Review: Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl

What can I say about Anne Frank? More than 60 years on since her diary’s posthumous publication, her writing remains honest, grim and heartfelt, providing a warning to humanity that we must never repeat the mistakes of the past. It also shines a light on how beautifully complex a young mind can be.

I picked up my copy of Anne Frank from the bookshop at Anne Frank Huis (Anne Frank House) in Amsterdam. Though I knew a little about Anne, The Diary of a Young Girl was regretfully still on my TBR list.

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My friend Laura had been reading this book late last year on her train trips to work, and every time I saw her with it I would feel a pang of guilt–must read that soon! So glad I finally have, though I wish I’d read it before visiting the house. There’s my tip: read this book as soon as possible. That way, you’re prepared for a spontaneous  and meaningful trip to Amsterdam and the Anne Frank House. Maybe I’ll be lucky enough to return to Holland someday!

In Anne’s diary, daily life in the annexe, humorous sketches, poems and problems are recounted in her uniquely honest style. From the first page, you feel like a friend being welcomed in to Anne’s world. Which makes sense, since it’s a diary, and she writes to a fictitious friend, “Kitty,” aka her diary.

Anne confesses to be “a bundle of contradictions.” I can add to that. She was a feminist. She remained cheerful. She was brave, though not unfalteringly. Anyone would be afraid living in fear of air raids and of being discovered – but her ability to go on living and hold on to hope and faith was brave itself. She was complicated. She was human.

What was so devastating to me when finishing the book is how close they were. The eight members hiding in the secret annexe were captured just months before the end of the war.

While I was in Austria earlier this year, I visited Mauthausen, the concentration camp where Peter van Pels (van Daan in the novel) died three days before its liberation – though I didn’t realise it at the time. When I was there, all I could think about was the enormity of the situation, of the grief, but not much else. It was unfathomable.

Anne’s message was so important, and I think she realised that. She often mused about what people would think when they heard about what she and her family had to endure (though they considered themselves some of the lucky few). In Anne’s own words: “You’ve known for a long time that my greatest wish is to be a journalist, and later on, a famous writer. In any case, after the war I’d like to publish a book called The Secret Annexe.” Like so many others, I am glad she was able to accomplish this dream and that her legacy will live on.

 

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