Shad­ow Life: A Por­trait of Anne Frank and Her Family

Bar­ry Denenberg
  • Review
By – August 6, 2012
What we have here is not fic­tion, not facts, but fac­tion,” derived from almost every­thing writ­ten about and by Anne Frank. The only source miss­ing is Mar­got Frank, who wrote noth­ing we know of except for one let­ter to an Amer­i­can pen pal. To rec­ti­fy this, the author has become Mar­got, imag­in­ing her in the full­ness of what might be her per­son­al­i­ty. It is as if she, too, kept a diary. In fact, that is what this book is all about — the diary of the old­er sis­ter— Mar­got. If that sounds con­fus­ing, it is for good rea­son, although the book is not with­out some mer­it. The non-fic­tion sec­tion con­sists of the facts that sur­round World War II and the Holo­caust, the Franks’ pas­sage from Ger­many to Hol­land and the ensu­ing trag­ic events. In addi­tion to Margot’s fic­tion­al diary, the author con­cludes with details from oth­er sources about Anne and Margot’s final days. He sup­plies an exten­sive Frank chronol­o­gy; a bib­li­o­graph­i­cal essay that explains all the sources, includ­ing many books, videos and films; plus a bib­li­og­ra­phy and an index. Is the title mis­lead­ing? Yes, and what’s the point? Mar­got did not write a diary. Mar­got did not nec­es­sar­i­ly have the tal­ent that Anne did, but which Denen­berg has giv­en to her. Is that why the author didn’t put Mar­got” in the title? Nev­er­the­less, the book does paint a valid pic­ture of this dis­as­trous­ly try­ing time for Jews and Denen­berg cer­tain­ly can write, even Margot’s diary. For ages 11 – 15.
Mar­cia W. Pos­ner, Ph.D., of the Holo­caust Memo­r­i­al and Tol­er­ance Cen­ter of Nas­sau Coun­ty, is the library and pro­gram direc­tor. An author and play­wright her­self, she loves review­ing for JBW and read­ing all the oth­er reviews and arti­cles in this mar­velous periodical.

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