Annelies by David R. Gillham


David R. Gillham

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.

Start Reading….

Read Excerpt Now


Sign me up to receive news about David R. Gillham.

Place our blog button on your blog to let people know you are a member of this great program!

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.

Advance Galley Reviews

This story just wasn't quite as well executed as I hoped it would be. While it's an interesting premise, it definitely could have been better.

I was looking so forward to reading this story. Unfortunately, it just didn’t connect for me. I don’t know if it was because I was unfamiliar with the source material or if it was the style of writing. I hope to pick it up at a later time and try again, though.

Wasn't executed quite as well as I hoped, but still very intriguing overall.

This was a DNF for me. Now I’d like to point out it had NOTHING to do with the author’s ability. I think he can write. To me, I felt I was disrespecting the memory of Anne Frank. I read it about 3/4 of the way. I just couldn’t do it. I almost felt the book was disparaging to her memory. I get that HAD she lived she may very well have turned into an angry teenager. No one could have blamed her. But she did not. So speculating on how she would have acted was just disrespectful to me. She was a young girl that suffered immensely and ultimately lost her life because of some very bigoted people. To then turn around and try to guess how she would have been had she lived was a bit too much for me. The Jewish people suffered what no one should ever be made to suffer and those that did survive the atrocities, a lot of them handled it very stoically. Again, it was the subject matter and not the author’s ability. I received through the Penguin First to Reads for my review and I wish I had paid more attention to the subject matter because I’m not sure I would have chosen it. The first part of the book and their lives was very interesting and I enjoyed it but just could not read the “after” the war part.

I received an advanced copy of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. I really liked this speculative fiction about what Anne Frank's life could have been life if she would have survived the Holocaust. I didn't want to put it down once I started. The story was engaging. I liked that quotes from her diary were included. I haven't read much beyond the what you're taught in school about the Holocaust. It was heartbreaking reading about the struggles Jews faced when trying to return to normal lives.

I have always been fascinated with the life of Anne Frank and the struggles her family faced. This book told the life she could have had, had she survived. It was hard to read knowing that Anne didn't survive and that the story told by David Gillham was fiction. This book was heart breaking and heart warming. This book was a breath of fresh air and a stark contrast to how Anne truly lived. I really enjoyed this read and look forward to more books by Mr. Gillham.

This book explores the type of life Anne Frank could of had if she survived the Holocaust. It's an excellent but sad book. Well I was reading I had to tell myself that the book was fictional. That the author took a sad story and gave it a happier ending. This is the first book that I have read by this author. I'm looking forward to reading more of his books.

I was very interested in the idea of what might have happened if Anne Frank had survived but found it a little difficult to wrap my mind around some of the things in this novel. It might take me another read to really get it.

I really enjoy speculative fiction, so I was pleased to receive an ARC of this book and was not disappointed. Great work by Gillham!

I was very intrigued with what Anne Frank's life would be like if she survived. I think the author did a good job imagining what that could have looked like. Some parts I didn't find appealing, like her obsession with boys, it kind of seemed wrong to talk about, but then again, she was 16. I enjoyed reading the Author's Note and how much research he did.

Thank you to the First to Read program and the publisher for giving me the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I thoroughly enjoyed this book about what might have been had Anne Frank survived. Thought provoking...

I started with high hopes. I love the story of Anne Frank. This story reads more like a screenplay, or something trying to be a screenplay. There is tons of dialogue which is a distraction for me. I have a hard time reading books that are full of page after page of dialogue. I also found that it would switch between first and third person where Anne is concerned. I understand the thought behind the what If hypothetical type situation presented in the book but I struggled to think it was ok. I think it downplays Anne’s memory. Yes wishful thinking is nice sometimes but I just felt this wasn’t the place. Disappointed with this one unfortunately. I received a digital copy of this book from the First to Read program. This has in no way influenced my review. All thoughts are my own.

An illuminating novel about the nature of trauma and recovering from the aftermath of an atrocity. I thought it was written well and I read it quickly. While I was reading it, I wondered why Anne was pushing her father away and about her strained relationship with everyone she knew before she was taken away, but then I realized that that was how her suffering manifested. Still, the concept was a little strange to me. It's difficult to reimagine the lives of real people.

Interesting concept - not sure about the execution. This one may require a re-read for me.

