Annelies. (A Review!)

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  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Viking
  • Publish Date: January 15, 2019

David R. Gillham’s new novel, Annelies, is 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 easy to fit the pieces of their life back together. Anne is adrift, haunted by the ghosts of the horrors they’ve 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 not only honors Anne Frank’s legacy as a symbol of hope and perseverance, but also honors 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.IMG_20190104_052311745.jpg

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Have you ever wondered what it would have been like if Anne Frank had lived? I have often wondered that, feeling that she, like millions of others, were robbed of life and we were robbed of all their potential. There has never been a question to me about Anne’s talents. I imagine she would have written many books and achieved worldwide fame, which ironically, she did anyway. Her wish of wanting to live on even after her death came true. I think her ideals would be well known. Perhaps she’d be like Malala and be a voice for the voiceless, forcing change where there needed to be some. Raising awareness and reminding the world that the Holocaust occurred and that even today, though not on the same grand scale, mass deaths occur.

This is a book that ponders that. What would it be like? We are taken from the moment where fate deals her another hand–where Death skips over her–and then into her life back in the Netherlands. Mr. Gillham did an absolutely stunning job of bringing Anne back to life. What I loved was how well researched this book was, how it was clear that he loved the subject and how he wanted you treat it with respect and a rawness that will draw tears from your eyes. I found myself emotional in several different places. I was moved by how he didn’t hide how adjusting to life would be challenging. Anne clearly has PTSD and trying to figure out why she survived weighs on her. That the ghost of her sister, Margot, visits her doesn’t help.

We see her blossom into a young woman to a woman grown, but one who is angry and confused and just emotional. Who can blame her? She has quite literally been through hell and back; she is angry and frightened. She is damaged; having experienced the absolute worst humanity has to offer. I think it was excellently written and I found myself forgetting that Anne had in fact died. I love The Diary of a Young Girl. (As pictured, my copy is well read, quite worn and much loved.) It’s raw and honest and just beautiful how despite her situation, she believed in the goodness of the world despite its ugliness. I loved seeing glimmers of that in Annelies. I think it is definitely a book you should read if you ever find yourself asking, “what if?”

I just genuinely loved this book. Absolutely stunning. Well researched, excellently written and a book that most certainly gets you feeling something as well as a stunning adaptation.

  • I’d give it ★★★★★ stars.
  • I received this in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
  • I highly recommend this to everyone!! What a book!

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Amazon || Barnes & Noble || Books-a-Million || Indie Bound

4David 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.

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