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Reviewed by Jon Michael Miller for Readers' Favorite
Tree of Hope: Anne Frank’s Father Shares His Wisdom with an American Teen and the World by Cara Wilson-Granat is a story that will lighten your life and which you will never forget. Ms. Wilson-Granat had a nearly lifelong granddaughter-grandfather, mostly epistolary relationship with Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank. The author first presents a summation of Anne Frank’s story and that of Mr. Frank’s liberation from Auschwitz, his re-marriage, publishing the diary, and later starting a foundation in Anne’s name. Then she presents their communications word-for-word. As a child, young Cara, as many young people did, wrote to Mr. Frank in Switzerland. In her case, he went against his policy of writing back only once (possibly due to her persistence), and thus a lifelong correspondence ensued. Now Ms. Wilson-Granat blesses us with the inspiring transcripts of those wonderful exchanges.
It was difficult for me to read these letters and notes through unclouded eyes. What could be sadder than what happened to the Frank family during the Nazi reign? But Otto Frank emerges from this letter exchange, in my mind, as almost a saint. Ms. Wilson-Granat, now a writer and lecturer, is dedicated to bringing Mr. Frank’s message of hope and forgiveness to the world. Tree of Hope is based upon a line Otto Frank brought to Cara’s awareness, paraphrased: 'even if the death of the world were imminent, I would plant a tree.' And through all young Cara’s teenage angst, and later her despair at America’s ills through the sixties and seventies (musing on her favorite popular songs, films, and fashions), he guided her, planting two trees of hope in Israel in her and her husband’s honor. She now inspires us all to plant trees, symbols of hope for a better future. I believe that Tree of Hope by Cara Wilson-Granat should find its place in bookstores and libraries right next to The Diary of Anne Frank, not only for the perpetuation of Otto Frank’s philosophies but also for Ms. Wilson-Granat’s having preserved and presented them for the transcendent beauty and truth they embody.