I remember a woman who worked in my husband’s office. She was lovely, but always had that kind of haunted look in her eyes. It was only later that I learned she was a survivor of Auschwitz. I one day saw that number on her arm and it mesmerized me. All the horrible things she had seen and experienced and yet, here she was going to work everyday, married with children. I often wondered how or even if she slept at night.
In this book, where the premise is that Anne Frank survived, we witness a what if moment in time. Anne is reunited with her father, Pim, the ever faithful Miep, and others. The relationships, particularly with her father and his eventual new wife is at times rocky and unsteady. Anne is troubled, followed by her nightmares and seeing her dead sister, conversing with her, and haunted by a secret she is carrying. Anne searches for a reason why, why has she survived, while she harbors all those feelings that perhaps she herself has done something wrong. She is lost in a quagmire of a lost self. She blames her father, reflects often on the tenuous relationship she had with her mother, and the soreness she feels in her heart and soul. She searches for redemption and it is later on through her writing, she does find a bit of that elusive peace she desires.
What touched me most about this story, was the concept of survivor guilt which Anne and others carried. Why me, why have I lived while others perished in a reign of terror and inhumanity? We see an angry Anne searching for who it was who betrayed them, and coming to grips with that exasperation and fury that drives her body and soul. Interspersed among the story are excerpts from Anne’s diary.
“Think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.”
I wonder how much beauty, Anne would have found in today’s world where hatred is running its course? I think Anne’s hope for the future would be that each and every one of us carry beauty in our hearts and souls. What better way to honor Anne and the millions of other who lost and are losing their lives because of an ideology. I recommend this book for its beautiful and touching portrayal of life, and a tribute to a life, all lives that were tragically and inhumanely lost.
“Look at how a single candle can both defy and define the darkness.”
Perhaps we should all try to be that single candle.
Thank you to David R. Gillham, Fig Tree Books and Edelweiss or a copy of this moving tribute.
and here’s the author:
David R. Gillham is the New York Times bestselling author of City of Women. He studied screenwriting at the University of Southern California before transitioning into fiction. After moving to New York City, Gillham spent more than a decade in the book business, and he now lives with his family in Western Massachusetts. In writing this book he has spent six years researching Anne Frank and her world, immersing himself in the available material and traveling to important landmarks of her life.