Forbidden love, all because of racial inequality, is at the focus of Reunion, a poignant love story that spans decades and tugs at the heartstrings.
We first find the central character of Lauren Wilson in 1920s Harlem. The granddaughter of an emancipated slave, she is bi-racial. She works at a fashion shop and as a singer in a night club, but at the moment, she’s not feeling well. When her doctor tells her she’s pregnant, she immediately knows who the father is – her true love, Dr. Charles Barnes, a white man. Charles and Lauren are deeply in love, but Lauren rejects him because of the controversy she knows a racial issue would cause. In those days, part black was the same as all black, and mixed marriages were not allowed.
Eventually, Charles marries someone else – Elizabeth, the white half-sister of Lauren.
Lauren vows to raise her child alone, without telling Charles he is the father. But several months later, Charles and Elizabeth encounter Lauren pushing a 3-month-old baby boy named Christian through Central Park. She tells them it’s a child she’s taking care of, but there’s something about the beautiful boy’s eyes, so much like Charles’ – makes him begin to suspect something.
Other characters enter the scenario – Elizabeth’s brother Johnson, who marries Lauren’s friend Linda, and eventually they and Elizabeth and Charles have children. When Elizabeth’s father passes away, Lauren’s mother Bess (who was a nanny and therefore invited to the funeral as part of “the help”) lets slip that Charles has a son. He remains in what is now an unhappy marriage because it is the proper thing to do, even though he continues to love Lauren. Then, Elizabeth is mysteriously found dead after a fall from a cliff and Charles is accused of murder.
Through the years, as the next generations mature, secrets will emerge about their true backgrounds and family connections. “Reunion” is a simple enough word, but it carries great emotion with it – sometimes joyful, sometimes bittersweet and at other times, heart-wrenching.
Each emotion is touched upon in this novel by Cassandra Lane, pen name for an industrial engineer with a definite flair for writing about love, loss and the human condition.