I found it engaging but I'm not sure how much I enjoyed it. The subject matter is obviously heavy, focusing on Anne Frank's life had she survived the concentration camps. I have read her diary several times and was intrigued at the idea of what her life would have been like. I appreciate that Gillham portrayed her really grappling with guilt at surviving, anger at what happened, and figuring out how to move forward, rather than simply being thankful to be alive. The relationship with Pim is quite complex and it is interesting to see his struggles through Anne's eyes. Overall the writing was great but the subject matter and mood of the book just felt too heavy for me at this time, like it was trying very hard to have the right message or end of the right note.

Annalies was a hard read for me. I don’t do well with fictional writing about real people when the story is completely made up. I didn’t see Anne Frank becoming so mouthy first of all and then as the book started getting beyond her real story I just couldn’t finish. I’m sorry, this wasn’t the book for me.

5 Stars.....I absolutely loved the book Annelies, the imagined life of Anne Frank, if she had indeed survived the horrors of the Holocaust. It was beautifully written with quotes from her famous diary to enhance the fictional story of her survival and returned life to Amsterdam. Returning to Amsterdam was not easy and was full of fear for those who did return to life there. Knowing it would be very difficult, I had never really thought about what it was like to try and return to "normal" day to day life for the survivors. This book enables you to do so. I loved that the author tried to give Anne Frank back the life that was stolen from her and she so deserved to live. I recently read that 41% of today's world doesn't know what Auschwitz was. And that is the reason why authors must keep writing stories about the Holocaust and continue the effort of never forgetting. This atrocity did happen and must be remembered by all forever! Thank you to First to Read and Penguin Random House for this chilling but yet beautiful story.

Interesting concept. Hard to put down. Intriguing and entertaining read.

I had a hard time getting into this book and therefore did not finish it. It felt disjointed and was too prosey for me.

Similar to others, I was unable to get into the story. I think part of the challenge was how hard it can be to read about trauma when you have PTSD yourself. I also found the characters to be a little too one-dimensional at times. The story idea is interesting.

I found the question of what would Anne Frank be like if she'd had a different ending to be interesting, although it took away the essence of what made her so special in our real history. It was a little upsetting to consider that she might have become such an angry person. Overall, it was a very unique read that made me contemplate a whole new world.

A retelling of the true story of Anne Frank, Annelies provides the reader with an ending showing what life for Anne might have been like if she had survived the Holocaust. With excerpts from her actual diary interspersed throughout the story, the novel gives a glimpse of the young Anne as she grieves over the deaths of her loved ones and comes to terms with the ravages of war, both on herself and those she loves. I absolutely loved the author’s style of writing in this novel. The depth in which he creates Anne’s world for the reader is phenomenal. The characters were so detailed that it was easy to feel all of their emotions along with them. I will say I felt odd as I read the book. I wasn’t sure how I felt about the author rewriting history, even while it will be known as fiction. Anne Frank’s story is so powerful because of how heartbreaking the real life ending is compared to how full of life and energy her personality is in her diary. The book is exceptional, but I just can’t feel differently about this point. Overall, a good read but should be carefully thought about while reading.

Excellant book! Was hesitant to read as Anne Frank and her story are classics! But feel the author did a good job of incorporating the original story with historical fiction of “what if”.

It's difficult to know what to say about "Annelies." The whole premise -- what if Anne Frank survived? -- feels risky somehow. By fictionally extending her life, does the book exploit her legacy in any way? I'm sure this wasn't the author's intention, but the ethics of it require some thinking through, at the very least. So what of the actual story? Gilham is a truly gifted writer, capable of crafting sentences and paragraphs that are breathtakingly beautiful and deeply insightful. Yet he could have done a better job with the structure of the book. (Also, he needs to break his addiction to italics. I can't believe his editor let that go.) It's believable that Anne might have come out of the camps simmering with rage and unable to process her pain and grief -- she was no plaster-of-paris saint and never pretended to be, and what she suffered might have soured anyone. But spending some 400 pages watching her and her father have the same fight over and over again was very wearing. And I found myself dissatisfied with how this and other conflicts were ultimately resolved. Gilham displays a strong understanding of Anne and her values and especially what writing meant to her. His thoughts on how her writing still might have impacted the world had she lived make sense. I appreciated this, but I thought his story could have been better constructed.

