Author: David R. Gillham
Publish Date: January 15, 2019
What's the Story?:
From Goodreads.com: "The year is 1945, and
Anne Frank is sixteen years old. Having survived the concentration
camps, but lost her mother and sister, she reunites with her father,
Pim, in newly liberated Amsterdam. But it’s not as easy to fit the
pieces of their life back together. Anne is adrift, haunted by the
ghosts of the horrors they experienced, while Pim is fixated on
returning to normalcy. Her beloved diary has been lost, and her dreams
of becoming a writer seem distant and pointless now.
struggles to overcome the brutality of memory and build a new life for
herself, she grapples with heartbreak, grief, and ultimately the freedom
of forgiveness. A story of trauma and redemption, Annelies honors Anne
Frank’s legacy as not only a symbol of hope and perseverance, but also a
complex young woman of great ambition and heart.
Anne Frank is a
cultural icon whose diary painted a vivid picture of the Holocaust and
made her an image of humanity in one of history’s darkest moments. But
she was also a person—a precocious young girl with a rich inner life and
tremendous skill as a writer. In this masterful new novel, David R.
Gillham explores with breathtaking empathy the woman—and the writer—she
might have become."
My Two Cents:
"Annelies" is an alternative history that looks at what would happened if Anne Frank, much remembered for her diary who was a victim of the Bergen-Belsen death camp during World War II, would have stayed alive and returned back to the Netherlands after the war ended. Anne Frank's diary is beloved worldwide and her diary continues to stand a valuable window into the lives of those who witnessed World War II.
Alternative histories can be tricky, especially when they take on well-known people. We all know what happened to Anne and the story of how her diary got published is fascinating. It is hard to write a different end for an end so ingrained into our collective memories. Anne Frank is incredibly well-known and her voice through her diary is distinctive. I thought that Gillham did a good job in this homage to her. To me, he captured her voice and gave her a fascinating alternate ending.
Had she lived, Anne would have still been quite young when the war ended. Much of this book is about survivor's guilt. In the book, Anne still loses her mother and sister in the concentration camp. She comes back home to an Amsterdam that is still not particularly welcoming in many ways. She wonders endlessly about why she was saved when so many other people didn't make it. Gillham does a great job of capturing her innermost thoughts and turmoil as she comes to terms with her new reality.
This was a great story that had me wondering "what if."
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