Imagine if the boy in hiding with Anne Frank had survived the war...On 16 February 1944, Peter, Anne Frank's closest confidant in the Secret Annex, declared to her that if he got out alive, he would reinvent himself entirely; no one would ever know who he was, or where he had been. This is the story of what might have happened if the boy in hiding had survived the horror. After the war, Peter van Pels leaves liberated Europe and its ghosts behind him and makes for the United States, the land of self-invention; there, he flourishes in business, marries and raises a family. He lives in the present and plans for the future; for him, the past does not exist. But Peter's carefully constructed life is broken apart when "The Diary of a Young Girl" is published and becomes a sensation all over the world. As Anne Frank's words take on a strange and disturbing life of their own, enmeshed in bitter controversy and recrimination, Peter sees his past being adapted, distorted, argued over and endlessly reinterpreted, until the dissonance between his present and former lives sparks a crisis he cannot suppress. "The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank" is a compelling novel about the power of stories, the meaning of history and the possibility of coming to terms with an unbearable burden of memory.
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Ellen Feldman is the author of Lucy and has written about American history in American Heritage and the New York Times . She lives in New York with her husband.From Publishers Weekly:
Feldman (Lucy) pens a deeply affecting, unsettling look into the soul of a man whose attempts to bury his past cannot prevent it from seeping into his present life. Anne Frank and Peter van Pels shared an awkward first love in the Amsterdam annex where they lived in hiding. In Feldman's novel, Peter has emigrated to America and, as he promised Anne he would do, completely denied his persecution in the Holocaust and his identity as a Jew. The happiness and safety of his new life confounds him: he has a beautiful wife (who is herself Jewish), lovely children and a good job. But when his wife begins reading Anne's newly published diary and later attends the play and the movie, Peter begins to spiral into flashbacks, paranoia and guilt as he questions who he is and where his responsibilities lie. The true story of the controversy over the authenticity of the diary and its stage and screen adaptations is woven into Peter's own struggle with the truth and its consequences, and Feldman convincingly takes readers into the horrors of the Holocaust and the effects on its survivors. The only thing missing is a portrayal of Peter's relationship with Anne herself. A psychologically gripping tale, this will cause readers to think about the price of safety and the complex obligations of memory. Agent, Emma Sweeney. Author tour. (Apr.)
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