I received an advanced e-copy of this book in exchange for a candid review. As a lover of history and recognizing that WWII-era historical fiction is very much "in" right now, I was intrigued by the premise of this story. While executed well and, I believe, in respectful honor of the Frank family and other victims of the Holocaust, I must admit that the premise and ultimate work were hard to swallow. I just never could "get into it" or root for her, despite the plot twist. Anne Frank's diary is such a beautiful and haunting memento of a moment in history - both in reference to the war, actions of the Nazis, Jewish culture, and adolescence in the 1940s, that ultimately it seems superfluous to try to build upon it. This book's handling of the aftermath of the Holocaust from the perspective of the various characters is, however, fascinating, and certainly worthy of exploration. I just wish it had not been in relation to Anne.

I did not like this book though I tried to. I felt that it was a dishonor to Ann's memory. Her diary is such a strong and important testament to the tragedy of WW 2 that I cannot accept an alternative history account based on if she survived. Based on her own writings, I do not think one can assume what life path she might have taken had she survived. It is important to keep her story as a legacy of one of the most recognized victims of the holocaust. My own feeling about Ann was that she was a more hopeful and optimist person than portrayed in this novel. I do not believe she would have been so angry even though she would have been grief stricken.

I thought it wouldn't bother me to imagine that Anne Frank had survived, but for some reason, it did. It just didn't work for me or draw me in.

Wonderful historical fiction book. Great characters. Great main ideas.

As soon as I read the synopsis for Annelies, I knew it was going to ruin me and I was right. Anne Frank has been someone I've felt connected to since I first read her diary when I was 9 or 10. She was the first Jewish person I knew who wasn't me or my family. And when you're the only Jewish kid in your whole school, finding someone you can relate to, even just a little bit, feels like the greatest thing ever. No wonder books have become a bit of an obsession for me! But what if the diary didn't end? What if Anne Frank had lived? Even the thought of it makes me teary-eyed. The story David R. Gillham has told is more than I could have ever imagined. Let's get to the review! (I don't know how to write this without spoilers, so be prepared) Synopsis (from Goodreads): 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 survives. Despite all the obstacles she faces: the Nazis, the concentration camps, disease, hunger, starvation, and death, she survives. But she is much different than the girl you thought you knew from her diary. She is traumatized. Her mother died from illness and hunger and her sister, Margot, died from illness and the conditions they were exposed to. But Anne survived. And when she makes it back to Amsterdam, she finds out she's not the only one who made it out alive. Her father, her Pim, survived as well. But finding out your not alone in this new post-war world doesn't mean a happy ending. Anne survived but now she has to figure out how to live. Amsterdam is war-torn but with the help of friends of their family, Miep and her husband, Jan, Anne and Pim find a home for a little while. Pim goes back to work at his old spice business, Anne goes back to school, but too many things have changed for everything to go back to the way it was. Remember: The Franks hid in the annex in the back of Pim's office building. So Pim and Anne going back to that building also means going back to the place they hid for months. It means going back to the place where they were found out. But what was once a place of hiding becomes almost a place of solace for Anne. She goes there when she's upset, when she needs to cry, and when she needs to get away from her father and his new wife. The Anne throughout this story is not the hopeful girl we remember. She is angry. She has rage. And of course she would. She survived the Nazis and wants to make sure she doesn't have to deal with them ever again. The first signs of antisemitism still being alive and well in Amsterdam sends chills up her spine. She obsesses over who could be the person who outed them to the Nazis. She wonders how her father can keep his optimism when they are surrounded by ghosts of a life that no longer exists. She is more than a little pissed when he decides to get married again. She takes her anger out on just about everyone but her father is her primary target. She can't understand his current decisions and when she learns of his past choices, she can barely be in the same room as him. I am so glad the author chose to show this side of her. Anne is not a 14-year-old girl anymore. She is sixteen and rebellious and filled with anger and guilt for what happened to her. We don't see enough anger in female characters and it is something I especially love in this one. Anne has every right to be angry but the people telling her otherwise have a point too. She has been in survival mode for so long that it takes her some time to learn to live again; to remember to find just one beautiful thing in a moment and cherish it without letting her anger get in the way. What we come to learn throughout the story is that Anne thinks she killed her sister. Yes, they were in concentration camps and had to deal with the daily brutality, but Anne believes the actions she took resulted in Margot's death and that is one of the reasons Margot's ghost follows her everywhere. Margot staying in the story despite being gone is possibly my favorite part of the whole book. Anne and Margot have a complicated relationship and that is extended with the use of her ghost as another character. Anne's anger and guilt make it very difficult for her to forgive. And I don't mean forgiving the Nazis. I don't believe Anne or anyone who survived the Holocaust could or should forgive the people who murdered and tortured them. This forgiveness is for Pim, for Margot, for her mother, for her friends, and for Anne herself. She needs to forgive them for not always being there to protect her and for not being perfect. She needs to forgive herself for surviving. This Anne Frank has tons of survivor's guilt and in a discussion with a rabbi in the book, he tells her how to start the process of forgiveness and living in a world that seems so broken. This is my favorite quote from the book (and one that immediately brings tears to my eyes every time) “Repairing the world is a Jewish obligation,” the rabbi says. “How? That’s the question we must all ask and answer for ourselves, Anne. This much, though, I can say: We must learn to conquer our anger. We must put our faith in the sheer beauty of God’s creation and practice repentance and forgiveness. Even if we don’t want to. Even if we don’t feel it in our hearts. Especially then. It is our duty to repair the damage we have done and therefore repair the damage done to us.” Not only must we (this is talking about Jews but I think it could be said about anyone) repair what we have done but we must try to repair ourselves from what was done to us too. That's how we thrive.  And Anne, eventually, does thrive and she does so in the only way she knows how: through writing!! I won't give away the ending but just is brilliant! Annelies is already my top book for 2019 even though I read it this year. David R. Gillham, to me, wrote a perfect book. I am incredibly biased because of my love for Anne Frank. But I'll be honest, I was very scared this was going to be bad. But it isn't. It is the story I didn't know I needed. It is the story I didn't know I was waiting for. I am giving Annelies 5 out of 5 stars. Go your copy now. I already did! Annelies by David R. Gillham comes out January 15th, 2019. Thank you so much to First to Read and Viking Press for the free early copy in exchange for my honest review.

