Thursday, January 31, 2019
First sentence: She lies sprawled among the dead who carpet the frozen mud flats, time slipping past, her thoughts dissolving. The last of her is leaking away as the angel of death hovers above, so close now. So close that she can feel him peeling away her essence.
Premise/plot: What if Anne Frank had survived? That is the premise of David Gillham's new book Annelies. The first third of the novel--roughly--novelizes the time Anne Frank spent with her family in hiding. The novel also briefly tells of her cruel days in the concentration camps. But, for the most part, the novel gives us alternate history. What if Anne Frank survived until the concentration camp was liberated. What if she returned to Amsterdam and was reunited with her father? What would her story--her journey, if you will--look like? How would she have settled back down into living life?
My thoughts: I love the premise of this one. I'm relatively new to this what-if genre of literature. The question is worth asking, in my opinion. Gillham's Anne felt a little older, but not too much so. She is definitely not the same Anne readers know and perhaps love. She is haunted/traumatized by her time in the concentration camp and near-death experience. Literally. It is like her sister never left her side. This Anne is hungry for life and new experiences yet angry too.
I think my favorite part of the novel was the ending which was set in 1961. (We flash forward from 1946 to 1961 to get an ending worthy of a bow.) If you want to know, look below the spoiler alert.
But did I like this one? really like it? love it? I can't say that I did more than like it. I found it interesting. Yet I didn't find it as compelling as The Diary of A Young Girl. Also as much as I love the idea of loving the ending--it seems like the author skipped over how Anne grew up and got to that peaceful, content place in life. Because when we left her in 1946 she was still in full-angst-mode. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. She's endured/suffered/witnessed too much. She's traumatized no other word for it. And the world still wasn't all that welcoming or supportive to the Holocaust victims that survived.)
Is the Diary of a Young Girl powerful and compelling and heartbreaking BECAUSE Anne died at a young age? because she died at the hands of the Nazis? Think carefully before you answer. All voices--all stories--have worth, have value. All should be known. Those that survive. Those that died. All should be remembered.
Diary of a Young Girl was still published. Anne Frank is answering fan mail. We get to read the correspondence. It's the best possible ending that one could hope for. The real Anne's dream come true--being a writer, being famous.
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews