Yes­ter­day, Jil­lian Can­tor wrote about reli­gion and hav­ing chil­dren. Her most recent book, Mar­got (River­head), is now avail­able. She has been blog­ging here all week for Jew­ish Book Coun­cil and MyJew­ish­Learn­ing.

In my nov­el, Mar­got, I reimag­ine Mar­got Frank, Annes old­er sis­ter, hav­ing sur­vived the war and come to Philadel­phia where she works as a legal sec­re­tary liv­ing under the assumed name of Margie Franklin. My book takes place in 1959, just as Anne’s diary is com­ing to the sil­ver screen, and where Margie Franklin’s present and Mar­got Frank’s past begin to collide. 

As I was writ­ing the nov­el, I had trou­ble find­ing much infor­ma­tion about the real Mar­got Frank. Though Mar­got also kept a diary when the fam­i­ly was hid­ing in the annex, hers was nev­er recov­ered after the war, and very lit­tle is known about her today. I could gath­er only small tid­bits from the descrip­tions of Mar­got in Anne’s diary and from a few oth­er books pub­lished about the family.

But one thing that stood out to me in my research was the rea­son why the fam­i­ly went into hid­ing when they did: Mar­got received a call-up notice from the Ger­mans to report to a forced labor camp. The fam­i­ly moved up their plans, and went into hid­ing the next day, essen­tial­ly to keep Mar­got safe. 

I read that Mar­got Frank left for the annex sep­a­rate­ly from Anne and their par­ents, so as not to arouse sus­pi­cion. She lay­ered on clothes and rode her bike (which Jews were restrict­ed from doing at the time) in the pour­ing rain. She rode to the annex with Miep Gies, as if the two of them were sim­ply Gen­tile sec­re­taries, on their way to work. 

The fic­tion­al events of my nov­el are far removed from this bike ride that the real Mar­got Frank took, but that was the vision I began with of Mar­got – a young woman ter­ri­fied and with­out her fam­i­ly, but com­posed enough to ride her bike through the pour­ing rain to go into hid­ing, to save her­self. A woman who was brave even when she must’ve been deeply afraid. A woman who under­stood how to hide her­self, even when she was out in the open. 

Jil­lian Can­tor is the author of award-win­ning nov­els for teens and adults includ­ing, The Sep­tem­ber Sis­ters, The Life of Glass, and The Trans­for­ma­tion of Things. Her lat­est nov­el for adults is Mar­got (River­head Books). Read more about Jil­lian here.

Jil­lian Can­tor has a BA in Eng­lish from Penn State Uni­ver­si­ty and an MFA from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Ari­zona. She is the author of award-win­ning nov­els for teens and adults, includ­ing, most recent­ly, the crit­i­cal­ly acclaimed The Lost Let­ter, The Hours Count, and Mar­got. Born and raised in a sub­urb of Philadel­phia, Can­tor cur­rent­ly lives in Ari­zona with her hus­band and two sons.