I saw this one listed in my monthly email from First to Read and while the cover didn't really call to me at first, my eye kept going back to it. So, after the third or fourth time glancing at it, I decided to take it as a sign that I should read the synopsis. I didn't even get past the one-liner before requesting a copy, so here it is: "A powerful and deeply humane new novel that asks the question: What if Anne Frank survived the Holocaust?" I knew I absolutely had to read this book, whether it be through First to Read or after the book is released. However, I was sent an advanced digital galley in exchange for this honest review. As usual, let's have the TW/CW list before we dive in. Some of them might seem obvious given the subject matter but I'll list them anyway just in case. - anti-semitism - mentions of rape - war crimes - confinement - suicide ideation - suicide attempt - suicide - slut shaming - starvation - torture - graphic description of conditions in WWII concentration camps - accurate portrayal of PTSD - grief Anne is such an amazing character and I love what David R. Gillham has done with her. It would have been all too easy to try portraying her as just a "normal" teenager, though how could she have been after what she lived through? David R. Gillham created an Anne who could have potentially existed: one with severe PTSD and overwhelming grief. She is distraught over the deaths of her mother and sister in the camps and she doesn't know how to process those deaths or any of the other things she experienced during that time. She's incredibly three-dimensional. The secondary characters received quite a bit less development, but they were still fairly three-dimensional enough that I could imagine having a conversation with any of them. If I spoke German or Dutch, that is. I would have liked to see more development for Anne's father, Otto, simply because he was the only member of the Frank family who actually survived the war. I feel like something more could have been done with his character, though his development was thoroughly adequate. The majority of the story takes place in WWII and post-war Netherlands and Germany. Having not been to either, I can't speak to authenticity, but given that the author spent six years researching for this novel I choose to believe the accuracy of it. Each of the spaces described in the novel is done with an efficient flourish that isn't info-dumpy at all. I could easily imagine myself in the spaces, which was quite difficult at times because some of those places were less than desirable. There was a bit at the end of the novel in early 1960s New York City, though there wasn't much building there beyond a mirror, a cat, a synagogue?, and a very tall building. Still, the development of the locations in Europe were more than enough. This is one of the most difficult novels I've read this year. The story starts in 1942, which is before the Franks went into hiding. I wasn't really prepared for that? For some reason I thought the novel would begin some time after the war. I did have trouble reading some parts of Annelies and I'm certain I'm not alone in this. It was an incredibly heart-wrenching tale about a girl who went through immense horrors and somehow managed to survive. In the author's note, David R. Gillham says "In imagining a life for her had she survived, I hope to accomplish two things: to give Anne the life she was cheated of and, through telling the story of one girl, to tell the stories of all the Annes, thereby underscoring the lost potential of the millions who perished and reminding us of what we are missing in our world today because of their loss." I honestly feel like he has accomplished at least the first of these things if not both. Annelies took me through confinement and concentration camps. It took me through PTSD and grief. It took me through hope and loss and love. I recognize that not everyone will be able to read this novel and some people might not be interested in 'what if' stories or historical fiction the way I am. But if you are I definitely recommend this one.

