Review: Margot by Jillian Cantor

20131101-184210.jpgYou’d be hard-pressed to find an adult who hasn’t heard of Anne Frank. For many of us, her diary was likely required reading in high school. And some may even remember that Anne had an older sister, Margot. But how many people have considered what Margot’s perspective on their situation might have been? I’m guessing not more than a handful if any. I sure didn’t before reading this book.

This imaginative, and at the same time, historical novel by Jillian Cantor asks the reader to do just that. And, stretching your imagination even further, believe for the duration of the book that Margot was actually able to escape from Auschwitz and eventually make her way to America. The story opens with Margot, now known as Margie, living in Philadelphia several years after the war has ended. She has completely erased her identity and past as she tries to assimilate into a Gentile, American lifestyle. Fear is an overriding theme of Margie’s day to day life: fear of her Jewish heritage being uncovered, fear of being the target of an anti-Semitic attack, fear of having to face her conscience and the guilt she suffers daily at having survived while her sister did not.

To complicate matters further, the big screen version of her sister’s diary is now the talk of the town. Nobody close to Margie suspects the double life she is leading. Not her closest friend Shelby, and certainly not her boss, Joshua, who Margie develops feelings for in spite of her carefully constructed outer shell of a life. Margie is also haunted by memories of her teenage love, Peter, and the dilemma of whether he, too, may have survived and escaped to America.

Having never read anything by Jillian Cantor, I was immediately intrigued by the premise of this story. I’m always interested in a good historical fiction novel, especially one that deals with this era in history. As I read this book, I had to keep reminding myself that this was not a factual account of the Frank family’s experiences. The author does that great of a job pulling us into the story. The characters are well-developed, especially Margie who evoked such feelings of sympathy from me. My heart broke for this lonely young woman living such a solitary life with no family to comfort her other than her cat.

Margot will definitely go on my list of favorite historical fiction books. It offers a fresh take on an unfortunate time in our history. Five stars for me!

~ Thalia

Buy it Now: Margot: A Novel