess that speaks to the courage and determination of those who lived through it all.
I think all the authors did a remarkable job with very different takes on this theme. And in the middle of it all, the Grand Central Station shines as a crossroad for so many different lives. And it speaks to the talent of the writers that in every story there are reminders of the stories you've just read; a glimpse of a previous character, an echo of a violin; the oyster bar that is a setting in many of the stories.
A great book to take with you when you can't focus on a long story, but want something you can read for a bit then put down and pick up. That is the beauty of an anthology. And it does take talent to write a fully developed short story. You'll find yourself picking this one up quite frequently!
Rating: 7/10 for talented writers who all wrote a distinctly different short story on the same theme. The characters will tug at your heart.
Available in paperback, ebook, and audio.