I received this book from First to Read for an honest review. This book is a fictional account based on the idea "What if Anne Frank had lived?". While I appreciate the author's trying to write what he felt Anne would be like, I did not like the portrait he painted of a "Survived" Anne. Based on her diary, I did not feel that Anne would be so angry and vengeful especially to her beloved Pim. I did enjoy the book and liked the idea of what if she had lived, I felt that she would not be as the author described. The book was well written and well edited. The survivor's guilt that the author showed Anne as having I can believe could have happened but I do not feel that Anne would have been quite so angry if she had survived the camps. An interesting idea for a book but the character of Anne could have been softened more.

One of my absolute favorite genres of writing is Alternative History. The great "What if?" always draws me in and leaves me wanting more. This couldn't be more true than with this book. David R. Gillham did a fantastic job giving Anne Frank what was cruelly denied her, an adulthood.

David R. Gillham acknowledged that he was taken with the story of Anne Frank, even traveled to Amsterdam, and the "camps" to try to encapsulate Anne. I jumped at the idea of reading how Anne Frank would be, had she survived the concentration camp, because I thought of her (and again think of her) as the 13-15 year old in her diary. I learned a lot about the time, her father, Meip, and the others in her diary through a traveling exhibit many years ago in Houston. I have visited the annex in Amsterdam. I felt a kinship with the young author, Anne Frank. Her story, so poignant, so truthful, so universally relatable to ALL teenage girls is one of love, hope, honesty, sadness. The take away from Anne's diary is hope, growth, silliness, horror, LIFE. To say I liked this book, would be difficult. There were parts of the book I really felt were insightful, yet the overall "Emotional Feel" of the book left me cold. I could not imagine Anne Frank becoming the hateful young woman who survived Bergen Belsen; not knowing her story from her diary, and her father's insurance that her words would live on. Gillham's idea was a good one, too bad he chose to invent a loathing adult Anne Frank, instead of one who was able to move on, while embodying the playful, insightful young woman she was.

This isn't a review yet, but I've exhausted every other option of trying to reach anyone at FtR. The "contact us" link gets me nowhere. My download of this book went wonky (please, please can you use something other than Adobe Digital or at least offer another access option?) and the link has expired. Is there any way to get it re-activated?

I read about 30 pages of this before I stopped; the writing didn't draw me in. I would like to pick it up and try reading it again later, but it's just not speaking to me right now.

When it comes to writing a novel like this, about a much beloved person, you have to do it with a lot of grace. And I think this book accomplishes that. The thing is, I can't reconcile the girl whose diary we've all read and loved with the one presented in this book. The book begins around the same time Anne receives her diary. Her day-to-day life is dramatized for the reader. Then the book transitions to the time in the attic. We get snippets of further insight. And then, the camps. A glimpse at Anne struggling to survive. Finally, back home with her father. The Anne that leaves the camp is not the same optimistic, bright-eyed young girl from her diary. Instead, we get a guilt-ridden and extremely bitter Anne. Because of all the atrocities and pain she has suffered, Anne has a big chip on her shoulder. This interpretation of Anne hurt. Her voice is different. Her ideals are all different. She is changed. Haunted. In a way, I get it. I can see someone doing a complete reversal like this. But Anne Frank? I feel it does a disservice to her memory. Her relationship with her beloved Pim is strained (to say the least). And events are changed and completely dramatized... If the author had instead written the book about a fictional character, I think this story would have, personally, worked better. Rating: 3/5 stars *Thank you FirsttoRead for providing an ARC in exchange for a review. All opinions expressed are my own and based solely on the book*

