“In Amsterdam, in the summer of 1942, the Nazis forced teenager Anne Frank and her family into hiding. For over two years, they, another family and a German dentist live in a ‘secret annexe’, fearing discovery. All that time, Anne kept a diary. An intimate record of tension and struggle, adolescence and confinement, anger and heartbreak, Anne Frank’s diary is one of those unique documents, famed throughout the world. It portrays innocence and humanity, suffering and survival in the starkest and most moving terms”
The title below does not contain any affiliate links! I do however, recommend you read or listen to The Diary of a Young Girl.
It’s very difficult to review this book. This is the diary of a young girl in the last few years of her life, and she doesn’t even know it.
Anne wrote in her diary between the ages of 13 and 15. In that time her writing developed and she herself evolved greatly. She provided a first hand account on what it was like for some families in hiding during Hitlers rule.
I found this to be very insightful. I am well aware that there are many who didn’t like this for various reasons. They find the writing too childish at times, or her ideals too outlandish. They find the topics frivolous or just plain ‘boring’. Or she’s slammed for being ‘selfish’, because apparently she should feel grateful that she had to go into hiding. To live in fear that one wrong move could mean she and her family are found and taken away.
Here’s what I would say to those people:
- Anne was a young girl when she wrote her diary. If her writing was off in some places, bear that in mind. It’s her diary, her own personal account for her own musings and reflections. Personally, I found that she was rather intelligent for such a young age. Sure, she would go back and forth between talk of potential boyfriends or girlfriends. War or no war she was still a teenager.
- If you found some of the topics frivolous or ‘boring’ as one review noted, again please bear in mind that she did not write her diary with the intent to publish. She said in her diary that perhaps after the war she might write a book titled ‘The Secret Annexe’ and use her diary as a basis, her diary which contains the day-to-day discussions and re-tellings of fear, laughter, frustration, family, love etc.
- I’ve seen some people call her selfish. Apparently she had it easy while others suffered so much more and, according to them, she didn’t have the right to complain as much as she did. Can we remind ourselves that this is a 13 year old girl who found solace in writing her innermost thoughts and feelings which she never intended for others to read? In a place filled with 8 people, was she not allowed a place to clear her thoughts or air her frustrations?
Anne Frank did not write her diary for others entertainment.
I’m not going as far as to say that she was the perfect child, not even by her own accord. I just think that until you’ve lived the life she did and feel the way that she felt in that moment, then perhaps you have no right to judge her for her private thoughts.
Anne spoke a lot about ‘after the war’. Purchases of school clothes, saddening because she never got to wear them. She was very independent, wanted to continue her education (and did so throughout her time in the Annexe), she wanted to write. Either an author or a journalist. At one point she said that she wanted to leave a lasting impression on the world, and be remembered even after her death. I found this left me with awful mixed feelings. After all that’s exactly what happened, but in the most awful of ways.
I often wondered throughout what she might have accomplished, as I say she seemed like a very intelligent person who was always looking to learn and better herself.
Some of my favourite quotes were:
“Laziness may appear attractive, but work gives satisfaction”
“I don’t think of all the misery, but all the beauty that still remains”
“Father says I’m conceited, but I’m not. I’m merely vain!”
“I keep my ideals because, in spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart”
Overall, as I’ve said, I found this a very insightful and thought provoking account of what some lives were like in hiding, from the perspective of a teen. The troubles they faced, the fear they felt and how they managed on a day-to-day level. I also liked that now they’ve now named the people who shielded and cared for them throughout their time there. Anne always wrote about how grateful she was to them. Her appreciation of them really came through, I don’t think she ever took them for granted.
Also, as a side note, I listened to the audio book narrated by Helena Bonham Carter, who did a brilliantly.
So, if you want something to entertain you, action-packed from start to finish, then no this isn’t for you.
If you’re interested in hearing the first-hand experience from the perspective of someone who lived in hiding for three years, then I highly recommend you read it or listen to it.
Of course, you find out what happened to Anne, her family and the others who lived in the Annexe. After the last entry of the journal. Even though you know the facts, hearing what happened after learning about them as individuals, listening to the last three years of their lives.. They were mothers, fathers, sisters and friends.
And they were so close.