September 19, 2013

Review: Margot by Jillian Cantor

Author: Jillian Cantor
Release Date: September 3rd, 2013
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Page Count: 352
Source: Literary Lushes ARC Tour
Rating: A wonderfully fantastic piece of Historical Fiction about what life for Margot Frank might have been like if she'd survived the Holocaust.
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.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]

Margot Frank didn't die in Bergen-Belsen. Instead she escaped. Fast-forward to 14 years. Margot is no longer Margot Frank. She's Margie Franklin and she's a Gentile. For the last 6 years she's been living in Philadelphia, working as a secretary in a law firm, hiding her identity just as she and her family hid over a dozen years early. This book is about her life, her decisions and her struggle to either remain hidden or be true to her Jewish identity.

Let's break this down:

I read The Diary of a Young Girl when I was about Anne's age - 13 and totally unprepared for the awfulness of the world to hit my full force. It's partially because of this that her diary impacted me so much. Another reason for my strong reaction to Anne's story is that I was reading a girl's diary - which is pretty much the number one thing you don't do ever. I mean, privacy aside, I strongly believe in never reading back my own diaries (if I haven't already burnt them). Keeping them was cathartic, but dear God I make myself cringe.

Anyway, caring about Anne was something I was bound to do both back then and now. She was a little girl who died because sometimes humans can be monsters. But Margot? I guess I never really thought about Margot. Yeah, I wish she and her sister and everyone else who died in the Holocaust could have lived, but I never specifically wished Margot had lived the way I dreamed of Anne's post-War "what if?" life. Until I heard the premise of this book, that is.

There's something so unbelievably stunning, simple and quiet about this book. Margot herself isn't loud and restless, like I always pictured Anne to be. Instead, she's soft-spoken and reserved. She's introspective and thoughtful. She's strong and relentless. But what's really stunning about this book is that Margot doesn't think she's any of these things. She just wants to stay hidden.

That's pretty much the conflict of this book - Margot hiding her identity as a Jew after hiding her physical body in an annex for so many years. She lied about being a Jew upon arriving in Philadelphia because she thought it would be safer. Because that was the plan she made with Peter. But the question she's confronted with in this book is if she really can or even wants to stay hidden like that.

What spurs on the conflict (Margot's questioning) in this book is quiet and subtle, just like Margot. Margot herself works for a Jewish law firm and has a crush on her Jewish boss, Joshua. Everything's debatably okay until two things happen at about the same time: she thinks she's found Peter and an elderly Jewish woman who survived the Holocaust comes into her office and asks for help with a law suit. Neither of these events seem like such huge things, but for someone in hiding, for someone who's raised to believe that "religion is breath" and for someone who kind of has PTSD, these events are just that.

So, clearly this is one big sad-fest. I mean, there's this girl who we all kind of read about who actually died but now we're reading about what might have happened to her if she hadn't. And her life is kind of hidden and unfulfilled. But even though you'll probably be close to tears and a little scared for Margot at certain points of this book (or at least, I was), you want to see her go through all of this. You want to see her make it through to the other side so she can fully live her life. And, honestly, to have the opportunity to root for a character like Margot is amazing and totally makes this book so meaningful.

The long and short of it?

Plot: It's exactly what it sounds like it's going to be and it's stunning.
World Building: I don't know anything about Philly in the late 50's, but there's an author's note that explains everything - including the research that went into this book and the made up characters/situations in Margot's story.
Character Development: Margot might as well be alive and real. Like, you really believe it. You really believe she's telling you this story and it's kind of sad when  you get to the end and realize all of this is fiction.
Prose: Just as quiet and reserved as Margot and the story itself. A perfect fit.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Unless you really have something against historical fiction, Holocaust books, war books or all around sad books, you should definitely, definitely, definitely read this book.

I'm just going to sit here quietly thinking about this book while you make the smart decision to go pick it up and read it ASAP. But if you have any questions or comments, let me know down below!


  1. I hadn't realised what this book was about. But now that I know I really want to read it. I loved TDOAF and a book about what might have been for Margot sounds poignant and sad but so interesting. Great review, glad you enjoyed it so much.

  2. I hadn't realised what this book was about. But now that I know I really want to read it. I loved TDOAF and a book about what might have been for Margot sounds poignant and sad but so interesting. Great review, glad you enjoyed it so much.

  3. I really really want to read this!

  4. DUDE. You made me so exciteeeeddd for thissss!!!!!

  5. I've heard really great things about this from Asheley @ Into the Hall of Books and Lauren @ Love Is Not A Triangle, and NOW YOU! Oh gosh, I'm really wanting to read this book now.


Hey there! Thanks so much for stopping by my blog. I would love to hear your thoughts, so please leave a comment. Also, if you have a blog, be sure to leave a link so I can go check it out!