"...the swinging bookcase that is the line of demarcation between freedom and constraint... between life in the actual world and this strange limited existence in hiding". Anne Frank had "learned to depend on words to see herself more clearly...she confesses only to the page, because if people aren't patient, paper is." Such are the thoughts of Anne Frank, the ruminations conveyed in "Diary of a Young Girl". Anne's diary provided her with an outlet for her innermost feelings while her family was in hiding in "Het Achterhuis" (The House Behind), the rear annex of Otto Frank's office building. In August 1944, the Frank family were rounded up and sent to the Punishment Barracks, the crime,..."having tried to save themselves by going into hiding". What if Anne Frank had survived the Holocaust? "Annelies" by David R. Gillham is a historical novel imagining Anne and her papa, "Pim" as sole survivors of "Het Achterhuis". Anne's diary expressed typical teenage clashes with her mother, jealousy of her grounded, beautiful sister Margot, but, "there is no one on earth who can make her feel as safe and loved as her papa". Imagine Anne surviving typhus and waking up in a displaced person's camp and her amazement finding out that her beloved Pim, having survived as well, was living in Amsterdam. Both Pim and Anne must deal with ghosts and survivors guilt. Anne's guilt manifest's itself in an overpowering "fight or flight" reaction. Pim's attempt to protect Anne feeds into her angst and belligerence. This reader tended to waffle between feeling that Anne's diary should remain her sole testament as compared to an eye opening, tragic, concentration camp experience, as imagined and based on historical documents and eyewitness accounts, followed by an imagined life as a displaced person. Anne would have lived with ghosts, horror and unimaginable darkness while trying to acclimate herself to life in post-war Amsterdam. What innermost thoughts and feelings would Anne now convey as a writer? Thank you First to Read- Penguin Random House and David R. Gillham for the opportunity to read and review "Annelies".

An interesting take on an infamous story. Hard to read but I imagine this was true for many. Thanks for the opportunity!

I have spent countless hours reading about the Holocaust, World War II, the aftermath - and I know a good bit about Anne Frank. I didn't realize this book was going to take the direction it did - to me, it was almost disrespectful. Anne didn't survive and although I understand the desire to wonder who she might have been had she survived, I feel like this author was attempting to show the PTSD Anne would have experienced but it comes across as sensationalism and taking advantage of the memory of someone whose legacy means so much to so many.

Anne Frank’s story has remained poignant since her diary was published 70 years ago. She is perpetually frozen at age 13 in photographs, her innocent gaze and her bright smile a testament for all that was lost and corrupted in World War II and the Holocaust. Her diary reflects an intelligent, emotional, and precocious young woman whose life was stolen at the hands of the most extreme prejudice and hatred. I have been fascinated with Anne’s story since I was a young girl. The possibilities of what could have been for her and the other occupants of the Secret Annex have been tragic and tantalizing. David Gillham takes his research and his curiosity and paints a picture of Anne the reluctant survivor of Bergen Belsen, her anger and sadness a wound that rips open again and again across the pages. I found myself crying at certain scenes for how emotionally charged they were, particularly one of the most climactic scenes near the end of the book where Anne tells her father that all she wants him to do is let the idea of his little girl go. Anne’s fictional survival was full of trauma and coping with survivor’s guilt, intense grief, and dealing with the ghosts of her past following her. While we have no way of knowing how Anne would have coped with surviving the Holocaust, I still found this to be a believable interpretation of how she would handle the aftermath. Gillham does a wonderful job taking the foundation of Anne’s diary and research of her life and those who knew her to build a rich story with realistic characters and a war-torn environment. The only thing that threw me off was the awkward pacing of time passing in the novel. Very little time is spent discussing Anne’s time pre-hiding, and then suddenly they’re in hiding, and then suddenly Anne is home, and then the rest of the novel takes its time describing Anne’s difficulties coping with the fact that she and her father are the only ones that who survived. I believe Gillham was trying to build some background as well as illustrate what exactly Anne was missing pre and post hiding in the Annex, but it feels like he is trying to rush to the heart of the novel instead. Despite the pacing, Annelies is a beautiful novel that portrays Anne Frank as a different kind of hero. In her twisted happily ever after, she is fiery and guarded, projecting her story to the world while holding her shame and her grief close to her chest. In the closing lines, the reader leaves this alternate, bittersweet universe behind, aching for the possibility for Anne to have lived beyond the last entry of her diary.

