The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank is a gripping story recasting the life of Peter van Dann, the Dutch teen who was in hiding with Anne Frank. Feldman asks what would have happened had Peter lived on and escaped the death camps of Nazi Germany. This book has Peter coming to America in the 1950’s and re-inventing himself. He is Peter van Pels, a non-Jew, married to a Jew, father of three children, a man with a number on his arm from the DP camps, and a circumcised penis. Peter cannot escape his past: he is tormented by flashbacks and memories that surface when The Diary of Anne Frank is published, becomes an instant bestseller and is turned into a Broadway play. As Peter begins to tackle his demons, the truth of his inner world surfaces, and he finds that he is in fact the Peter described by Anne Frank, the boy she came to love while they were in hiding together in the attic in Amsterdam. With the floodgates of his memory overflowing, Peter’s own life takes many turns as he re-examines himself and his place in the world as a Jew, a father and a husband. Ultimately, accepting himself as the Peter in Anne’s diary, he must live out his life being true to the reality of Anne, facing his responsibilities to tell the story as it happened for the sake of his father and mother.
Feldman is a master at interweaving fact with fiction, creating a magical story both provocative and full of suspense. Particularly striking is the author’s attention to detail. She makes a story told repeatedly seem fresh and new, as the memories from that time are kept vibrantly alive.