Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:
A powerful and deeply humane new novel that asks the question: What if Anne Frank survived the Holocaust?
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.
As Anne 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.
" ... What if Anne Frank survived the Holocaust? The year is 1945, and Anne Frank is sixteen years old. Having survived the concentration camps but lost her mother and sister along the way, she reunites with her father, Pim, in newly liberated Amsterdam. But it's not easy to fit the pieces of their life back together"
Reviews provided by Syndetics
Library Journal Review
Gillham (City of Women) has given Annelies Marie Frank (1929-45) the life so brutally taken from her, in the process honoring all the "Annes" who were lost in the Holocaust. In a less assured author's hands, a novel based on the premise that Frank survived the concentration camps would be in very bad taste; however, Gillham's beautifully crafted novel is a respectful tribute to the creative and passionate writer who died so young. Anne and her troubled relationship with the only other member of her family to survive, her beloved and formerly revered father "Pim," is sympathetically conveyed, as is the horrible guilt haunting the survivors. The author aims to stick to the facts as much as possible, basing the story before the annex on exhaustive research. Once Anne returns to Amsterdam after the war, Gillham brings in new characters as well as real people from Anne's diary, such as their protector Miep Gies. Frank's life thereafter is so vividly realized that readers will have to keep reminding themselves this is fiction. VERDICT Highly recommended for admirers of literary historical fiction such as Kristin Hannah's The Nightingale and Martha Hall Kelley's Lilac Girls. [See Prepub Alert, 7/30/18.]-Elizabeth Safford, Boxford Town Lib., MA © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Publishers Weekly Review
What if Anne Frank had survived the Holocaust? That's the premise in Gillham's well-researched yet disappointing second novel (after City of Women), which ably depicts Anne's life prior to, during, and immediately following the time her family and others were hiding in the space above her father's workplace. Scenes of the packed train to the concentration camps; the despicable conditions she endured alongside her mother and her sister, Margot, after being separated from her father; and her final days with Margot are all harrowing. What falls short is the portrayal of Anne after she survives and comes home. An angry, guilt-burdened young woman, she hangs on to so much fury that the constant bickering with her father and everyone else in her new life become repetitive. That it takes 300 pages for Anne to learn her father has the precious diary she thought was lost forever is also a distraction. Nevertheless, as Anne comes into her own as the world-famous writer she aspired to be, Gillham skillfully traces her trajectory in handling survivor's guilt, transformed from a person fueled with rage and revenge to one who finally understands she can live her life as fully as she can and honor the dead by using her diary to teach the world about her experiences. It's a noble effort, but this novel never lives up to the promise of its premise. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Anne Frank died at Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in 1945, just shy of her sixteenth birthday. Her world-famous diary gives powerful voice to the unmitigated horror of the Holocaust, and the hope that flourished despite it. Gillham's (City of Women, 2012) novel treads perilous territory: it imagines Anne as a survivor returning home. Gillham conjures a convincing atmosphere for postwar Amsterdam, though Anne is virtually unrecognizable. The girl who wrote I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart is transformed into a roiling mass of outrage, plagued by the apparition of her dead sister, Margot, and unkind to those who love her most. Some may find this deeply troubling, possibly offensive, even as Gillham contrasts Anne's anger with the attitude of other survivors, notably her father, who cautions that vengeance only causes more pain. He vows to put aside the past, live well, and love those remaining. These conflicting viewpoints center the novel, giving it relevance in today's rage-driven culture, especially as Margot warns: Words have power. . . . You should be careful how you use them. --Bethany Latham Copyright 2018 Booklist
Kirkus Book Review
After delving into the moral complexities faced by Berliners during World War II (City of Women, 2012), Gillham creates an alternate reality in which Anne Frank survives the Holocaust.Gillham faces an impossible challenge in fictionalizing Anne Frank's life before and during her time in hiding. Readers of her diary (and who isn't one?) have already experienced a more vividly illuminating account of Anne's arguments with her mother, her ambivalence toward her older sister, Margot, her adoration of her father, Pim, her complicated relationship with Annex-mate Peter and his family, even her ambition to be a writer; Gillham's insertion of quotes from the diary only heightens the contrast between its artless eloquence and this clunky retelling. Once the Nazis discover the Franks, there is no diary to rely on for comparison. Instead the novel offers standard, if painfully accurate, concentration-camp tropes of suffering and sacrifice. The real Anne and Margot died of typhus at Bergen-Belsen. Fictional Anne recovers in British-occupied Germany after liberation, then returns to Amsterdam to reunite with Pim in what should be a joyful moment but is undercut by "a bite of fury." While what happens to Anne's diary drives the plot, the emotional and ethical trauma suffered by survivors of wartime atrocity is the central theme. All the postwar characters, Jewish and gentile, struggle to overcome their past. Anger and survivor's guilt storm within Anne. Margot's ghost has become her constant companion. In one particularly powerful scene, Anne remains jealous over a sweater Margot received in Auschwitz instead of her but also recalls how Margot and their mother sacrificed transfer to a safer work camp because Anne was too sick to go with them. Anne's hostility to Pim's new wife and suspicion of everyone else in Amsterdam control her behavior until she faces the anger she directs toward herself.Gillham takes a brave risk in turning an icon of goodness into a bitter, troubled survivor to show the emotional crises faced by Holocaust survivors, although flat-footed storytelling weakens the impact. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.