I'm so glad I took a chance on this book. Although I was touched when I read A Diary of a Young Girl and wished Anne's fate had been different, I wasn't sure that alternate history was a good fit for me. As it turned out, this book really moved me. It was a powerful, accurate portrayal of grief, how it can consume and transform, how it can tear apart family and loved ones who grieve differently, but how it can eventually be overcome. The first hundred pages of the book covered key moments in Anne's life before the Annex, while in hiding, and in the camps. The author used these pages effectively, letting us see Anne as the optimistic dreamer she had been, thus showing how utterly affected Anne was by her experience in the camps. This helped me be sympathetic later when she spoke out angrily and hurtfully: I could see that she was letting grief overwhelm her thoughts and feelings. It was also interesting and heartbreaking to see the external hardships the Jews had to deal with as they attempted to return to normal lives. Thank you so much to the First to Read Program for letting me read this before it's publishing date. Once it's released, this is a book I will definitely be purchasing for my own collection.

I wanted to love this one. The story of Anne Frank is a horrifying and heartbreaking story that ended when her life did, all too soon. I’ve read her diary multiple times. In fact; I just finished reading it again a couple weeks ago for a class. I think maybe that’s why I couldn’t connect with this one, because I just spent so much time on what actually happened that trying to replace it with would could have happened, didn’t work for me. It’s possible that I will read this again sometime when it is released, but for now, I couldn’t hang on to the story in the way I wanted to and in the way it deserved. I couldn’t decide if it was honoring her or not, sometimes. Her real story being so fresh in my memory. I wish Anne and her family and so many didn’t have to experience what they did and we hand the chance to say when, not if. But it was not to be. This alternate history will not be for everyone and at this time, it wasn’t for me.

Annelies is a compelling, intense read. I simply couldn't tear myself from it. I was torn for most of the reading, however, in my feelings toward the character of Anne. I felt compassion and empathy for all she endured, but she also annoyed me. Anne spends a great deal of the novel, raging about, as if she was the only one who suffered, and being quite nasty. She does act like the entitled, spoiled, cosseted child her stepmother accuses her of being. The author includes intriguing twists in the story. I applaud him for taking on this incredible task of writing a what if story about Holocaust icon such as Anne Frank. I do wish he author had included a brief bibliography at the end, to share he titles he read and researched.

I am having a hard time finding the words to properly state how I felt about this book. As many of us did, I grew up reading and loving Anne Frank. The premise of this book is that Anne survives the war when Bergen-Belsen is liberated and is reunited with her father Otto. I think it is a really large undertaking to try to write a novel from a person's point of view who is no longer with us and try to comprehend how they would feel based off of their diary. Overall, I think the author did his research very well and the story was well written and he most likely did Anne justice, but how will we ever really know? Often times I felt frustrated with how Anne was portrayed and maybe that is not fair because I don't know her either to say whether it was right or wrong. The novel was moving, heartbreaking and hard to bear at times, but overall very beautiful. I have read a lot of WWII novels, but not many from the perspective of what life was like as survivor afterwards - like how to acclimate to "normal" life after experiencing and seeing so many horrors first hand. It was very haunting, but important to read so that we never forget. Thanks to First to Read for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own.

Every once in awhile, a book comes along that just takes your breath away...a book that you wish you could give more than five stars...a book that speaks to your deepest feelings. For me. Annelies is one of those rare books. It is so beautifully written that I lived the book with the characters, I felt Anne's pain as well as her anger and confusion after the war. I think its because I read The Diary of Anne Frank at a very impressionable age when it was difficult to read that she had died in the camps. Annelies is based on the premise that Anne survived and is reconciled with her father in Amsterdam after the war. All of the pain from the camps leads to great anger and survivor's guilt when she tries to regain her old life. I must admit that I cried a lot of tears while reading this book. Anne's time in the camps was so physically demeaning and her anger and confusion after the war were so mentally harsh. This was a beautiful, well written and well re-searched novel. Suspend your knowledge that you know Anne didn't survive and read this author's story about what her life could have been like -- you'll be glad that you did. Thanks to First to Read for a copy of this book to read and review. All opinions are my own


More to Explore

  • City of Women

Copy the following link