On a Sunday afternoon, all I wanted was to sit down on the couch and curl up with a good book. Preferably one that is sentimental, with a touch of heartbreak, something I've always loved reading.
This book is those things - sentimental, heartbreaking, and bittersweet. I loved it.
I have always been fond of Holocaust stories. If you browse through my bookshelves, you will probably know that. I don't read them frequently though, but whenever I have the chance, I will encounter a book written about it, and read it from cover to cover, and love it. This is one such book in so many years.
If you ask me, I think I won't remember much of Margot Frank. I do recall her name being mentioned a few times in the Diary of a Young Girl by her sister, but nothing remarkable comes to mind. But here I am, reading her story, and being enchanted by it, by the what-ifs.
In this book, Margot Frank is alive, under the American name of Margie Franklin. As I read her story, I can't help but feel that under all the trauma she's been through, all she needs is a good counseling and the will to start over. I'm no psychologist, but I think she suffers through PTSD, and really needs a psychiatrist to help her. It is hard to watch her unravel, hide behind her sweaters, piece by piece dissolving in nightmares, not eating, not sleeping, not even capable of loving herself and others in the process. It is difficult to see her cling to her last remaining hope, that Peter van Pels, her first love, might still be alive. It is also sad, because she remains in that childlike state of believing what she wants to believe, and be crushed when things don't go the way she's planned or wanted them to be.
I also love stories set in the 50's-80's. I might not know if the way the book portrays how people dress, talk and act is correct, but it brings an old-fashioned feel to it. I can almost imagine the scenes in a movie.
That being said, the book is slow. Though the first few chapters are captivating, the pace is snail-like, interwoven with repetitive dreams, nightmares, sequences. I like to think these serve to strengthen the character's problem and show us how broken she is.
(warning: some minor spoilers about the ending)
Despite its flaws, I think the characters are what color the book beautifully and engage us as readers to want to be with her on her journey. Margie, Joshua, Shelby, Ilsa are all compelling characters, even if they are not always so lovable. I especially love the ending, the letter, and the author's note. It is definitely not the cookie cutter ending (in which I'd hoped she'd get some kind of big discovery), but if Margie's growth and the discovery of her self worth is not a huge revelation, what is?