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Review: MARGOT by JILLIAN CANTOR
Mar 30th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

17347640

Review: MARGOT

by JILLIAN CANTOR

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From Goodreads:

Anne Frank has long been a symbol of bravery and hope, but there were two sisters hidden in the annex, two young Jewish girls, one a cultural icon made famous by her published diary and the other, nearly forgotten.

In the spring of 1959, The Diary of Anne Frank has just come to the silver screen to great acclaim, and a young woman named Margie Franklin is working in Philadelphia as a secretary at a Jewish law firm. On the surface she lives a quiet life, but Margie has a secret: a life she once lived, a past and a religion she has denied, and a family and a country she left behind.

Margie Franklin is really Margot Frank, older sister of Anne, who did not die in Bergen-Belsen as reported, but who instead escaped the Nazis for America. But now, as her sister becomes a global icon, Margie’s carefully constructed American life begins to fall apart. A new relationship threatens to overtake the young love that sustained her during the war, and her past and present begin to collide. Margie is forced to come to terms with Margot, with the people she loved, and with a life swept up into the course of history.

My Review:

What would have happened if Anne Frank’s sister Margot had lived?

Jillian Cantor asked that question and came up with a brilliantly imagined story that seems plausible. Instead of dying in the Holocaust, Margot survives and moves to Philadelphia. There, she takes on a new identity as Margie Franklin, a non-Jewish woman who is from Poland. She ends up working for a Jewish law firm and falling for Joshua, the attorney she works for. He definitely is interested, but not so interested that he would give up his Jewish girlfriend for a non-Jew. (This was difficult or Margot, because she desperately wanted to identify with other Jews, but had suffered so much that it was hard to reveal her secret. (Margie had a number tattooed onto her arm, which she kept hidden underneath clothes. She suffered from a tremendous amount of survivor guilt and was often profoundly lonely.)

The characters in this novel really resonated with me. Cantor showcased antisemitism and discrimination that was prevalent in the US in the 1940s and 50s. Having interviewed Holocaust survivors, Cantor was spot on in her depiction. There is a great cast of Jewish and non-Jewish supporting characters for readers to find likable and interesting.

Bravo to Jillian for being brave and daring to imagine a different ending for Anne Frank’s sister Margot. Obviously, it’s pretend, but in pretending it helps to keep the memory of Anne Frank, Margot Frank, and the others who died in the Holocaust in the forefront of our minds. It also makes you ask the question, what if they had lived? What would they have contributed to this world? Maybe we could all be a little kinder to one another. And wouldn’t it be a miracle if genocide would exist no more!

About Jillian Cantor:1651861

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